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Morphological and Syntactic Variation and Change in Romanian  

Ion Giurgea

The geographical varieties of Romanian spoken in Romania, the Republic of Moldova, and adjacent regions are largely mutually intelligible. More important are the differences between these varieties (known as “Dacoromanian”) and the South-Danubian varieties of Aromanian, Meglenoromanian, and Istroromanian, which have been separated from (Daco-)Romanian for a very long time, but qualify as dialects of Romanian from a historical and comparative Romance perspective. Standard Romanian is based on the southern dialect of Dacoromanian, in particular the variety of Muntenia, but also includes features taken from other dialects (e.g., the 3pl imperfect -au, the absence of “iotacism” in verb forms—văd instead of the etymological vă(d)z ‘see.1sg’ < Lat. *uidi̯o < uideō, with the regular sound change -di̯->-dz->-z-). A unified standard language was established around the middle of the 19th century. Some of the differences between the high and the colloquial register of standard Romanian are due to innovations characterizing southern varieties: the demonstrative system (high register acest(a), acel(a) versus colloquial ăsta, ăla), the future (high register voi [inflected] + infinitive versus colloquial o [uninflected] + subjunctive), the use of the infinitive (more restricted in the colloquial register than in the high register), and the presumptive mood (mostly colloquial, representing a modal epistemic specialization of a future form oi + infinitive, which is itself an innovation with respect to voi + infinitive). Some of the features by which substandard varieties differ from the standard language represent innovations: the replacement of the inflectional dative and genitive by prepositional constructions, the change of the relative pronoun care into a complementizer, and the loss of the number contrast in the 3rd person of verbs (the latter representing a recent development, mostly found in the southern varieties, but also in parts of Crişana and Transylvania). The loss of agreement with the possessee on the genitival article al is an innovation that first appeared in the northern dialect and subsequently gained ground across substandard varieties. Northern varieties, especially in peripheral areas (Crişana, Maramureş, northern Moldova), preserve a number of archaic features that disappeared from the standard language, for example, the productivity of verb-clitic word orders (with both auxiliary and pronominal clitics), the use of al-Genitive-N word orders, the conditional periphrases vream + infinitive and reaş + infinitive (the latter in Banat), and, as a widespread phenomenon, the 3sg=3pl homonymy in the perfect auxiliary (in the form o < au). Compared to the colloquial standard language, northern varieties preserve the infinitive better. An innovative feature characteristic of northern varieties is the use of periphrastic forms for the imperfect and pluperfect. As conservative features found in some nonstandard southern varieties, we may cite the use of the synthetic perfect (which in the standard language is restricted to the written register) and the stress on the oblique determiner/pronominal endings (ăstúia vs. ắstuia).

Article

Luxembourgish  

Peter Gilles

This article provides an overview of the structure of the Luxembourgish language, the national language of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, which has developed from a Moselle Franconian dialect to an Ausbau language in the course of the 20th century. In the early 21st century, Luxembourgish serves several functions, mainly as a multifunctional spoken variety but also as a written language, which has acquired a medium level of language standardization. Because of the embedding into a complex multilingual situation with German and French, Luxembourgish is characterized by a high degree of language contact. As a Germanic language, Luxembourgish has developed its distinct grammatical features. In this article, the main aspects of phonetics and phonology (vowels, consonants, prosody, word stress), morphology (inflection of nouns, adjectives, articles and pronouns, partitive structures, prepositions, verbal system), and syntactic characteristics (complementizer agreement, word order in verbal clusters) are discussed. The lexicon is influenced to a certain degree by loanwords from French. Regarding language variation and change, recent surveys show that Luxembourgish is undergoing major changes affecting phonetics and phonology (reduction of regional pronunciations), the grammatical system (plural of nouns), and, especially, the lexical level (decrease of loans from French, increase of loans from German).

Article

Morphological and Syntactic Variation and Change in European Spanish  

María José Serrano

Since the 1990s, there have been major developments in the variationist approach to morphological and syntactic variation and change in European Spanish. This research area has garnered increasing interest because of the various morphosyntactic phenomena available for study. A significant amount of work on morphological and syntactic variation and change has been devoted to analyzing the linguistic differences among variants and the social and stylistic communicative settings in which they are used. The main phenomena studied in European Spanish are classified in three main groups: variation of personal pronouns, variation of verbal forms, and variation of syntactic constructions. Morphological and syntactic variants are linguistic choices constructed in a meaningful way that reveal speakers’ perceptions of real-world events and are projected stylistically onto the domain of discourse and interaction. Effective engagement with these choices requires the adoption of a broad, multifaceted notion of meaning to overcome earlier methodological controversies about studying variation at the morphological and syntactic levels because of the meaning that variants convey. In recent years, variation theory has benefited greatly from research in cognitive linguistics, a field whose basic tenet is that grammatical structures reflect the human perception of events. In fact, the most modern theoretical approach to morphosyntactic variation is based on the study of the cognitive meanings underlying variants, which is at the core of the empirical concerns of cognitive sociolinguistics. From a cognitive viewpoint, language is not a separate ability within the realm of human cognition; rather, it is developed along with all other cognitive skills. Studies of morphosyntactic variation address the social contexts in which variation takes place to adequately explain linguistic variation phenomena. The analysis of the communicative and cognitive backgrounds of morphological and syntactic variation challenges the traditional, structural, and behavioral concepts of linguistic variability and change. Thus, the study of these changes reflects the diversity and evolution of ways of thinking.