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LINGUIST List 21.5028

Sun Dec 12 2010

Calls: Historical Linguistics/Japan

Editor for this issue: Amy Brunett <brunettlinguistlist.org>

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        1.     Ioanna Sitaridou , Drift and Long-Term Morphosyntactic Change

Message 1: Drift and Long-Term Morphosyntactic Change
Date: 11-Dec-2010
From: Ioanna Sitaridou <is269cam.ac.uk>
Subject: Drift and Long-Term Morphosyntactic Change
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Full Title: Drift and Long-Term Morphosyntactic Change

Date: 25-Jul-2011 - 30-Jul-2011
Location: Osaka, Japan
Contact Person: Ioanna Sitaridou
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site: http://www.ichl2011.com/

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Jul-2011

Meeting Description:

Workshop on Drift and Long-Term Morphosyntactic Change, to be held at the ICHL 2011(Osaka, Japan)

Frequently a language undergoes a set of changes that seem to be related to one another. These may occur together quickly, but, frequently, such changes span hundreds of years. The phenomenon was identified as 'drift' as long ago as 1921 by Edward Sapir, who famously noted that 'language moves down time in a current of its own making. It has drift.' (Sapir 1949 [1921]) The notion of drift is paradoxical since it seems to fly in the face of elementary facts: native speakers have no inbuilt knowledge of the history of their language, and cannot possibly know how to change their language in the direction 'determined' by history.

Explanations for drift, or the more neutral concepts of 'long-term change' or 'long-term development', have a long history in typological approaches focused on limiting the possible pathways between typologically consistent language states (Hawkins 1979, 1990). There has been a resurgence of interest also among formally oriented linguists, with the idea of 'cascading parametric change', embedded within a theory of markedness (Biberauer and Roberts 2008). Other factors that have been suggested as causes of long-term change include markedness, economy and the need to reestablish a synchronically motivated stable system (cf. also markedness, Andersen 1990).

Conveners: Ioanna Sitaridou & David Willis (University of Cambridge)

Call for Papers:

We particularly welcome contributions that address the following issues:

(a) Is drift different from other processes of change, such as analogy, grammaticalisation and/or parametric change? If yes, how?
(b) Is drift the system's reaction to asymmetry?
(c) Can there be short-term drift? Or should drift be viewed as the opposite of 'catastrophic' (parametric) change?
(d) Is the notion of drift compatible only with a deterministic approach to language change?
(e) Is drift unidirectional?
(f) How can drift be reconciled with random variability? Can random factors cause drift?

Papers that compare or reconcile different approaches are particularly welcome.


Andersen, Henning. 1990. The structure of drift. In Historical linguistics 1987: Papers from the 8th International Conference on Historical Linguistics, edited by Henning Andersen and Konrad Koerner. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Biberauer, Theresa and Ian Roberts. 2008. Cascading parameter change: Internally-driven change in Middle and Early Modern English. In Grammatical change and linguistic theory: The Rosendal papers, edited by Thórhallur Eythórsson, 79--113. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hawkins, John A. 1979. Implicational universals as predictors of word order change. Language 55: 618-48.
Hawkins, John A. 1990. A parsing theory of word order universals. Linguistic Inquiry 21: 223-61.
Sapir, Edward. 1949 [1921]. Language: An introduction to the study of speech. London: Harvest.

Submission of abstracts:

Abstracts are hereby invited for the workshop on Drift and Long-Term Morphosyntactic Change, to be held at the ICHL 2011 (Osaka, Japan). They should be submitted directly to the ICHL website (http://www.ichl2011.com/call_for_papers.html) no later than January 15, 2011. Please mention the workshop title in the appropriate box on the abstract submission form, and your abstract will be forwarded to us. Please restrict your abstract to no more than 300 words, including references.

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