51-60 of 456 Results

Article

Gemma Rigau and Manuel Pérez Saldanya

Catalan is a Romance language closely related to Gallo-Romance languages. However, contact with Spanish since the 15th century has led it to adopt various linguistic features that are closer to those seen in Ibero-Romance languages. Catalan exhibits five broad dialects: Central, Northern, and Balearic, which pertain to the Eastern dialect block, and Northwestern and Valencian, which make up the Western. This article deals with the most salient morphosyntactic properties of Catalan and covers diachronic and diatopic variations. It also offers information about diastratic or sociolinguistic variations, namely standard and non-standard variations. Among the most characteristic morphosyntactic features are the following: 1. Catalan is the only Romance language that exhibits a periphrastic past tense expressed by means of the verb anar ‘go’ + infinitive (Ahir vas cantar ‘Yesterday you sang’). This periphrastic past coexists with a simple past (Ahir cantares ‘Yesterday you sang’). However, Catalan does not have a periphrastic future built with the movement verb go. 2. Demonstratives show a two-term system in most Catalan dialects: aquí ‘here’ (proximal) and allà or allí ‘there’ (distal); but in Valencian and some Northwestern dialects, there is a three-term system. In contrast with other languages that have a two-term system, Catalan uses the proximal demonstrative to express proximity either to the speaker or to the addressee (Aquí on jo soc ‘Here where I am’, Aquí on tu ets ‘There where you are’). 3. Catalan has a complex system of clitic pronouns (or weak object pronouns) which may vary in form according to the point of contact with the verb, proclitically or enclitically; e.g., the singular masculine accusative clitic can have two syllabic forms (el and lo) and an asyllabic one (l’ or ‘l): El saludo ‘I am greeting him’, Puc saludar-lo ‘I can greet him’, L’havies saludat ‘You had greeted him’, Saluda’l ‘Greet him’. 4. Existential constructions may contain the predicate haver-hi ‘there be’, consisting of the locative clitic hi and the verb haver ‘have’ (Hi ha tres estudiants ‘There are three students’) and the copulative verb ser ‘be’ (Tres estudiants ja són aquí ‘Three students are already here’) or other verbs whose behavior can be close to an unaccusative verb when preceded by the clitic hi (Aquí hi treballen forners ‘There are some bakers working here’). 5. The negative polarity adverb no ‘not’ may be reinforced by the adverbs pas or cap in some dialects and can co-occur with negative polarity items (ningú ‘anybody/nobody’, res ‘anything/nothing’, mai ‘never’, etc.). Negative polarity items exhibit negative agreement (No hi ha mai ningú ‘Nobody is ever here’), but they may express positive meaning in some non-declarative syntactic contexts (Si mai vens, truca’m ‘If you ever come, call me’). 6. Other distinguishing items are the interrogative and confirmative particles, the pronominal forms of address, and the personal articles.

Article

Over the past decades, psycholinguistic aspects of word processing have made a considerable impact on views of language theory and language architecture. In the quest for the principles governing the ways human speakers perceive, store, access, and produce words, inflection issues have provided a challenging realm of scientific inquiry, and a battlefield for radically opposing views. It is somewhat ironic that some of the most influential cognitive models of inflection have long been based on evidence from an inflectionally impoverished language like English, where the notions of inflectional regularity, (de)composability, predictability, phonological complexity, and default productivity appear to be mutually implied. An analysis of more “complex” inflection systems such as those of Romance languages shows that this mutual implication is not a universal property of inflection, but a contingency of poorly contrastive, nearly isolating inflection systems. Far from presenting minor faults in a solid, theoretical edifice, Romance evidence appears to call into question the subdivision of labor between rules and exceptions, the on-line processing vs. long-term memory dichotomy, and the distinction between morphological processes and lexical representations. A dynamic, learning-based view of inflection is more compatible with this data, whereby morphological structure is an emergent property of the ways inflected forms are processed and stored, grounded in universal principles of lexical self-organization and their neuro-functional correlates.

Article

Romance–Slavic language contact in Central and Eastern Europe occurs in both directions of contact-induced change with Romance varieties as donor and as recipient languages. Latin influence on learned and cultural vocabulary, including derivation, occurred during the Middle Ages and early Modern Age, partly mediated by German. Italian and French played an important role as source languages for lexical borrowings in Czech, Sorbian, Polish, and Russian, although often restricted to special semantic fields such as cooking and music in the case of Italian. Romance loans in Slavic include internationalisms, whose exact provenience is difficult to determine, often with the possibility of multiple borrowing. As for Russian (and Polish), French contributed to a considerable extent to the development of the standard language at all levels, due to a high degree of bilingualism, characterizing the Russian aristocracy of the 18th and 19th centuries, even with French as their first language. In contrast, Russian, less so Polish, influenced Romance languages by means of a relatively small number of lexical items referring to the Slavic world and its cultural peculiarities and—after World War I—to the Soviet reality. Romance lexical items have, in general, been integrated into the existent grammatical systems of the recipient languages. The integration of foreign loans in Slavic was mainly based on formal principles such as final vowels and consonants of the nouns fitting to the traditional genders and declensions, with the gender of the source word itself playing only a secondary role. The Latin neuter gender was either replaced or it led to innovative paradigms. In contrast, the Slavic neuter served to integrate masculine nouns with incompatible endings. In the case of borrowed verbs, special integration suffixes developed. A special case is Romanian (including Moldovan), due to its direct contact with Slavic, spoken by people of its direct neighborhood, in part even forming linguistic enclaves. Contact with Ukrainian has been strongest since the Middle Ages in the northeastern parts of the Romanian language area. In general, influences are found in both directions: Romanian was an important source for shepherd and farming terminology, which is true also for Polish, Slovak, and even Moravian Czech as recipient languages. In contrast, Ukrainian as a donor language contributed to Romanian everyday vocabulary, especially in (Russian and independent) Moldova and the adjacent part of Ukraine. North-Slavic enclaves with strong Romanian influence also beyond the lexicon are of Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, and Czech origin. In grammar, Romanian influence has become visible here, for example, in the development of an analytical system of comparison, including a borrowed comparator. In contrast to the ancient Romanian–Bulgarian symbiosis in the southeast, the substrate type of language contact has played only a marginal role in Central and Eastern Europe, restricted, by and large, to the French-speaking aristocracy in Russia and to some Romanian–Ukrainian contact areas. So, the adstrate type has clearly prevailed, partially in the form of the special subtype of a (cultural) superstrate.

Article

Cognitive semantics (CS) is an approach to the study of linguistic meaning. It is based on the assumption that the human linguistic capacity is part of our cognitive abilities, and that language in general and meaning in particular can therefore be better understood by taking into account the cognitive mechanisms that control the conceptual and perceptual processing of extra-linguistic reality. Issues central to CS are (a) the notion of prototype and its role in the description of language, (b) the nature of linguistic meaning, and (c) the functioning of different types of semantic relations. The question concerning the nature of meaning is an issue that is particularly controversial between CS on the one hand and structuralist and generative approaches on the other hand: is linguistic meaning conceptual, that is, part of our encyclopedic knowledge (as is claimed by CS), or is it autonomous, that is, based on abstract and language-specific features? According to CS, the most important types of semantic relations are metaphor, metonymy, and different kinds of taxonomic relations, which, in turn, can be further broken down into more basic associative relations such as similarity, contiguity, and contrast. These play a central role not only in polysemy and word formation, that is, in the lexicon, but also in the grammar.

Article

André Thibault

The first French colonial era goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries. It encompasses North American territories, the Antilles, and the Indian Ocean. The second colonial era started in the 19th century and ended in the 1960s. It first reached the Maghreb and Lebanon, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, where two colonial powers, France and Belgium, exported the use of French. The last territories affected by the expansion of the French language are to be found in the Pacific.

Article

Yu-Ying Chuang and R. Harald Baayen

Naive discriminative learning (NDL) and linear discriminative learning (LDL) are simple computational algorithms for lexical learning and lexical processing. Both NDL and LDL assume that learning is discriminative, driven by prediction error, and that it is this error that calibrates the association strength between input and output representations. Both words’ forms and their meanings are represented by numeric vectors, and mappings between forms and meanings are set up. For comprehension, form vectors predict meaning vectors. For production, meaning vectors map onto form vectors. These mappings can be learned incrementally, approximating how children learn the words of their language. Alternatively, optimal mappings representing the end state of learning can be estimated. The NDL and LDL algorithms are incorporated in a computational theory of the mental lexicon, the ‘discriminative lexicon’. The model shows good performance both with respect to production and comprehension accuracy, and for predicting aspects of lexical processing, including morphological processing, across a wide range of experiments. Since, mathematically, NDL and LDL implement multivariate multiple regression, the ‘discriminative lexicon’ provides a cognitively motivated statistical modeling approach to lexical processing.

Article

It is often said that languages for specific purposes (also named special languages or technolects) are the product of a division of labor. Although this concept was introduced only as late as 1776 (by Adam Smith, in An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations), the idea that professions or occupations of all kind are characterized by a particular vocabulary that is not understood by all native speakers was already manifest in the writings of medieval scholars (for instance, in Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia). In the Middle Ages most Romance languages conquered a more or less wide range of domains. The question arose whether they were also appropriate to serve as a medium of scholarship. The disciplines taught at the universities (arts, theology, law, medicine) had a strong Latin tradition; their knowledge was popularized by means of translations, which enriched the vocabulary and the syntactic flexibility of the emerging languages. Thus, the translators—sometimes organized in “schools”—contributed to the elaboration of the target languages and to their emancipation from Latin. Aside from the septem artes liberales, however, a second group of (seven) disciplines without Latin roots (called artes mechanicae) established and introduced mainly native vocabulary typical of the respective occupational fields. During the first centuries of modern times, more and more scholars felt that their mother tongue should take the place of Latin as a means of propagating scholarship and new findings. In the 17th and 18th centuries, French held the lead among the modern languages in nearly all fields of knowledge; it maintained its dominant position among the Romance languages until the second half of the 20th century. On a global level, German was a strong rival in the humanities and several scientific disciplines in the 19th century; for many decades, however, English has been the universal medium of communication in the scientific community. This process has given rise to many discussions about language planning measures to be taken in order to curtail the Anglo-American supremacy. Before the 18th century, special languages did not have a strong impact on the physiognomy of developed languages. In the sphere of academic disciplines, translations of canonical Latin texts entailed a general re-Latinization and, as a consequence, a process of convergence of the Romance languages. The technical languages of trade and artisanry were highly fragmented so that their special vocabulary was used and understood only in limited geographical areas. In the Age of Enlightenment, the growing prestige of experts, on the one hand, and philosophical considerations about the optimization of language(s), on the other hand, led to increasing harmonization efforts on national and supranational levels. Organizations were founded with the purpose of creating and standardizing terminologies for various kinds of subjects (technical products, medicine, etc.). Special languages, far from being homogeneous varieties, are differentiated vertically. Linguists use to distinguish between three levels of communication: specialists inter se (e.g., physician—physician), specialist—skilled worker (physician—nurse), and specialist—layman (physician—patient). Studying how technical terms seep into common language and what changes they undergo during this process is a great challenge for linguists.

Article

The Spanish language, as it spread throughout Latin America from the earliest colonial times until the present, has evolved a number of syntactic and morphological configurations that depart from the Iberian Peninsula inheritance. One of the tasks of Spanish variational studies is to search for the routes of evolution as well as for known or possible causal factors. In some instances, archaic elements no longer in use in Spain have been retained entirely or with modification in Latin America. One example is the use of the subject pronoun vos in many Latin American Spanish varieties. In Spain vos was once used to express the second-person plural (‘you-pl’) and was later replaced by the compound form vosotros, while in Latin America vos is always used in the singular (with several different verbal paradigms), in effect replacing or coexisting with tú. Other Latin American Spanish constructions reflect regional origins of Spanish settlers, for example, Caribbean questions of the type ¿Qué tú quieres? ‘What do you (sg)want?’ or subject + infinitive constructions such as antes de yo llegar ‘before I arrived’, which show traces of Galician and Canary Island heritage. In a similar fashion, diminutive suffixes based on -ico, found in much of the Caribbean, reflect dialects of Aragon and Murcia in Spain, but in Latin America this suffix is attached only to nouns whose final consonant is -t-. Contact with indigenous, creole, or immigrant languages provides another source of variation, for example, in the Andean region of South America, where bilingual Quechua–Spanish speakers often gravitate toward Object–Verb word order, or double negation in the Dominican Republic, which bears the imprint of Haitian creole. Other probably contact-influenced features found in Latin American Spanish include doubled and non-agreeing direct object clitics, null direct objects, use of gerunds instead of conjugated verbs, double possessives, partial or truncated noun-phrase pluralization, and diminutives in -ingo. Finally, some Latin American Spanish morphological and syntactic patterns appear to result from spontaneous innovation, for example, use of present subjunctive verbs in subordinate clauses combined with present-tense verbs in main clauses, use of ser as intensifier, and variation between lo and le for direct-object clitics. At the microdialectal level, even more variation can be found, as demographic shifts, recent immigration, and isolation come into play.

Article

Nowadays, computer models of human language are instrumental to millions of people, who use them every day with little if any awareness of their existence and role. Their exponential development has had a huge impact on daily life through practical applications like machine translation or automated dialogue systems. It has also deeply affected the way we think about language as an object of scientific inquiry. Computer modeling of Romance languages has helped scholars develop new theoretical frameworks and new ways of looking at traditional approaches. In particular, computer modeling of lexical phenomena has had a profound influence on some fundamental issues in human language processing, such as the purported dichotomy between rules and exceptions, or grammar and lexicon, the inherently probabilistic nature of speakers’ perception of analogy and word internal structure, and their ability to generalize to novel items from attested evidence. Although it is probably premature to anticipate and assess the prospects of these models, their current impact on language research can hardly be overestimated. In a few years, data-driven assessment of theoretical models is expected to play an irreplaceable role in pacing progress in all branches of language sciences, from typological and pragmatic approaches to cognitive and formal ones.

Article

Japanese exhibits some unique features with respect to phrase structure and movement. It is well-known that its phrase structure is strictly head-final. It also provides ample evidence that a sentence may have more complex structure than its surface form suggests. Causative sentences are the best-known example of this. They appear to be simple sentences with verbs accompanying the causative suffix, -sase. But the causative suffix is an independent verb and takes a small clause vP complement in the syntactic representation. Japanese sentences can have a rich structure in the right periphery. For example, embedded clauses may contain up to three overt complementizers, corresponding to Finite (no), Interrogative (ka), and Report/Force (to). Matrix clauses may end in a sequence of discourse particles, such as wa, yo, and ne. Each of the complementizers and discourse particles has a selectional requirement of its own. More research is required to settle on the functional heads in the nominal structure. Among the controversial issues are whether D is present and whether Case markers should be analyzed as independent heads. Various kinds of movement operations are observed in the language. NP-movement to the subject position takes place in passive and unaccusative sentences, and clausal comparatives and clefts are derived by operator-movement. Scrambling is a unique movement operation that should be distinguished from both NP-movement and operator-movement. It does not establish operator-variable relations but is not subject to the locality requirements imposed on NP-movement. It cannot be PF-movement as it creates new binding possibilities. It is still debated whether head movement, for example, the movement of verb to tense, takes place in the language.