1-10 of 118 Results  for:

  • Historical Linguistics x
Clear all

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

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

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

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.

Article

Derivation in Germanic  

Stefan Hartmann

Derivational word-formation processes play an important role in the Germanic languages. In particular, prefixation and suffixation are highly productive. In accordance with the so-called right-hand head principle, suffixes tend to determine the morphological category of a word, and are therefore often category-changing (e.g., verb to noun), while prefixes can lead to changes regarding the valency or case government of the items to which they attach. Derivational patterns differ in various aspects, including the degree to which they modify the semantics of their bases and their morphological productivity.

Article

Germanic Languages in Contact in Central and South America  

Karoline Kühl

West and North Germanic language varieties have been part of the Latin American language ecology since the middle of the 19th century, when European mass migration created Germanic-speaking immigrant communities in North, Central, and South America. The subsequent fate of the Germanic immigrant varieties in Latin America varied greatly in terms of how long intergenerational transfer has been maintained, if and to what degree language maintenance has been supported by linguistic codification and language teaching, and the degree of contact with the surrounding majority population. Some languages like the Mennonite Low German varieties have been quite repellent with regard to language change induced by contact with the majority languages Portuguese and/or Spanish, other (Germanic) immigrant varieties, and indigenous languages. However, contact with the majority population and other (immigrant) ethnic groups, bilingualism, and, accordingly, the influence of Spanish and/or Portuguese has been growing for most Germanic immigrant varieties at least since the 1950s. The long-standing German dialectological research tradition into extra-territorial Germanic language islands has led to detailed accounts of many German varieties in Latin America. Accounts of other Germanic varieties are much more restricted, both in numbers and in extent: Some like Argentine Danish or Patagonian Afrikaans have been described only recently; others, like Swedish in Brazil and Argentine Dutch, hardly at all. In all cases, the accounts differ greatly regarding if, and to what extent, language contact is included as a cause of language change. Based on the scholarly coverage, the extent of contact-induced change in the Germanic varieties in Latin America appears to vary greatly, but whether this impression is due to the varying degrees of attention that the accounts devote to the effects of language contact or to particular sociolinguistic circumstances preventing or promoting language contact cannot be established. Still, contact linguistic profiles of many Germanic immigrant varieties in Latin America present themselves as a promising terra incognita for future research. From a bird’s-eye perspective, we may in general terms conclude that the Germanic varieties in Latin America are characterized by lexical borrowing, at least for cultural loans and discourse-structuring elements, as well as ad hoc code-switching. Interestingly, a number of varieties show a similar pattern of integrating Spanish or Portuguese verb stems of verbs ending in -ir and -ar into a very similar inflectional Germanic paradigm (Misiones Swedish -era, Argentine Danish -is(ere), Riograndenser Hunsrückisch -ieren, Volga German -i(:)ere). In general, syntactical restructurings seem to be restricted, with the notable exception of standard deviant omission of mainly pronominal subjects and, partly, pronominal objects. Other developments are specific, applying only to individual varieties.

Article

History of the French Lexicon  

Olivier Bertrand

The French lexicon of the early 21st century has two main sources: In the early 21st century, approximately 87% of the vocabulary comes from Latin and 13% from many other languages. The French lexicon was created and developed roughly from the 7th–8th century ce up to the early 21st century. There are three ways to create vocabulary: inheritance from popular Latin, borrowing from other languages (as well as from written Latin), and internal creation (through semantic extension, derivation, and compounding).

Article

Register and Enregisterment in Germanic  

Jürgen Spitzmüller

Enregisterment denotes the sociolinguistic process within which specific forms of speaking, writing, or signing are subsumed by a social group into a coherent, distinctive whole (a language, a dialect, a standard, a slang etc.), which is often also given a label (such as Viennese, Spanglish, chatspeak, youth slang, officialese) and associated with specific contexts of use, media, groups of users, purposes, and ends, which are expected to be “typical” with regard to these forms. The product of such a process, an allegedly distinct set of communicative means that is associated (indexically linked) with assumed contexts and hence evokes specific expectations as far as their use is concerned, is called a register, register of discourse, or register of communication. According to the sociolinguistic theory of enregisterment, registers are interpretive or ideological concepts rather than ontological facts; that is, there is often not much empirical evidence that these forms of communication are really used in the exact way, as distinctively, or as coherently as the register allocation would suggest, but nevertheless there is a shared belief throughout the relevant community that this is the case. Since such shared beliefs do have an impact on how people categorize the world they find themselves in, however, registers are not dismissed as “false beliefs” about language, but are rather seen as a core ingredient of the social use of language, particularly in relation to processes of social positioning, and of alienation and social discrimination, as well as the construction of social identities. Furthermore, many scholars have pointed out that enregisterment is not merely a “folk-linguistic” phenomenon (as opposed to allegedly “nonideological” forms of inquiry practiced by linguistic experts), since enregisterment processes are often propelled by linguistic scholars, and registers (such as “ethnolects” or “netspeak”) sometimes even derive from academic discourse. Since the concept has gained great prominence in contemporary sociolinguistics, registers and enregisterment have been widely researched in Germanic languages, most notably English but also other Germanic languages such as German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, and Norwegian. Enregisterment processes have been identified with regard to multiple historical and contemporary dimensions with which registers are being linked, among them nation states (language standardization and pluricentric standard variation), regions (regional and urban varieties), gender (e.g., “female speech,” “queer slang”), class (e.g., received pronunciation), age (e.g., “youth slang”), media (e.g., “netspeak”), profession (e.g., “officialese”), and ethnicity (e.g., “ethnolects”).

Article

History of the Occitan and Gascon Lexicon  

Hélène Carles and Martin Glessgen

The process of differentiation of the Occitan and the Gascon lexicon began under the Roman Empire, increasing from the 8th century onward, and was further accentuated during the course of the second millennium. The dialects but also the written varieties of Medieval Occitan and Gascon were highly developed and remained pluricentric. The mechanisms of lexical innovation engendered by the development of the various textual traditions, as well as by intertextuality, caused the vocabulary to develop considerably between the 12th and the 15th centuries. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, the process of elaboration of written culture began to grind to a halt, although the two languages continued to be spoken throughout the territory. The traditional vocabulary continued to diversify, parallel to the development of regional literature and the constitution of significant lexical inventories. Thus, at the start of the contemporary period, the dialectal varieties of Occitan and Gascon had reached a pinnacle of diversification, but use of the spoken variety diminished throughout the 20th century, despite the powerful revival movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. Future research should intensify its efforts in the field of lexicological analysis with the object of emphasizing the richness of dialectal varieties and the expressivity of contemporary literature.

Article

The AP-Domain in Germanic  

Alexandra Rehn, Alexander Pfaff, and Svetlana Petrova

This article provides a comparative description of the properties of the adjectival domain in Germanic, focusing on differences between continental West Germanic (German, Dutch) and North Germanic (Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish). On the one hand, it addresses the morpho-syntactic phenomenon of dual inflection as one of the major characteristics unifying adjectives in Germanic but distinguishing them from adjectives in other languages. The basic questions following from this property are the rise of dual inflection in Germanic and the principles underlying the distribution of the inflectional paradigms across the individual languages. On the other hand, this article addresses questions regarding the structural representation of the adjectival domain in Germanic. They affect not only the linear order in the Determiner Phrase (DP), that is, the positional realization of modifying adjectives relative to the head noun, but also their interpretation in terms of the underlying structure. The article provides an overview of various accounts on the structural representation of the adjectival domain in Germanic, starting with observations according to which adjectives adjoin to the head noun that they modify and ending with more recent approaches according to which adjectives display their own projections in the more articulated structure of the DP.