1-10 of 536 Results

Article

Enregisterment  

Asif Agha

Features of interpersonally perceivable communicative conduct, including speech, function as indexical signs insofar as they point to or delineate features of their contextual surround; they function as social indexicals when what they delineate are aspects of the social roles or relationships performed by interactants or the social practices in which interactants are engaged; and they function as stereotypic social indexicals when many persons construe them in comparable ways. Enregisterment is the sociohistorical process through which stereotypic social indexicals are differentiated from each other and organized into socially distributed registers of communication. A register is identified by attending to the metapragmatic behaviors of its users, behaviors that typify the pragmatic or indexical values of its signs. To identify a register is to characterize three variables—its exponents, its social range, and its social domain—and their values or attributes: The exponents of a register are the perceivable behaviors through which it is performed, whose semiotic range may include speech and non-speech signs arrayed into co-occurrence styles, where speech segments may involve discrete repertoires, and where performed exponents serve as diacritics that differentiate the register from others. The social range of a register is the range of social indexical effects performable through its use—whether usage is emblematic of social categories of speaker-actor (viz., class, gender, caste, profession, etc.), of relationships to interactants, or of the social practices such usage makes palpable or sustains. The social domain of a register is the group of persons acquainted with the register, those able to perform or construe the effects enactable through it. All speakers of a language do not acquire competence in all its speech registers during the normal course of language socialization. Asymmetries of socialization link contrasts among registers to features of social organization, such as facts of positional ranking within society, the ability to take part in specific social practices, opportunities within a division of labor, and the myriad forms of exclusion or belonging that emerge as outcomes of such processes.

Article

Ibero-Romance I: Portuguese and Galician  

Inês Duarte

Portuguese and Galician are spoken in the westernmost area of the Iberian Peninsula. They share a common origin, Galician-Portuguese, a language with both innovative and conservative traits with respect to Latin. Historical and political factors caused Galician-Portuguese to split into Galician and Portuguese. The status of Portuguese as a national language led to its early standardization and its path of linguistic change is well documented. Galician and Portuguese share grammatical features differentiating them from other Ibero-Romance languages, in spite of the influence of Spanish in the former and of the presence of innovative grammatical traits in the latter.

Article

Segmental Phenomena in Germanic: Vowels  

Arjen Versloot

Germanic languages are typologically rich in their vowel inventories, with many different qualities, often with phonemic length oppositions, including both monophthongs and diphthongs. Vowel contrasts are not only used to mark lexical contrasts (minimal lexical pairs) but often also to mark morphological categories, such as number, case, tense, or person. Vowel harmony, vowel balance, tone (“accent”), and nasalization can be phonologically distinctive in some languages, mostly in those with relatively few speakers. These rich inventories are restricted to the root syllables, which are the locus of word stress in Germanic languages. In unstressed positions, most languages have (nearly) only [ə]; the maximum number of unstressed vowels is five.

Article

Construction-Based Research in China  

Xu Yang and Randy J. Lapolla

Research on construction-based grammar in China began in the late 1990s. Since its initial stages of introduction and preliminary exploration, it has entered a stage of productive and innovative development. In the past two decades, Chinese construction grammarians have achieved a number of valuable research results. In terms of theoretical applications, they have described and explained various types of constructions, such as schematic, partly variable, and fully substantive constructions. They have also applied the constructionist approach to the teaching of Chinese as a second language, proposing some new grammar systems or teaching modes such as the construction-chunk approach (构式-语块教学法), the lexicon-construction interaction model (词汇-构式互动体系), and trinitarian grammar (三一语法). In terms of theoretical innovation, Chinese construction grammarians have put forward theories or hypotheses such as the unification of grammar and rhetoric through constructions, the concept of lexical coercion, and interactive construction grammar (互动构式语法). However, some problems have also emerged in the field of construction grammar approaches. These include a narrow understanding of the concept of construction, a limited range of research topics, and a narrow range of disciplinary perspectives and methods. To ensure the long-term development of construction-based research in China, scholars should be encouraged to make the following changes: First, they should adopt a usage-based approach using natural data, and they should keep up with advances in the study of construction networks. Second, they should broaden the scope of construction-based research and integrate it with language typology and historical linguistics. Finally, they should integrate cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary research findings and methods. In this way, construction-based research in China can continue to flourish and make significant contributions to the study of grammar and language.

Article

Differential Object Marking in the Romance Languages  

David Gerards

In its most narrow sense, differential object marking (henceforth DOM) refers to a state of affairs in which a proper subset of direct objects of a given language receives overt marking by a morpheme A, while the complementary proper subset of direct objects either does not receive any such marking at all or receives overt marking by another morpheme B. DOM is triggered by (usually a complex interplay of) object-related features, such as animacy, referentiality, and topicality, as well as by additional verbal and configurational ones, such as telicity and secondary predication, among others. Further features determining the extension of DOM are transitivity, affectedness, and individuation. Documented in many language families, DOM is also firmly anchored in Romance. Its prenominal nature shows that it is yet another instantiation of the typological change from primarily right-headed Classical Latin to primarily left-headed Romance. Romance varieties differ as to the degree of grammaticalization of DOM. Among the “big five” national languages, only Spanish and Romanian display a well-developed DOM-system (realized by a and pe, respectively). Yet, a pan-Romance look reveals that DOM is also well attested in Asturian, many Italo-Romance dialects (e.g., Corsican, Engadinese Romansh, Sardinian, Sicilian, Southern Italian), and even some Gallo-Romance varieties (e.g., Gascon and Languedocian). These latter partly use DOM-morphemes (henceforth DOM-m; within glosses, DOM reads “direct object marker”) different from a and pe and, in addition, in part display a complementary distribution of DOM and definite articles. Generally speaking, Romance DOM is on the rise, in the sense that it arose with dislocated, topicalized strong personal pronouns in Late Latin and has since been diachronically expanding along typologically well-established pathways. Such processes continue to be visible in a number of contemporary Romance varieties, among which are Argentinian Spanish and some non-prescriptive registers of Galician and Catalan. The potential sensitivity of DOM to language contact is also evinced by some Italian and French regiolects in contact with varieties making wider use of DOM. At the same time, DOM-grammaticalization may be reversible: Cuban and Dominican Spanish, for instance, have been reported to display receding DOM; the same is true of Spanish in a number of language contact and heritage speaker settings and of post-18th-century Portuguese. Even Standard Italian, Northern Italian dialects, Standard French, and Francoprovençal—often argued not to possess DOM at all—do marginally allow for it with dislocated strong first- and second-person personal pronouns.

Article

Negative Polarity Items in Chinese  

Bo Xue and Haihua Pan

Negative polarity items (NPIs) are well known for their limited distribution, that is, their negation-implicating contexts, the phenomenon of which has attracted much attention in generative linguistics since Klima’s seminal work. There is a large amount of research on NPI licensing that aims to (a) identify the range of potential licensors of NPIs, also known as Ladusaw’s licensor question; (b) ascertain the semantic/logical properties shared by these licensors; (c) elucidate the licensing dependency, for example, whether the dependency between an NPI and its licensor involves a structural requirement like c-command, and (d) shed light on the nature of polarity-sensitive items in natural languages and, more generally, the architectural organization of the syntax–semantics and semantics–pragmatics interfaces. Theories of NPI licensing on the market abound, ranging from Klima’s affectivity to the influential Fauconnier–Ladusaw downward-entailingness (DE) as well as some weakened versions of Ladusaw’s licensing condition like (non-)veridicality and Strawson downward-entailingness. These theories are primarily concerned with pinpointing the logical properties of NPI licensors and elucidating the dependency between a licensor and its licensee. Broadly speaking, NPIs are assumed to be in the scope of some negative element. On the licensor side, various logical properties have been identified, resulting in a more fine-grained distinction between different negative strengths including downward-entailing, anti-additive, and anti-morphic. Moreover, a diverse class of NPIs has been uncovered and differentiated, including English weak NPIs like any/ever, for which simple DE would suffice, and stronger NPIs like in years/the minimizer sleep a wink, which are more selective and correlate with a stronger negative strength, namely, anti-additivity. Further theoretical developments of NPI licensing shift to the nature of NPIs and their communicative roles in a discourse, unearthing important properties like domain-widening in need of semantic strengthening (with its recent implementation in the alternative-and-exhaustification framework), which advances the understanding of their polarity-sensitive profiles. Chinese NPIs include renhe-phrases (similar to English any) and wh-items, and minimizers, all of which are also confined to certain negative semantic contexts and not acceptable if they occur in simple positive episodic sentences without Chinese dou ‘all’. Descriptively, among canonical affective contexts(those including sentential negation, yes–no/wh questions, intensional verbs, if-clauses, imperatives, modals, adversative emotive predicates, adverb dou ‘all’, and the exclusive particle zhiyou ‘only’), renhe-phrases, and wh-items can be licensed by sentential negation, yes–no questions, intensional verbs, if-clauses, imperatives, modals, and the left restrictor of dou ‘all’, whereas minimizers like yi-fen qian ‘one penny’ display a more constrained distribution and can only be licensed by sentential negation, yes–no rhetorical questions, concessive if-clauses, and the left restrictor of dou. There are at least two research questions worth exploring in the future. First, the affective contexts licensing Chinese renhe-phrases, wh-items, and minimizers are not totally the same, with minimizers being more constrained in their distribution. What could explain the unique behavior of Chinese minimizers? Why are these minimizers deviant in modal contexts and in need of the likelihood reasoning? Second, the affective contexts licensing Chinese NPIs do not totally overlap with those licensing English any. What could explain the divergent distributions of NPIs cross-linguistically?

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.