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Article

Number Marking in Nouns and Adjectives in the Romance Languages  

Franck Floricic

Even though Romance languages are taken to be well-known because of their clearly identified ancestor, they continuously offer a source of patterns and phenomena that are far from being properly taken into account in typological surveys. Corbett rightly pointed out that the question of number has erroneously been held to be simple and straightforward. Needless to say, if many Romance varieties suffer from endangerment or from sociological marginalization, other varieties like French are in some sense trapped in the ice of their norm and such a situation may lead in some cases to questionable analyses. Any French speaker will hold that the feminine of adjectives such as natif [naˈtif] ‘native’ is formed by substituting [f] for [v] and adding final -e at the orthographic level, hence the feminine singular form native [naˈtiv], as in, say, vert-e ‘green’. It is clear, however, that the opposition between natif and native relies on voice-alternation of the adjective final consonant. Various examples of this kind can be adduced to show how phonetic processes contribute to morphological oppositions.

Article

Pronominal and Expletive Subjects in Germanic  

Gunther De Vogelaer

The syntax ofGermanic subject pronouns is only minimally different from nominal subjects. Germanic has to a large extent dispensed with null subjects, leading to a tendency to also use pronouns to refer to highly accessible subjects and the frequent use of expletive subjects, for instance with weather verbs or in other impersonal constructions. Correspondingly, all Germanic languages at least show some tendency to formally reduce subject pronouns in unstressed positions, and some languages have encoded a more systematic distinction between strong and weak forms, with weak forms developing proper formal and distributional properties. Additional differences between Germanic languages regarding subject pronouns concern the emergence and use of honorifics and the degree to which pronominal reference still reflects nouns’ grammatical gender rather than being replaced with a semantic system encoding biological gender and individuation. Regards expletives, most derive from neuter pronouns es or deictic adverbs der . The main difference within Germanic with respect to their use is whether they function as first-position placeholders (e.g., Icelandic) vis-à-vis languages in which they are generally used in impersonal constructions, also in a post-verbal position (e.g., Dutch). Both the constraints on referential null subjects and the use of expletives in impersonal constructions are typologically rare and have been related to other aspects of Germanic grammar, such as the verb-second property and widespread leveling in the verbal agreement paradigm. Research has also addressed the relationship between subject pronouns and their antecedent, as well as the semantic and pragmatic conditions under which weak pronouns and expletives are used.

Article

Recent Impact of English on Other Germanic Languages  

Eline Zenner

English is a global language. Synthesizing how it has impacted other languages is far from straightforward, given the sheer number of languages it is in contact with, the diversity of the outcome of this contact, and its dependence on the nature and history of the particularities of the contact setting, the domains of use, and the actual users involved. Even when reducing the span to Germanic languages within the European context, at least two stories can be told. A first account focuses on the use of English as a means of communication in Europe. The impact on other Germanic languages then mainly focuses on the progressive use of English instead of other Germanic languages in domains such as (international) business, (tertiary) education, or science. A second account rather foregrounds how English is used within Germanic languages, studying variation and change that is induced by contact with English, primarily in the form of lexical borrowing. The question then becomes which English words, phrases, and constructions have been imported; how this import takes place; and why. Both accounts can be considered as part of the same story, with a stronger presence of English as a means of communication in certain domains also leading to more intense contact, more bilingual speakers, and, hence, more occasions for contact-induced variation and change. Although the theoretical frameworks, research questions and methodologies relied on in scholarly work focusing on English instead of other Germanic languages are quite different from those in work on the use of English within other Germanic languages, closer inspection reveals that their objectives are quite similar overall. First, while research on English as a means of communication fundamentally aims to conceptualize the relationship between English and other languages, research on borrowing does the same at the level of the linguistic system, targeting the relationship between English terms and the heritage lexicon. Second, both accounts consider whether existing linguistic terminology is sufficiently apt for this conceptualization, with critical musings on terms such as variety or native speaker in research on the use of English as a lingua franca, or on loanword and synonymy in the field of borrowing. Finally, strengthened by findings from empirical research, these conceptualizations are used to inspire, sometimes spark, or rather defuse, ideological debates on the status of English as a global language. This article provides a closer description of these research themes, prioritizing research on the impact of English on German, Dutch, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish, within the European areas traditionally associated with these languages. To set the scene, a more panoramic perspective is adopted in the first section, which briefly describes the rationale of this article.

Article

Spanish in Contact With English in the United States  

Phillip M. Carter and Rachel Varra

In the United States, Spanish is spoken by more than 50 million people, making it one of the largest Spanish-speaking populations in the world. What differentiates Spanish in the United States from most other national contexts is the ubiquitous presence of English, which engenders two important and related effects. First, at the level of the individual, the overwhelming majority of Spanish speakers are bilingual. Second, at the level of the speech community, Spanish is involved in a situation of language shift, in which Spanish is continuously abandoned generation by generation. Linguists studying Spanish in the United States want to know if these factors, which together we call “contact with English,” influence the structures of Spanish in the United States. Decades of research on this topic seem to indicate that, with the exception of lexical-level phenomena, the degree to which English represents both a direct force on and a driving factor of change in Spanish in the United States may be less than previously anticipated. Even where the influence of English is indisputable—the lexicon—the durability of changes due to English is still a matter of empirical investigation. The influence of English, it is clear, interacts in variegated and nuanced ways not only with the internal linguistic mechanisms of the Spanish grammatical system but also with respect to the influence of Spanish dialects in contact with each other in particular local ecologies.

Article

Binding in Germanic  

Eric Reuland and Martin Everaert

All languages have expressions, typically pronominals and anaphors, that may or must depend for their interpretation on another expression, their antecedent. When such a dependency is subject to structural conditions, it reflects binding. Although there is considerable variation in binding patterns cross-linguistically, in fact, variation is along a limited set of parameters. The Germanic languages exemplify some of the main factors involved. In Germanic, third-person pronominals generally do not allow binding by a co-argument. However, in Frisian and Afrikaans, they do, being embedded in a richer structure than meets the eye. In Continental West Germanic and Scandinavian, anaphors come in two types: simplex anaphors (SE-anaphors)—deficient for number and gender—and complex anaphors (SELF-anaphors). These typically consist of a pronominal or SE-anaphor combined with an element like Dutch zelf ‘self’ or one of its cognates. In all the Germanic languages SELF-anaphors are bound in their local domain—approximately the domain of their nearest subject—except in a few identifiable positions, where they are interpreted logophorically. That is, they accept a non-local antecedent, provided this element holds the perspective of the sentence. The distribution of SE-anaphors involves three different conditions. First, they can be bound by a co-argument only if the verb belongs to a restricted class, which allows syntactic detransitivization. Second, in general, SE-anaphors allow non-local binding. But the conditions differ among subgroups. In Dutch and German, they can only be bound non-locally when contained in a causative or perception verb complement or a small clause. In Mainland Scandinavian, non-local binding is, in principle, available to all infinitival clauses (subject to some dialectal variation). For instance, in some varieties of Norwegian, referentiality of intervening subjects restricts binding; in other varieties, the restricting factor is not “finiteness” but “being specified for tense.” Third, in Icelandic long-distance antecedents beyond the infinitival domain are licensed by a subjunctive, together with the requirement that the antecedent holds the perspective. Faroese largely patterns like Icelandic, although lacking a subjunctive. However, the class of verbs that allow this pattern coincides with the class of verbs in Icelandic that have a subjunctive complement. Non-local binding of SE-anaphors is sensitive to the requirement that the antecedent be animate, but the languages show differences in the details. Unlike the West Germanic languages, the Scandinavian languages all have a possessive reflexive in third person. In general, their distribution appears to be quite close to that of SE-anaphors, but this is subject to dialectal variation, with various differences in the details.

Article

The Locative Existential Construction in Chinese  

Yang Gu and Jie Guo

The locative inversion constructions are characterized by a noncanonical word order where a locative phrase is inverted preceding the verb and the thematic subject follows the verb. This phenomenon is found quite common crosslinguistically, though whether “inversion” is the right label for the constructions or not remains controversial. Issues regarding the status of the locative phrase, Case assignment, unaccusativity, verb argument structure, agreement, and the mechanism that triggers this noncanonical word order have been the major concerns in various proposals. The closest constructions that exhibit similar word order found in Chinese are locative existential constructions (LECs). However, the assumption of locative inversion in the constructions requires substantial empirical support. The Chinese LECs depict or present the existence of an entity or an eventuality. As in English and other languages where locative inversion prevails, issues related to the grammatical function of the locative phrase, Case assignment, and types of verbs in LECs draw a lot of attention from researchers in Chinese linguistics. In particular, research on the types of verbs in LECs has important bearing on the possible syntactic derivation of locative existential sentences. The discussions in this article show that the verbs allowed in the constructions vary. Some are intrinsically intransitive postural verbs, and many others are lexical-syntactically derived from ditransitive placement verbs such as fang ‘put’, gua ‘hang’, etc. via decausativization. The result of the derivation yields verbs that show alternation with their ditransitive counterparts. These derived verbs are seemingly similar to the unaccusative member of the causative~unaccusative pairs in English, but different in terms of their argument structure and syntactic behavior. The intransitive and the derived verbs found in the LECs are shown to have the same lexical semantic sense of spatial configuration and can be treated on a par with a template of [y Location HAVE z Theme]. The abstract verb HAVE, meaning existentiality but lacking manner of existence, can be lexicalized by verbs, specifying various manner of existentiality. In other words, the argument structure of the verbs in the constructions is , where the location is realized by a locative phrase, which is a noun phrase in Chinese, base generated in [Spec, vP] in accordance with VP-internal Subject Hypothesis, and the theme by another noun phrase denoting an entity. It is the lexical semantics of these verbs that accounts for not only the general properties of Chinese LECs shared with other languages like English but also the language particular properties such as the word order and the aspect marker obligatorily used in Chinese LECs. Given these particular properties, Chinese LECs are shown not to involve locative inversion.

Article

Phonological Variation and Change in Latin American Spanish  

Pedro Martín-Butragueño and Érika Mendoza

“Latin American Spanish” (LAS) represents a substantial portion of the Spanish-speaking world. The geographical distances, the contrasts between rural and extremely urbanized areas, the existence of strong social inequalities and migratory streams, and the presence of a high number of indigenous American languages—all create the conditions for a complex linguistic reality, clearly diversified, while also unitary. Many variable linguistic phenomena correlate with the age of LAS expansion and the continuing massive urbanization that began in the 1960s. American Spanish-speaking communities have different segmental processes, such as consonantal weakening in intervocalic contexts, deletion in syllabic coda, vowel devoicing, among others. On the prosodic level, there is dialectal variation in intonational patterns and differences in rhythmic properties. Both segmental and prosodic variation is conditioned by linguistic, geographical, and social factors.

Article

Segmental Phenomena in Germanic: Consonants  

Samantha Litty and Joseph Salmons

Speech sounds are divided into vowels and consonants, the latter being the focus here. Germanic includes ancient and modern “named languages”—traditionally divided into North Germanic (e.g., Swedish, Danish, Faroese), West Germanic (e.g., German, English, Yiddish), and East Germanic languages not spoken for centuries (notably Gothic). The family also includes countless “dialects,” which are often not mutually intelligible and so could be understood as distinct languages. Languages of the world vary in how many consonants distinguish differences in meaning (create phonological contrasts), like bear versus pear, from 6 to over 100. Most have about 20 and Germanic languages are near that number. Beyond abstract phonological contrasts, each consonant varies phonetically, in actual pronunciation, from varying degrees of aspiration on p, t, k and voicing on b, d, g to fundamental variation in the realizations of /r/, /l/, and /h/. Key consonantal phenomena are presented in historical context and for contemporary languages, with an emphasis on distinguishing abstract, phonological patterns from concrete, phonetic ones. Despite the long research tradition, many issues proffer opportunities to advance the field and are discussed to encourage readers to engage with them.

Article

The Syntax of Causatives in the Romance Languages  

Fabienne Martin

This article discusses the syntax of lexical and periphrastic causative verbs in the Romance languages. Several aspects of these verbs are examined: the building blocks of lexical causative verbs, the role of reflexive marking on the anticausative form, the interaction between causativity and agentivity, the morphosyntactic make-up of causative verbs with causative semantics. It offers a comprehensive typology of lexical causatives, resultatives and periphrastic causatives, relying on recent research on these topics.

Article

Diatheses in Germanic  

Simon Kasper

An alternation between clauses is treated as a diathetical alternation (a) if one or more semantic roles associated with the main verb exhibit differential grammatical (i.e., morphological or syntactic) encoding, (b) if the overt lexical expressions have same lexical roots, and (c) if the clauses approximately share at least the meaning and truth conditions of the semantically less specific clause alternant. This qualifies as diathesis what has come to be known as the canonical passive, impersonal passive, non-canonical passive, pseudo-passive, anticausative, the dative alternation, and the locative alternation, among others. The focus of this article is on the semantic restrictions governing a clause’s participation in various diathetical alternations across the modern Germanic (standard) languages. Semantic differences between alternating clauses are captured using a sophisticated semantic role account. Grammatical encoding of diathesis is described in a theory-neutral manner using the four-case system of the old Germanic languages as a tertium comparationis and syntactic function notions from descriptive typology. Diatheses are differentiated by the semantic roles that are fore- and backgrounded by means of the syntactic functions they bear. The roles that alternate in grammatical coding are foregrounded in the clause in which they have the higher syntactic function in a syntactic function hierarchy, and they are backgrounded in the clause in which they have the lower syntactic function. In a first set of diatheses, alternations are described in which the proto-agent role is backgrounded and a proto-patient is foregrounded. This set includes a “patient passive” and the “anticausative domain.” In a second set of diatheses, the proto-agent is again backgrounded, but now the proto-recipient is foregrounded. This is illustrated using the “eventive recipient passive.” Completing this pattern, the “locational passive” represents a diathetical pattern in which the proto-agent role is backgrounded once more and the proto-locational role is foregrounded. Other types of diatheses in which the proto-locational is foregrounded and the proto-patient is backgrounded are exemplified by means of the location/possession alternation (dative alternation) and the location/affection alternation (e.g., locative and applicative alternations).