During several decades, syntactic reconstruction has been more or less regarded as a bootless and an unsuccessful venture, not least due to the heavy criticism in the 1970s from scholars like Watkins, Jeffers, Lightfoot, etc. This fallacious view culminated in Lightfoot’s (2002: 625) conclusion: “[i]f somebody thinks that they can reconstruct grammars more successfully and in more widespread fashion, let them tell us their methods and show us their results. Then we’ll eat the pudding.” This volume provides methods for the identification of i) cognates in syntax, and ii) the directionality of syntactic change, showcasing the results in the introduction and eight articles. These examples are offered as both tastier and also more nourishing than the pudding Lightfoot had in mind when discarding the viability of reconstructing syntax.
Verbal Aspect in Old Church Slavonic Jaap Kamphuis demonstrates that the aspect system of Old Church Slavonic can best be described if one divides the verbs into three main categories: perfective, imperfective and anaspectual. This differs from the traditional division into perfective and imperfective verbs only. To support the categorization, the study contains a corpus-based quantitative and qualitative analysis of the available Old Church Slavonic data. This analysis contributes to a better understanding of the development of aspect in Slavic. Kamphuis shows that aspect in Old Church Slavonic functions more like verbal aspect in the Western groups of Slavic languages (e.g. Czech) than like that in the Eastern group (e.g. Russian).
Dispersals and diversification offers linguistic and archaeological perspectives on the disintegration of Proto-Indo-European, the ancestor of the Indo-European language family.
Two chapters discuss the early phases of the disintegration of Proto-Indo-European from an archaeological perspective, integrating and interpreting the new evidence from ancient DNA. Six chapters analyse the intricate relationship between the Anatolian branch of Indo-European, probably the first one to separate, and the remaining branches. Three chapters are concerned with the most important unsolved problems of Indo-European subgrouping, namely the status of the postulated Italo-Celtic and Graeco-Armenian subgroups. Two chapters discuss methodological problems with linguistic subgrouping and with the attempt to correlate linguistics and archaeology.
Contributors are David W. Anthony, Rasmus Bjørn, José L. García Ramón, Riccardo Ginevra, Adam Hyllested, James A. Johnson, Kristian Kristiansen, H. Craig Melchert, Matthew Scarborough, Peter Schrijver, Matilde Serangeli, Zsolt Simon, Rasmus Thorsø, Michael Weiss.
Every five years, on the occasion of the International Congress of Slavists, a volume appears that presents a comprehensive overview of current Slavic linguistic research in the Netherlands. Like its predecessors, the present collection covers a variety of topics: Bulgarian and Polish aspectology (Barentsen, Genis), Slavic historical linguistics (Kortlandt, Vermeer), pragmatics of tense usage in Old Russian (Dekker), dialect description (Houtzagers), L2 acquisition (Tribushinina & Mak), Russian foreigners’ speech imitation (Peeters & Arkema), corpus-based semantics (Fortuin & Davids) and theoretical work on negation (Keijsper, Van Helden). As can be seen from this list, the majority of the contributions in this peer-reviewed volume displays the data-oriented tradition of Dutch Slavic linguistics, but studies of a more theoretical nature are also represented.
Grammaticalising the Perfect and Explanations of Language Change: Have- and Be-Perfects in the History and Structure of English and Bulgarian, Bozhil Hristov investigates key aspects of the verbal systems of two distantly related Indo-European languages, highlighting similarities as well as crucial differences between them and seeking a unified approach.
The book reassesses some long-held notions and functionalist assumptions and shines the spotlight on certain areas that have received less attention, such as the role of ambiguity in actual usage. The detailed analysis of rich, contextualised material from a selection of texts dovetails with large-scale corpus studies, complementing their findings and enhancing our understanding of the phenomena. This monograph thus presents a happy marriage of traditional philological techniques and recent advances in theoretical linguistics and corpus work.
The Precursors of Proto-Indo-European some of the world’s leading experts in historical linguistics shed new light on two hypotheses about the prehistory of the Indo-European language family, the so-called Indo-Anatolian and Indo-Uralic hypotheses. The Indo-Anatolian hypothesis states that the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European family should be viewed as a sister language of ‘classical’ Proto-Indo-European, the ancestor of all the other, non-Anatolian branches. The common ancestor of all Indo-European languages, including Anatolian, can then be called Proto-Indo-Anatolian. The Indo-Uralic hypothesis states that the closest genetic relative of Indo-European is the Uralic language family, and that both derive from a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-Uralic. The book unravels the history of these hypotheses and scrutinizes the evidence for and against them.
Contributors are Stefan H. Bauhaus, Rasmus G. Bjørn, Dag Haug, Petri Kallio, Simona Klemenčič, Alwin Kloekhorst, Frederik Kortlandt, Guus Kroonen, Martin J. Kümmel, Milan Lopuhaä-Zwakenberg, Alexander Lubotsky, Rosemarie Lühr, Michaël Peyrot, Tijmen Pronk, Andrei Sideltsev, Michiel de Vaan, Mikhail Zhivlov.
Language and Chronology, Toner and Han apply innovative Machine Learning techniques to the problem of the dating of literary texts. Many ancient and medieval literatures lack reliable chronologies which could aid scholars in locating texts in their historical context. The new machine-learning method presented here uses chronological information gleaned from annalistic records to date a wide range of texts. The method is also applied to multi-layered texts to aid the identification of different chronological strata within single copies.
While the algorithm is here applied to medieval Irish material of the period c.700-c.1700, it can be extended to written texts in any language or alphabet. The authors’ approach presents a step change in Digital Humanities, moving us beyond simple querying of electronic texts towards the production of a sophisticated tool for literary and historical studies.
Towards a Theory of Denominals, Adina Camelia Bleotu takes a comparative look at denominal verbs in English and Romanian from various theoretical frameworks such as lexical decomposition, distributed morphology, nanosyntax and spanning. The book proposes a novel spanning analysis, arguing for its explanatory superiority to incorporation/conflation or nanosyntax in accounting for the formation and behaviour of denominals. It provides useful empirical insights, drawing from rich data from English discussed widely in the relevant literature, but also presenting novel data from Romanian not explored in detail before. Many interesting theoretical issues are also discussed, such as the (lack of) correlation between the (un)boundedness of the nominal root and the (a)telicity of the resulting verb, the verb/ satellite-framed distinction and others.
How did ‘Vedic man’ think about the destiny of man after death and related ethical issues? That heaven was the abode of the gods was undisputed, but was it also accessible to man in his pursuit of immortality? Was there a realm of the deceased or a hell? What terms were used to indicate these ‘yonder worlds’? What is their location in the cosmos and which cosmographic classifications are at the root of these concepts? The articles by Henk Bodewitz collected in this volume, published over a period of 45 years, between 1969 and 2013, deal with these issues on the basis of a systematic philological study of early Vedic texts, from the Ṛgveda to various Brāhmaṇas, Āraṇykas and Upaniṣads.
Aligning Grammars: Basque and Romance is a collection of articles describing and analyzing several of the most important morphosyntactic features for which the formal comparison between Basque and its surrounding Romance languages is relevant, such as word order, inflection, case, argument structure and causatives. In the context of a language virtually all of whose speakers are bilingual in either Spanish or French, the theoretically informed in-depth description offered in this volume focuses on the fine grain of linguistic structures from languages typologically quite apart but coexisting and probably interacting in the minds of speakers. It therefore aims at shedding some light on the types of interactions between different systems and on the systems themselves.