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Convenors: Rik van Gijn, Stefan Dedio, Francesco Gardani, Florian Matter, Peter Ranacher, Florian Sommer, Manuel Widmer
Zurich, 26-27 January 2017, KOL-E-18
Grammar and lexicon (in the sense of ‘vocabulary’) have both been central to understanding language change. However, their diachronic behavior is often contrasted in at least two respects:
Morphology, with its close ties to both the lexicon and syntax, can play a key role in arriving at a better understanding of this seemingly contrastive diachronic behavior of lexicon and grammar. Morphology itself seems to display ambiguous diachronic behavior. On the one hand, the distribution of broad morphological types over the globe suggests areal, contact-related diffusion. On the other hand, patterns of flexivity and syncretism often show strong lineage-specific signals.
In order to better understand the dynamics of morphological patterns in time and space, we need (1) to develop more fine-grained approaches to morphological categories and types, in which broad types are broken down into lower-level variables, whose phylogenetic and areal behavior can then be studied individually; and (2) to adopt methods of analysis that are sensitive to genealogical and geographical diversity. Combining the latest insights in morphological theory and comparative-historical linguistics is crucial for adequately addressing one of the key challenges in comparative morphology: distinguishing contact-induced vs universally favored vs random spread of specific morphological patterns within families, or cross-family stability vs. areal spread.
With this workshop we want to achieve a rapprochement between comparative-historical morphology and morphological theory, addressing the question of how morphological theory can contribute to comparative-diachronic approaches to morphology and vice versa. We are especially interested in the following topics (but potential contributors should not feel restricted by them):
Marianne Mithun (UC Santa Barbara)
Andrew Spencer (University of Essex)
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