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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.
In: Reconstructing Syntax

Abstract

This article focuses on the methodology for syntactic reconstruction in languages without a written record from the past. The idea is to follow the principles of the Comparative Method, the scientific procedure to compare and reconstruct sounds and lexical items in various proto-languages. The method originally developed out of the comparison and reconstruction of classic languages in Indo-European languages, but has been successfully applied to Austronesian languages, where information about old forms of languages is hardly available from literature. The claim in this article is that there are ways to conduct syntactic reconstruction with languages without a written record. It is shown that, by using correct comparanda and by combining structural analyses with results of sound and lexical reconstruction, clause structures of such languages can be compared and reconstructed, and the developmental paths from one system to another can be traced.

In: Reconstructing Syntax

Abstract

The general consensus in the historical linguistics community for the last half a century or so has been that syntactic reconstruction is a bootless and unsuccessful venture. However, this view has slowly but steadily been changing among historical linguists, typologists, and anthropological linguists alike. More and more syntactic reconstructions are being published by respectable and virtuous publication venues. The debate on the viability of syntactic reconstruction, however, continues, and issues like i) lack of cognates, ii) lack of arbitrariness in syntax, iii) lack of directionality in syntactic change, iv) lack of continuous transmission from one generation to the next, and v) lack of form–meaning correspondences have, drop by drop, been argued not to be problematic for syntactic reconstruction. The present volume contributes to two of these issues in detail; first the issue of reliably identifying cognates in syntax and second, the issue of directionality in syntactic change. A systematic program is suggested for identifying cognates in syntax, which by definition is a different enterprise from identifying cognates in phonology or morphology. Examples are given from several different language families: Indo-European, Semitic, Austronesian, Jê, Cariban, and Chibchan. Regarding the issue of directionality for syntactic reconstruction, most of the studies in this volume also demonstrate how local directionality may be identified with the aid of different types of morphosyntactic flags, particularly showcased with examples from Chibchan, Semitic, and various Indo-European languages.

In: Reconstructing Syntax
In: Reconstructing Syntax
Author: Silvia Luraghi

Abstract

Two external possessor constructions occur in ancient Indo-European languages: the dative external possessor construction, and the double case construction. They both indicate adnominal possession by means of syntactically independent NPs, and basically refer to inalienable possession. In this article, I analyze the two constructions, describe their meaning and their syntactic properties, and review the comparative evidence for each of them. Neither construction is uniformly attested throughout the Indo-European language family. In addition, the dative external possessor construction seems to be quite unstable over time. Based on the data presented, I conclude that the former can be reconstructed as an original Proto-Indo-European construction, while the latter must be regarded as a language specific construction, with different properties in the languages in which it occurs.

In: Reconstructing Syntax

Abstract

As a reaction to three different proposals on how to reconstruct basic word order for Proto-Indo-European, Watkins and his contemporaries in the 1970s succeeded in aborting any attempt at reconstructing syntax for a long time to come. As a consequence, syntactic reconstruction has generally been abandoned, regarded as a doomed enterprise by historical linguists for several different reasons, one of which is the alleged difficulty in identifying cognates in syntax. Later, Watkins (1995) proposed a research program aimed at reconstructing larger units of grammar, including syntactic structures, by means of identifying morphological flags that are parts of larger syntactic entities. As a response to this, we show how cognate argument structure constructions may be identified, through a) cognate lexical verbs, b) cognate case frames, c) cognate predicate structure and d) cognate case morphology. We then propose to advance Watkins’ program, by identifying cognate argument structure constructions with the aid of non-cognate, but synonymous, lexical predicates. As a consequence, it will not only be possible to identify cognate argument structure constructions across a deeper time span, it will also be possible to carry out semantic reconstruction on the basis of lexical-semantic verb classes.

In: Reconstructing Syntax
Author: Na’ama Pat-El

Abstract

The Semitic languages share the same pattern for adverbial subordination, but they do not share cognate subordinators. Following widely accepted approaches to syntactic reconstruction, such as Harris & Campbell (1995), it is possible to reconstruct a proto construction for this family, even without cognate material. However, in this article I argue that adverbial subordination cannot be reconstructed to the proto language and the shared structure is a case of parallel development which was motivated by influence from a type of relative clause. I suggest that parallel development was triggered by the presence of a shared structural feature, which created similar pressures in different nodes and allowed for identical lines of development to take place, but nevertheless yielded distinct outcomes. The development of adverbial subordinators as outlined here shows that despite structural similarities in adverbial subordination among the Semitic languages, it is unlikely that this pattern is reconstructable to the proto language.

In: Reconstructing Syntax
In: Reconstructing Syntax

Abstract

Traditional approaches to the reconstruction of Proto-Indo-European nominal morphosyntax have operated by first reconstructing the set of morphological cases for every declensional type, and then attempting to establish the meaning of the different cases, regardless of the specific ending that was used for each declensional type. However, more insight can be gained into the reconstruction of the nominal syntax of proto-languages by applying the concepts and methodologies developed in recent years in functional-typological approaches to language study. Under this approach, the aim of syntactic reconstruction in the nominal domain lies not in determining the meaning of a given case as a whole but rather in elucidating the semantic role(s) that a specific formative could be used for and, to the extent that this is possible, how those semantic roles relate to each other in historical terms. In this article we survey the semantic roles related to *-bhi-endings in the old Indo-European languages. In the traditional reconstruction, *-bhi has been considered the suffix expressing the Instrumental plural of the athematic declension. However, in the various branches of the family in which it is attested, *-bhi-endings express a broad array of semantic roles. When charted on a diachronic semantic map of Instrument and related semantic roles, the *-bhi-endings appear to cover neighbouring areas, and it becomes clear that they have followed well-known paths of semantic change. If we add the information about *-bhi in the pronominal declension and its etymology, a neat grammaticalisation process is revealed. This results in a ‘dynamic’ reconstruction of the morphosyntax of the proto-language, which is more in accord with what we know about the actual processes of semantic change in grammatical markers and paradigmatisation of markers more generally.

In: Reconstructing Syntax

Abstract

In this article, we take the strong position that syntactic constructions can be reconstructed, first by identifying constructional cognates, then by identifying evidence for the directionality of constructional change that best explains the modern distribution of the cognate constructions from the hypothesized source construction. Further, we argue that the grammatical properties of the resultant constructions are often best explained by a combination of their etymological source(s) and the evolutionary pathways by which they arise. We illustrate these larger theoretical claims by reconstructing a typologically unusual set of constructions in the Jê and Cariban families, which present a rare ergative alignment pattern we call nominative-absolutive. Prior to 2010 this alignment pattern, which combines nominative free pronouns and absolutive verbal indexation, was held to be impossible, and it remains attested in very few language families. In the Jê and Cariban languages, this alignment type always occurs as part of ergative splits conditioned by TAM, which are again counter to previously claimed universals in that they are conditioned by future tense, imperfective aspects, and agent-oriented modalities. We reconstruct the sources of these nominative-absolutive constructions and then argue that the unusual formal properties and functional distributions of the nominative-absolutive clause types are both best understood as combinations of typologically unusual source constructions that follow well-established diachronic pathways of tense-aspect-mood renewal.

In: Reconstructing Syntax

Abstract

The aim of this article is to examine the directionality of change in Voice in relation to Tense/Aspect, foremost based on evidence from Greek as well as additional evidence from Early Vedic. Starting with the hypothesis that in (standard) Proto-Indo-European a number of innovations resulted in the introduction of some elements of the Perfect-Stative inflection into the Present (cf. Kulikov & Lavidas 2013), we study the directionality of change in Voice. We show that the original relationship between Tense/Aspect and Voice determines the directionality of change in Voice in Greek. Basing our study on the analysis of Vedic active Perfects that are intransitive and belong with middle Presents, we claim that this initial relationship between Voice and Tense/Aspect can be reconstructed on the basis of some tendencies and changes found in several Indo-European dialects, in particular in Greek forms. We also argue that the relationship between Tense/Aspect and Voice in the diachrony of Greek depends on the new features acquired by the voice morphology as well as on the development of the categories Tense and Aspect.

In: Reconstructing Syntax
Author: Anthony Jukes
Volume Editor: Paul James Sidwell
The book is a grammar of the Makasar language, spoken by about 2 million people in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Makasarese is a head–marking language which marks arguments on the predicate with a system of pronominal clitics, following an ergative/absolutive pattern. Full noun phrases are relatively free in order, while pre-predicate focus position which is widely used. The phonology is notable for the large number of geminate and pre–glottalised consonant sequences, while the morphology is characterised by highly productive affixation and pervasive encliticisation of pronominal and aspectual elements. The work draws heavily on literary sources reaching back more than three centuries; this tradition includes two Indic based scripts, a system based on Arabic, and various Romanised conventions.
Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies: The ‘Head’ edited by Iwona Kraska-Szlenk adds to linguistic studies on embodied cognition and conceptualization while focusing on one body part term from a comparative perspective. The ‘head’ is investigated as a source domain for extending multiple concepts in various target domains accessed via metaphor or metonymy. The contributions in the volume provide comparative and case studies based on analyses of the first-hand data from languages representing all continents and diversified linguistic groups, including endangered languages of Africa, Australia and Americas. The book offers new reflections on the relationship between embodiment, cultural situatedness and universal tendencies of semantic change. The findings contribute to general research on metaphor, metonymy, and polysemy within a paradigm of cognitive linguistics.
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies

Abstract

Within the issue of embodiment (Brenzinger and Kraska-Szlenk 2014, Yu 2009, Maalej and Yu 2011, Sharifian et. al. 2008) this paper investigates how THINKING is conceptualised in Hungarian in relation to HEAD, i.e., as represented in the expressions of fej ‘head’ in the Hungarian National Corpus. It is evidenced that, in accordance with the Western tradition, THE HEAD IS THE SEAT OF INTELLECT/THINKING is a significant conceptualization in Hungarian. Within corpus analysis, two main themes are outlined: metaphorical expressions of THOUGHT and those of the activity of THINKING. It is highlighted that there are numerous different types of conceptualizations in Hungarian to refer to thought, each pointing out some distinctive aspect of thought and thinking. It is evidenced that thought can be imagined as either inanimate or animate objects, and in most conceptualizations THE HEAD-AS-CONTAINER metaphor has an overwhelming influence. Within THOUGHTS AS INANIMATE ENTITIES, the basic metaphors are: THOUGHTS AS ENTITIES IN A DRUG STORE, THOUGHTS AS THREADS, THOUGHTS AS MOVING ENTITIES and THOUGHTS AS NOISE/MUSIC, while in THOUGHTS AS ANIMATE ENTITIES are conceived as HUMANS, ANIMALS or PLANTS. It has been shown that thoughts, ideas, data and memories are imagined as entities that exist (or live) in the head.

The second part of the paper focuses on the metaphors of THINKING. Each conceptualizations (THINKING AS CRACKING ONE’S HEAD, THINKING AS A WORKING MACHINE, THINKING AS MARKING A WOODEN BOARD) reflect on different aspects of the intellect. The conceptualizations unfolded can be regarded as cultural conceptualizations (Sharifian 2011, 2017) because they are specific to the cognition of Hungarian people.

In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
Author: Yongxian Luo

Abstract

This paper offers an analysis of the Chinese body-part terms for ‘head’ and its related parts ‘brain’ and “neck” from a conceptual and cognitive perspective. It examines their semantic and morphological functions through the metonymic and metaphorical extensions which display both universal and language-specific tendencies derived from human experiences characteristic of this particular part of the body. Discussions focus on the historical development of these terms and how they manifest themselves in the semantic and cognitive template that is framed by the sensorimotor in the contour of the body. Comparison is made to several languages in the surrounding regions to provide cross-linguistic perspective in this semantic domain. The grammaticalization path of these body part terms is explored, as are the cognitive bases of their conceptual mapping and patterns of cognitive transfer. The study aims to contribute to a better understanding of how potentially universal features and cultural factors interact with each other in language and cognition.

In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies

Abstract

Previous studies on body-part metaphors in Turkish investigate their cultural relevance, etymology, or semantic properties (cf. Baş 2015). Aksan (2011) focusing particularly on ‘head’, analyses metaphors that are either compounds or are sentential. The present chapter is the first on phrasal constructions that contain body parts in Turkish, in particular, ‘head’. Turkish has five terms for ‘head’, baş, kafa, kelle, ser, and tepe, all of which can form idiomatic expressions. Based on a survey of 350 phrasal idioms, we observe that especially idioms formed with the first two, baş and kafa are i) very productive, and ii) display a number of correlated asymmetries. These asymmetries pertain to the notions of internal vs. external structures, living entities vs. objects and mechanisms, body/self/emotion vs. mind, neutral vs. marked contexts, and to various other categories. Emotion vs. thought as one of these dichotomies is uniquely captured by two different terms for the same body part, ‘head’, whereas this very same dichotomy is, in other languages, expressed through different body parts (heart vs. head, cf. Maalej & Yu 2011).

In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies

Abstract

This chapter focuses on cross-linguistic patterning of metonymies and metonymic-metaphoric chains involved in mapping from the body part ‘head’ onto mental and social activity domains which particularly favor such conceptualizations due to high expressiveness of figurative “embodied” language. It will be demonstrated that certain metonymies are cross-linguistically very common, e.g. HEAD FOR PERSON, HEAD FOR RULER/IMPORTANT PERSON, HEAD FOR REASON/INTELLIGENCE, while others are encountered only in specific cultural settings, e. g. HEAD FOR A KIN, HEAD FOR LANGUAGE. In addition, many conceptualizations are based on a common general schema which is modified in a culture-specific way. In general terms, the findings contribute to research on metonymy and shed light on the interplay of embodiment, cognitive universals and specific cultural models.

In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies
Author: Abinet Sime

Abstract

Amharic (a Semitic language spoken in Ethiopia) has two words for ‘head’: ras and qəl. Through Intra-field metonymic transfer, ras has come to refer to the HAIR and BRAIN of humans. It also refers to a PILLOW (or headrest) through Inter-field metonymic transfer. Compound words for headteacher, headwaters, headlines, and head of state are formed with ras as a first member. In əndä-ras-e (like-self-my) ‘regent’ ras is a second member. Ras on its own (as the highest military and civil rank below the crown) was used to refer to the head of an army. This word has also found its way into the English language through Rastafarianism. In some Amharic idioms and proverbs that involve ras, the HEAD is conceived as a servant who thinks rationally and leads carefully. The rest of the BODY (below the HEAD), in turn, is considered as a master (and owner) who supports and controls the HEAD. Moreover, ras has grammaticalized into intensive genitive, intensive reflexive, reflexive, reciprocal, independent and demonstrative pronouns. First through an Inter-field metaphoric transfer (GOURD > SKULL) and then through an Intra-field metonymic transfer (SKULL > HEAD), qəl has come to refer to an individual person (HEAD > PERSON). Moreover, qəl has further grammaticalized into intensive reflexive, concessive, adversative and focus markers.

In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies

Abstract

The study examines the grammaticalization of the noun ‘head’ in four Chadic languages: Pero (West Chadic), Mina, Wandala, (Central Chadic) and Lele (East Chadic). The study examines the grammaticalization of the following functions: spatial relation ‘on’; coreferentiality; and the point of view of the affected subject, whose manifestations are sometimes referred to as ‘middle’. The study addresses the question of motivation for grammaticalization, and in particular the fundamental question of why some functions are grammaticalized in some languages but not in others. The study rejects general cognitive processes and creativity as motivations for cross-linguistic differences in grammaticalization. The study also shows that cultural characteristics cannot explain differences in grammaticalization of the point of view of affected subject, as such differences are found among speakers who share the same culture and live in the same geographical area. Instead, the study demonstrates that language-internal factors are the motivation for the grammaticalization of the point of view of the affected subject: If the point of view of the affected subject is the inherent characteristic of some verbs in a language, the language does not grammaticalize additional means of marking this function.

In: Embodiment in Cross-Linguistic Studies