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Article

Alignment and Word Order in the Romance Languages  

Francesco Rovai

The term “alignment” refers to the formal realization of the argument structure of the clause, that is, the ways in which the core arguments of the predicate are encoded by means of three main morphosyntactic devices: nominal case marking (morphological case, adpositions), verb marking systems (verbal agreement, pronominal affixes, auxiliaries, voice distinctions, etc.), and word order. The relative importance of these mechanisms of argument coding may considerably vary from language to language. In the Romance family, a major role is played by finite verb agreement and, to a lesser extent, auxiliary selection, participial agreement, voice distinctions, and word order, depending on the language/variety. Most typically, both transitive and intransitive subjects share the same formal coding (they control finite verb agreement and precede the verb in the basic word order) and are distinguished from direct objects (which do not control finite verb agreement and follow the verb in the basic word order). This arrangement of the argument structure is traditionally known as “nominative/accusative” alignment and can be easily identified as the main alignment of the Romance languages. Note that, with very few exceptions, nominal case marking is instead “neutral,” since no overt morphological distinction is made between subject and object arguments after the loss of the Latin case system. However, although the Romance languages can legitimately be associated with an accusative alignment, it must be borne in mind that, whatever the property selected, natural languages speak against an all-encompassing, holistic typology. A language “belongs” to an alignment type only insofar as it displays a significantly above-average frequency of clause structures with that kind of argument coding, but this does not exclude the existence of several grammatical domains that partake of different alignments. In the Romance family, minor patterns are attested that are not consistent with an accusative alignment. In part, they depend on robust crosslinguistic tendencies in the distribution of the different alignment types when they coexist in the same language. In part, they reflect phenomena of morphosyntactic realignment that can be traced back to the transition from Latin to Romance, when, alongside the dominant accusative alignment of the classical language, Late Latin developed an active alignment in some domains of the grammar—a development that has its roots in Classical and Early Latin. Today, the Romance languages preserve traces of this intermediate stage, but in large part, the signs of it have been replaced with novel accusative structures. In particular, at the level of the sentence, there emerges an accusative-aligned word order, with the preverbal position realizing the default “subject” position and the postverbal position instantiating the default “object” position.

Article

Dislocation in the Romance Languages: Syntax, Semantics, Discourse, Acquisition  

Davide Garassino

Dislocations are syntactic constructions consisting of a core sentence and a detached constituent located outside the clause, either at its left (left dislocation) or at its right (right dislocation). Typically, although not invariably, the clause hosts a resumptive element, often a pronoun, which is co-referent with the detached constituent. This separation between an extra-clausal element and the sentence led to the classification of dislocations as “non-canonical” or “marked” syntactic structures. Dislocations are attested in many language families, to the extent that they can be regarded as a language universal. However, these constructions have predominantly been examined in Germanic and Romance languages, both in formal and functional frameworks. Left and right dislocations are usually analyzed as topic-marking structures, in which the referent of the detached element has the function of sentence topic. However, specific types of topics appear to preferentially occur in either left or right dislocation. For example, left dislocations often convey topic shifts and contrastive topics, while continuous (or familiar) topics are more commonly found in right dislocations. Nonetheless, corpus-based research unveiled a more nuanced situation. Furthermore, interactionally oriented studies also suggest that exploring dislocations in spontaneous conversations is crucial for comprehending their broad functional spectrum. Thus, dislocations present many intriguing challenges to Romance linguistics, including the questions, To what extent do left and right dislocations differ syntactically and pragmatically across Romance languages? Are descriptions framed in terms of “topic establishing” and “topic promotion” truly adequate? What are the main prosodic characteristics of left and right dislocations? and What challenges do L1 and L2 learners encounter in the acquisition of these constructions?

Article

Gothic and Other East Germanic Varieties  

Stefan Schaffner

Biblical Gothic is the earliest Germanic language preserved in a longer text. The main source is represented by the Bible translation of the Visigothic Arian Christian bishop Wulfila ( born ca. 311, deceased ca. 382–383). Another few short Gothic texts are extant. For the translation of the Bible (ca. 350–380), on the basis of a Greek text, Wulfila invented his own alphabet (called Wulfila’s alphabet), using the Greek alphabet as model, with the addition of Latin and runic characters. Several manuscripts (5th/6th century; the most famous is the Uppsala Codex argenteus) contain the greater part of the New Testament. In spite of its fragmentary documentation, Gothic represents without doubt an important basis for the reconstruction of Proto-Germanic, because it offers—due to its early attestation—very archaic features in all areas of its grammar in comparison with the other old Germanic languages, the documentation of which began some centuries later. Gothic also shows recent innovations (especially the almost complete elimination of the effects of Verner’s Law within the strong verbs). The position of Gothic within the other Germanic subgroups, North and West Germanic, is still a matter of controversial discussion. Whereas older research stressed the correspondences between Gothic and North Germanic and, therefore, favored a closer relationship between them, postulating a subgroup Goto-Nordic, currently, a subgrouping into Northwest Germanic on the one hand and East Germanic (with Gothic as the most important representative) one the other hand is preferred, although this model also leaves open a couple of questions, giving impetus to further research. Other varieties of East Germanic are runic epigraphic texts (less than 10, most of them probably Gothic) from the 1st half of the 3rd century until the end of the 6th century. One of them (on the Charnay fibula, 2nd half of the 6th century) is probably of Burgundian origin. The documentation of other EGrm (East Germanic). languages is very poor and consists almost only of a few names. Two short syntagmata can probably be attributed to Vandalic. Crimean Gothic, the latest attested EGrm. language, is documented in a list of several dozen words and three lines of a cantilena. Most attested forms seem to represent a late EGrm. dialect.

Article

Intonation in the Romance Languages  

Barbara Gili Fivela

The article discusses the main intonation features of Catalan, French, Italian, Occitan, Portuguese, Raeto-Romance, Romanian, Sardinian, and Spanish, even though they have been investigated to different extents for their intonation traits. Differing amount of research has been carried out on each individual language, this research has often been performed with different methods and with reference to different frameworks, and, finally, investigations have considered language dialects and varieties in a variety of ways. Nevertheless, scientific literature on intonation in Romance languages, especially that which refers to the autosegmental–metrical framework, has highlighted similarities and differences regarding prominence, phrasing, and the relationship between intonation patterns and pragmatic meaning. Pitch prominence is attested in all languages and varieties, whether it is related to lexical stressed positions or accentual phrases (APs), and the nuclear prominence does not need to be implemented on the rightmost element; consistently, Romance languages usually show pitch-range compression rather than de-accenting in statements. As for phrasing, most languages and varieties feature at least two levels above the word (the intonational phrase [IP] and the intermediate phrase [ip]), while some languages and varieties also feature a third level in the prosodic hierarchy (the AP), and one variety has one level only (the IP). Regarding pitch patterns, languages and varieties show a highly variable number of nuclear contours and internal variation; these, however, largely depend on the sentence type; this is because variation tends to be greater in questions than in broad-focus statements, where the usual pattern a falling one Romance languages. The article’s final remarks focus on open issues, such as the debates on pitch-accent density and the prosodic levels, with a specific reference to the ip constituent and to constituents larger than the IP. Additionally, it addresses the need for larger comparable corpora, collected by means of the same methods and transcribed with reference to the same framework, as well as for a wider perspective which also takes into account the integration of context and multimodal information, in order to deepen the current body of knowledge on intonation in the Romance languages.

Article

Nominal Inflectional Morphology in Germanic: Nouns  

Christian Zimmer

The modern Germanic languages encode up to three categories on nouns: number (with the values singular and plural), case (with up to four values: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitive), and definiteness (with the values definite and indefinite). The variation within this branch of the Indo-European language family is immense: While, for example, Icelandic encodes all three categories and all the values mentioned, English differentiates only between singular and plural via the inflection of nouns. Such differences in the number of categories that are encoded on nouns are due to the grammaticalization of postnominal articles into bound definiteness markers in the North Germanic languages, which has not taken place in the other Germanic languages, and the loss of case (e.g., in English and most, but not all, other Germanic languages). Furthermore, Germanic languages differ greatly in how number and case are encoded. Firstly, the coding techniques suffixation, stem modulation, subtraction, tone, and combinations of these techniques (plus zero marking) vary in frequency across the languages at hand. Secondly, case and number can be expressed within a cumulative formative (this is the case in Icelandic and Faroese) or with the help of separate formatives. Thirdly, the extent to which allomorphy can be observed varies considerably—ranging from virtually no allomorphy in English (with -s and phonologically determined variants as the only formative) to intricate systems in Icelandic and Faroese. And fourthly, allomorphs are assigned according to different principles, with phonology (both segmental and suprasegmental), semantics, and grammatical gender being of varying importance.

Article

Phonological Variation and Change in Catalan  

Josefina Carrera-Sabaté

The article gives an overview of the origin and vitality of several ongoing processes of change in Catalan. In the area of consonants, it presents (a) the existing alternation between [ʎ] and [j] or [ʝ] (and [ʒ]) in Eastern Catalan and (b) the variation between post-alveolo-palatal fricatives and affricates in different positions in word-initial, post-consonantal, intervocalic, and word-final position, also taking into account Eastern and Western Catalan dialects. In the area of vowels, the article presents the variation that exists within the stressed and unstressed vowel systems in Catalan: (a) The stressed vowel systems have different mid vowels among the Catalan dialects, and these vowels present important differences in openness; (b) the unstressed vowel systems of Catalan split vowel variation within Catalan dialects into two main groups (Eastern and Western) taking into account the scope of vowel reduction and, in particular, the phonological mechanisms of these groups. The article also contains a description of variable patterns of intonation in Catalan regarding assertions, imperatives, and questions. These patterns are closely tied to pragmatics, with questions having the most variable patterns among Catalan dialects. The generalized observation of the ongoing processes of variation and change allows the conclusion that schooling in Catalan and the teaching of written Catalan, after a dictatorship that prohibited it, are bringing about changes in pronunciation that are especially conditioned by the written language. These changes tend to be led by the youngest generations in the urban centers that have the most influence over their respective administrative zones. These are important enclaves for the spread of linguistic changes and are areas in which contact with and use of Spanish and, in the early 21st century, other languages are also leaving a mark on phonetics.

Article

PPs and Particles in Germanic  

Marion Elenbaas

Prepositional phrases (PPs) are headed by a preposition, an indeclinable word that expresses relationships between two entities, the Figure and the Ground. Prepositions are members of a larger class of adpositions, which also includes postpositions, circumpositions, and particles. The Germanic languages are predominantly prepositional, while postpositions and circumpositions are much rarer. Prepositions express either spatial (locative, directional) relationships or nonspatial (such as temporal, aspectual) relationships. PPs may function as nonargument modifiers (of verbs, nouns, adjectives) or as arguments (of verbs, nouns, adjectives). The syntax and argument structure of PPs is characterized by a range of phenomena that are found across the Germanic languages, though not necessarily to the same extent and with the same properties. A number of prepositions are homonymous with so-called particles, which feature in what is often called a particle (or “phrasal”) verb. Particle verbs are extremely common in all Germanic languages and have an array of spatial and nonspatial meanings. While there is some variation in the morphosyntactic behavior of particle verbs across the Germanic languages, they have in common that they straddle the boundary between morphology and syntax: the verb and the particle behave as a unit, and yet they are separable. Particles are often treated as intransitive prepositions (with a Figure but without a Ground) and therefore as a type of adposition. The heterogeneous nature of the category of adposition and the characteristics of PPs and particles in Germanic languages have led to considerable debate concerning the functional or lexical nature of adpositions as well as the morphological (word) status or syntactic (phrasal) status of particle verbs.

Article

Pragmatic Approaches to Germanic Languages  

Karin Aijmer

Elements that have pragmatic functions are, for example, pragmatic markers, modal particles, vocatives, conversational routines (apologies, thanks), interjections, pauses, tag questions, general extenders, response forms, and comment clauses. Pragmatic markers are frequent in English and other Germanic languages. They can be analyzed based on a form-to-function approach drawing on different theoretical frameworks such as conversation analysis, interactional linguistics, or relevance theory. A pervasive change in the orientation of pragmatics has been achieved by its broadening to the study of variation. Pragmatic markers have, for example, been compared across languages regarding their position in the sentence and combinability with other pragmatic markers. Another “red thread” in the development of pragmatics in Germanic languages is the availability of spoken corpora facilitating the empirical analysis of the relationship between form, function, and context. Modal particles, interjections, and hesitation markers are regarded as subclasses of pragmatic markers that can be given a functional analysis. Modal particles are studied especially in German, where they are generally regarded as a special word class distinct from pragmatic markers. Address forms may vary across languages and varieties of languages depending on social factors and cultural preferences. Many Germanic languages (but not English) make a distinction between the informal T-pronoun of address in the singular (Swedish du; German du) and a formal plural V-form of address (Swedish ni; German sie). Politeness and speech acts are another central research area in pragmatics. Some researchers have applied a conversation analysis approach to the study of speech acts such as requests and compliments. The majority of speech act studies are based on discourse completion tests and role-plays. Corpora are less suited to analyze speech acts unless the forms are routinized. One way to solve this methodological problem is indicated by the development of schemes for pragmatically annotating speech acts in corpora.

Article

South-Eastern Gallo-Romance: Francoprovençal  

Andres M. Kristol

Francoprovençal is on UNESCO’s red list of the world’s most endangered languages. It is in danger of disappearing within one to two generations. Historically spoken in a large region of south-eastern France, northern Italy and French-speaking Switzerland, and lacking political unity, it is not ‘a’ language, but a set of dialects with common characteristics. Lacking any standardisation, its dialects show many of the evolutionary possibilities of Western Romance languages. Long regarded as a late separation from the Oïl area, it was traditionally described as a conservative Gallo-Romance language, rejecting Oïl innovations from about the eighth century onwards. More recent research has shown that its earliest linguistic features date back to the very beginning of the linguistic fragmentation of Galloromania (6th century at the latest); it is therefore just as ‘old’ as the other Gallo-romance languages. It thus has its own characteristic mixture of conservative and innovative phenomena among the Gallo-romance languages.

Article

Suprasegmental Phenomena in Germanic: Tonal Accent  

Pavel Iosad

Several Germanic varieties possess a phonological contrast usually referred to as “tonal accent.” They demonstrate phonological contrasts between words that are otherwise identical in their segmental make-up and the location of stress, as in (Urban East) Norwegian bønder ‘farmers’ and bønner ‘beans’, both segmentally [ˈbønːər]. Usually, the contrast is treated as implemented by pitch trajectories; hence, the name 'tonal accent.' Within Germanic, tonal accent contrasts are found in three (historically, perhaps four) areas. First, they occur in most varieties of Norwegian and Swedish, as well as in some Danish dialects; in addition, most varieties of Danish show a peculiar type of accentual distinction based on laryngealization, traditionally known as stød. Second, they are found in a set of West Germanic dialects along the middle Rhine and the Moselle, the so-called Franconian tonal area. Third, they are reported from many varieties of Low German, specifically North Low Saxon. Finally, they may have been present historically in Frisian. Three aspects of Germanic tonal accent systems are of particular interest to linguistic theory. In terms of synchronic analysis, accents have been considered as sui generis objects, as fundamentally tonal phenomena, and as artifacts of contrasts in metrical (foot) structure and its mapping to intonation. Diachronically, Germanic accents are a poor fit to the cross-linguistic typology of tonogenesis: their development is intimately tied to processes manipulating metrical structures, such as vowel lengthening, syllable deletion and insertion, and clash resolution. Finally, they offer some enlightening case studies with respect to the role of language contact in the development of prosodic systems.