Center for the Study of Language and Society

Experimenting on the past: Why don’t grammaticalization pathways always recur

Mittwoch, 28.10.2020, 16:15 Uhr

Malte Rosemeyer

PD Dr. Malte Rosemeyer is assistant professor at the Department of Romance Philology, University of Freiburg (D), and interim professor for Romance Linguistics at the University of Regensburg. His research interests include language variation and change, corpus lingusitics and digital humanities, social intereaction, pragmatics and experimental approaches.

Veranstaltende: Center for the Study of Language and Society
Redner, Rednerin: PD Dr. Malte Rosemeyer (Universität Freiburg)
Datum: 28.10.2020
Uhrzeit: 16:15 - 17:45 Uhr
Ort: Online
via Zoom
3012 Bern
Merkmale: Öffentlich

Many grammaticalization pathways recur across languages. A prominent explanation for this is that the properties of lexical items determine their developmental pathways. However, it is unclear why these pathways do not always occur. In this talk, we ask why English did not undergo a cross-linguistically common grammaticalization pathway, FINISH > ANTERIOR. We operationalize this question by testing a theory proposed on results regarding a language that did undergo this change, Spanish, on corpus and experimental data. While English FINISH constructions are associated with some of the distributional properties of Early Spanish FINISH, speakers do not show evidence of conventionally associating FINISH constructions with a particular type of inference crucial for the grammaticalization of the Spanish anterior. We propose that the non-conventionality of this inference blocks the grammaticalization of FINISH constructions, demonstrating that some of the black box of language change currently attributed to chance can be explored empirically.

(This is a CSLS guest lecture and part of the Forum SLS. MA and PhD students receive 0.25 ECTS for attending the talk.)