Abstract words such as Fr. livraison ‘delivery’, It. fedeltà ‘faithfulness’, Sp. semejanza ‘resemblance’, belong to the word class of nouns. They do not possess materiality and therefore lack sensory perceivability. Within the spectrum of nouns, abstract nouns are located on the opposite side of proper names; between them, there are common nouns, collective nouns, and mass nouns. Abstract nouns are in part non-count and not able to be pluralized. In terms of meaning, there is typically a threefold division in groups: (a) Action/result nouns (e.g., Fr. lavage ‘washing’, It. giuramento ‘oath’, Sp. mordedura ‘bite’); (b) Quality nouns (e.g., Fr. dignité ‘dignity’, It. biancore ‘whiteness’, Sp. modestia ‘modesty’); and (c) Status nouns (e.g., Fr. episcopat ‘episcopate’, It. cuginanza ‘cousinhood’, Sp. almirantazgo ‘admiralship’). From a purely morphological standpoint, a classification of abstract nouns according to derivation basis appears suitable: (a) (primary) denominal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. duché ‘dukedom’, It. linguaggio ‘language’, Sp. añada ‘vintage’); (b) (primary) deadjectival abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. folie ‘madness’, It. bellezza ‘beauty’, Sp. cortesía ‘courtesy’); and (c) (primary) deverbal abstract nouns (e.g., Fr. mouvement ‘movement’, It. scrittura ‘writing’, Sp. venganza ‘revenge’). Other abstract nouns arise from conversion, for example, Fr. le devoir ‘duty’, It. il freddo ‘coldness’, Sp. el cambio ‘change’. In light of this, the question of how far the formation of abstract nouns in Romance languages follows Latin patterns (derivation with suffixes) or whether new processes emerge is of particular interest. In addition, the individual Romance languages display different preferences in choosing abstract-forming morphological processes. On the one hand, there is a large number of Latin abstract-forming suffixes whose outcomes preserve the same function in the Romance languages, such as -ía (astrología ‘astrology’), -ura (scriptura ‘writing’), -ĭtia (pigrĭtia ‘sloth’), -io (oratio ‘speaking’). Furthermore, there is a group of Latin suffixes that gave rise to suffixes deriving abstract nouns only in Romance. Among these are, for example, -aticu (Fr. péage ‘road toll’, Sp. hallazgo ‘discovery’), -aceu (Sp. cuchillazo ‘knife thrust’), -aria (Sp. borrachera ‘drunkenness’, It. vecchiaia ‘old age’). On the other hand, suffixless processes of abstract noun formation are coming to full fruition only in Romance: The conversion of past participles (e.g., Fr. vue ‘sight’, It. dormita ‘sleep’, Sp. llegada ‘arrival’) is of special importance. The conversion of infinitives to nouns with abstract meaning is least common in Modern French (e.g., penser ‘thought’) and most common in Romanian (iertare ‘pardon’, durere ‘pain’, etc.). Deverbal noun formation without suffixes (Fr. amende ‘fine’, It. carica ‘charge’, Sp. socorro ‘help’, etc.), in contrast, is known to have developed a broad pan-Romance geographic spread.
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Clauses can fulfill various functions in discourse; in most cases, the form of the clause is indicative of its discourse function. The discourse functions (such as making statements or asking questions) are referred to as speech acts, while the grammatical counterparts are referred to as clause types (such as declarative or interrogative). Declarative clauses are canonical (that is, they are syntactically more basic than non-canonical ones): they are by default used to express statements, and they represent the most unmarked word order configuration(s) in a language. Other clause types, such as interrogatives, can be distinguished by various means, including changes in the intonation pattern, different (non-canonical) word orders, the use of morphosyntactic markers (such as interrogative words), as well as combinations of these, as can be observed across Germanic. The explicit marking of clause types is referred to as clause typing, and it affects both the syntactic component of the grammar and its interfaces. Apart from main clauses, which can correspond to complete utterances, there are also embedded clauses, which are contained within another clause, referred to as the matrix clause: matrix clauses can be either main clauses or embedded clauses. Embedded clauses may be argument clauses, in which case they are selected by a matrix element (such as a verb), but they can also be adjunct clauses, which modify some element in the matrix clause (or the entire matrix clause). Embedded clauses fall into various clause types. Some of these can also be main clauses, such as declarative clauses or interrogative clauses. Other embedded clause types do not occur as main clauses, as is the case for relative clauses or comparative clauses. Clause typing in embedded clauses has two major aspects: embedded clauses are distinguished from matrix clauses and from other embedded clause types. Main clauses can be typed in various—syntactic and non-syntactic—ways, but Germanic languages type embedded clauses by morphosyntactic means intonation plays little, if any, role. These morphosyntactic markers fall into various categories according to what roles they fulfill in the clause. Germanic languages show considerable variation in morphosyntactic markers, depending on the clause type and the variety, and in many cases, such markers can also co-occur, resulting in complex left peripheries.
In Germanic languages, conversion is seen as a change in category (i.e., syntactic category, word class, part of speech) without (overt) affixation. Conversion is attested in all Germanic languages. The definition of conversion as transposition or as derivation with a so-called zero-affix, which is responsible for the word-class change, depends on the language-specific part-of-speech system as well as, as often argued, the direction of conversion. Different types of conversion (e.g., from adjective to noun) are attested in Germanic languages, which differ especially semantically from each other. Although minor conversion types are attested, the main conversion types in Germanic languages are verb-to-noun conversion (deverbal nouns), adjective-to-noun conversion (deadjectival nouns), and noun-to-verb conversion (denominal verbs). Due to the characteristics of word-class change, conversion displays many parallels to derivational processes such as the directionality of category change and the preservation of lexical and grammatical properties of the underlying stem such as argument structure. Some, however, have argued that conversion does not exist as a specific rule and is only a symptom of lexical relisting. Another question is whether two such words are related by a conversion process that is still productive or are lexically listed relics of a now unproductive process. Furthermore, the direction of conversion of present-day Germanic, for example, the identification of the word class of the input before being converted, is unclear sometimes. Generally, deverbal and deadjectival nominal conversion in Germanic languages is semantically more transparent than denominal and deadjectival verbal conversion: despite the occurrence of some highly frequent, but lexicalized counterexamples, the semantic impact of conversion is only sometimes predictable, slightly more in the nominal domain than in the verbal domain. The semantics of verb formation by conversion (e.g., whether conversion leads to causative readings or not) is hardly predictable. Overall, conversion in Germanic is considered a process with multiple linkages to other morphological phenomena such as derivation, back-formation, and inflectional categories such as grammatical gender. Due to the lack of formal markers, conversion is considered non-iconic. The different kinds of conversions are merely based on language-specific mechanisms, but what all Germanic languages share at least is the ability to form nominal conversion, which is independent of their typological characteristics as isolating-analytic versus inflectional-fusional languages. This is surprising given the crosslinguistic prevalence of verbal conversion in the languages of the world.
Dorien Van De Mieroop
Rather than thinking of identity as something that defines a person in such a way that it makes them distinguishable from others, researchers using discourse analytical approaches within linguistics—especially in the fields of pragmatics and interactional sociolinguistics—tend to adopt a social constructionist perspective and thus view identity as a multimodally constituted activity or process. From this perspective, identity is not something one is or has, but something that one does or creates by means of various linguistic and paralinguistic resources as well as bodily movements. This performative view of identity has a number of implications. Rather than thinking of identity in the singular, a plural conceptualization of identities is capitalized on. Moreover, these identities should not be regarded as pertaining to only the ‘large’ macro-level sociodemographic categories individuals belong to, such as gender, race, and social class; identities are often described in much more nuanced terms. Such a fine-grained approach is needed to do justice to this performative perspective on identity, as it helps to capture the many dynamic and extremely fleeting ways in which people engage in identity work. Furthermore, all these identity constructions are not necessarily always consistent with one another, and they may sometimes even be contradictory, as people may not always be—or be able to be—equally prone to enacting a particular identity. This may depend on what they are doing and with whom, as identities are also related to the identities other people may construct around them. All these aspects make the analysis of identity quite a complex endeavor, as not only can their plural and fleeting nature make identities quite hard to capture, but it can also be quite a challenge to pin down precisely at which points in an interaction we can actually observe identity work in action.
Frisian is a West Germanic language that is indigenous to the southern coastal region of the North Sea in the Netherlands and Germany. In the early 21st century, it was spoken by around 400,000 inhabitants of the Dutch province of Friesland, by up to 1,000 speakers in the German municipality of the Saterland, and by an estimated 4,000 people in the German district of Nordfriesland. Corresponding to the geographical separation of these areas, which is the result of a complex historical process involving several migration events and language shifts, the Frisian language is traditionally divided into three dialect groups: West Frisian, East Frisian (Saterlandic), and North Frisian. They share common Frisian features, like the presence of two classes of weak verbs. Nevertheless, they are also characterized by individual innovations and various degrees of influence from different contact languages, which explains why they are no longer mutually intelligible. All three dialects are fully recognized as minority languages but differ in terms of their sociopolitical status. While West Frisian appears to occupy a moderately strong position in society—as it is not only recognized as the second official language of the Netherlands but also has access to higher domains and enjoys a considerable amount of constitutional support—the same does not apply to the other dialects. North Frisian and Saterlandic are mostly, if not entirely, confined to lower domains and attempts to extend their use have been only moderately successful. Considering the number of speakers, West Frisian is a relatively vital language as opposed to North Frisian and Saterlandic, which are both severely endangered.
Huei-ling Lai and Yao-Ying Lai
Sentential meaning that emerges compositionally is not always transparent as one-to-one mapping from syntactic structure to semantic representation; oftentimes, the meaning is underspecified (morphosyntactically unsupported), not explicitly conveyed via overt linguistic devices. Compositional meaning is obtained during comprehension. The associated issues are explored by examining linguistic factors that modulate the construal of underspecified iterative meaning in Mandarin Chinese (MC). In this case, the factors include lexical aspect of verbs, the interval-lengths denoted by post-verbal durative adverbials, and boundary specificity denoted by preverbal versus post-verbal temporal adverbials. The composition of a punctual verb (e.g., jump, poke) with a durative temporal adverbial like Zhangsan tiao-le shi fenzhong. Zhangsan jump-LE ten minute ‘Zhangsan jumped for ten minutes’ engenders an iterative meaning, which is morphosyntactically absent yet fully understood by comprehenders. Contrastively, the counterpart involving a durative verb (e.g., run, swim) like Zhangsan pao-le shi fenzhong Zhangsan run-LE ten minute ‘Zhangsan ran for ten minutes’ engenders a continuous reading with identical syntactic structure. Psycholinguistically, processing such underspecified meaning in real time has been shown to require greater effort than the transparent counterpart. This phenomenon has been attested cross-linguistically; yet how it is manifested in MC, a tenseless language, remains understudied. In addition, durative temporal adverbials like yizhi/buduandi ‘continuously,’ which appear preverbally in MC, also engender an iterative meaning when composed with a punctual verb like Zhangsan yizhi/buduandi tiao. Zhangsan continuously jump ‘Zhangsan jumped continuously.’ Crucially, unlike the post-verbal adverbials that encode specific boundaries for the denoted intervals, these preverbal adverbials refer to continuous time spans without specific endpoints. The difference in boundary specificity between the two adverbial types, while both being durative, is hypothesized to modulate the processing profiles of aspectual comprehension. Results of the online (timed) questionnaire showed (a) an effect of boundary specificity: sentences with post-verbal adverbials that encode [+specific boundary] were rated lower in the naturalness-rating task and induced longer response time (RT) in iterativity judgements, as compared to preverbal adverbials that encode [−specific boundary]; (b) in composition with post-verbal adverbials that are [+specific boundary], sentences involving durative verbs elicited lower rating scores and longer RT of iterativity judgements than the counterpart involving punctual verbs. These suggest that the comprehension of underspecified iterative meaning is modulated by both cross-linguistically similar parameters and language-specific systems of temporal reference, by which MC exhibits a typological difference in processing profiles. Overall, the patterns are consistent with the Context-Dependence approach to semantic underspecification: comprehenders compute the ultimate reading (iterative versus continuous) by taking both the sentential and extra-sentential information into consideration in a given context.
Pop cultural linguistics represents an emerging research subfield. It can be conceptualized as a specific type of media linguistics concerned with the study of performed language as represented in various pop culture manifestations, such as music, TV series, movies, comics, cartoons, and video games, among others. Pop culture is thus viewed as a broad category that includes artifacts with a commercial, entertainment-related purpose that are (mass-)mediated, fall within the mainstream, and represent largely fictional and scripted content. Linguists working in pop cultural linguistics explicitly take account of the current social and practical relevance of pop culture and the fact that it is largely a multimodal phenomenon with a strong linguistic component and the potential for affective engagement. Pop cultural linguistics possesses inherent relevance for the broader area of cultural studies, which may benefit from quantitative and qualitative approaches used in linguistics to increase the overall validity of findings and to develop a comprehensive picture of pop culture artifacts. The main object of study in pop cultural linguistics is performed language. While performed language was traditionally sidelined in linguistics due to its alleged “inauthentic” nature, it has gradually been acknowledged as a regular part of everyday language use and thus has been normalized in linguistic study. The increasing availability of resources relevant for pop cultural linguistics, such as language corpora and thematic bibliographies, illustrates the vitality of the field, as does the growing body of research. Research in pop cultural linguistics is methodologically eclectic and commonly adapts approaches and frameworks used in established linguistic subfields, such as sociolinguistics, stylistics, or corpus linguistics. It serves to explore salient topics, such as the linguistic construction of authenticity and identity from a sociolinguistic angle or the representation of politeness from a pragma-stylistic point of view, occasionally also applying a contrastive perspective in terms of performed language vs. natural conversation. Pop cultural linguistics is further characterized by increasing methodological reflection and a growing recognition of the affordances of multimodal analysis, even though these aspects will have to be addressed more explicitly in the future.
Sociophonetics research is located at the interface of sociolinguistics and experimental phonetics. Its primary focus is to shed new light on the social-indexical phonetic properties of speech, revealing a wide range of phonetic parameters that map systematically to social factors relevant to speakers and listeners, and the fact that many of these involve particularly fine-grained control of both spatial and temporal dimensions of speech production. Recent methodological developments in acoustic and articulatory methods have yielded new insights into the nature of sociophonetic variation at the scale of entire speech communities as well as in respect of the detailed speech production patterns of individual speakers. The key theoretical dimension of sociophonetic research is to consider how models of speech production, processing, and acquisition should be informed by rapidly increasing knowledge of the ubiquity of social-indexical phonetic variation carried by the speech signal. In particular, this work is focused on inferring from the performance of speakers and listeners how social-indexical phonetic properties are interwoven into phonological representation alongside those properties associated with the transmission and interpretation of lexical-propositional information.
Functional categories carry little or no semantic content by themselves and contribute crucially to sentence structure. In the generative framework, they are assumed to mark and head functional projections in the basic hierarchical structure underlying each phrase or sentence. Given their intertwining with grammar, child language researchers have long been attracted by the development of functional categories. To a child, it is important to differentiate functional categories from lexical categories and relate each of them to the hidden hierarchical structure of the phrase or sentence. The learning of a functional category is no easy task and implies the development of different dimensions of linguistic knowledge, including the lexical realization of the functional category in the ambient language, the specific grammatical function it serves, the abstract underlying structure, and the semantic properties of the associated structure. A central issue in the acquisition of functional categories concerns whether children have access to functional categories early in language development. Differing accounts have been proposed. According to the maturational view, functional categories are absent in children’s initial grammar and mature later. In contrast to the maturational view is the continuity view, which assumes children’s continuous access to functional categories throughout language development. Cross-linguistic evidence from production and experimental studies has been accumulated in support of the continuity hypothesis. Mandarin Chinese has a rich inventory of function words, though it lacks overt inflectional markers. De, aspect markers, ba, and sentence final particles are among the most commonly used function words and play a fundamental role in sentence structure in Mandarin Chinese in that they are functional categories that head various functional projections in the hierarchical structure. Acquisition studies show that these function words emerge early in development and children’s use of these function words is mostly target-like, offering evidence for the continuity view of functional categories as well as insights into child grammar in Mandarin Chinese.
Anne Weber, Bettina Fetzer, and Vahram Atayan
Discussing the language of science and technology in the Romance languages is highly complex and challenging for several reasons. On the one hand, there are different fields to be included, namely computer sciences, engineering, mathematics, as well as physics and astronomy. On the other hand, English has become (or even has always been in the case of computer sciences) the lingua franca in all these fields, so there seems to be rather little to analyze from a synchronic perspective as far as the Romance languages are concerned, and accordingly there is rather little up-to-date linguistic research on it. In the beginning, that is, during the late 1980s, the focus was on specific phenomena, while modern research often deals with didactic aspects and language teaching. When it comes to the state of research in the different Romance languages, it turns out that it is mainly Canadians who are noted for playing a major role in the analysis of French technolectes. Numerous studies, some of which were conducted by German Romanists, center on the lexis and terminology of specific fields in French. As for Portuguese, most works have been published in Brazil, and lately the focal point seems to have primarily been placed on computer science and mathematics. Studies regarding Italian typically reveal a major interest in the general structure of terminology and its relation to everyday language use. Moreover, special emphasis is often placed on historical matters, especially the role of Galileo. Finally, the influence of specific text types as well as didactic aspects of special languages at different levels of education is also a subject of interest. With regard to Spanish, it should first be pointed out that, due to diatopic variation, it is hardly possible to talk about one single concept of the language of science and technology. Only a few comprehensive works on this area of research exist, yet many individual studies have been published in the last few decades, primarily on information science, especially the influence of English on Spanish, as well as on terminology in different fields. In Catalan, specialized languages emerged rather early, and their development has been systematically encouraged since the 20th century; the center of interest in current research is mainly on information science.