DGfS 2016 | 24.-26.2.2016

38. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft

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AG 11: Indefinites between Theory and Language Change

Chiara Gianollo, Universität zu Köln, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Köln, 0221 470-5924, Chiara.Gianollo@uni-koeln.de

Klaus von Heusinger, Universität zu Köln, Albertus-Magnus-Platz, 50923 Köln, 0221 470-4884, Klaus.vonHeusinger@uni-koeln.de

Svetlana Petrova, Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Gaußstr. 20, 42119 Wuppertal, 0202 439-3141, petrova@uni-wuppertal.de


Language users employ indefinites, pronouns (someone, anything, whatever) and different types of noun phrases (a book, a certain student, some time, any teacher) to encode (non-)referentiality, but also other crucial properties, such as degree of identifiability, speaker-hearer knowledge status, discourse saliency. Recent typological and theoretical studies have uncovered a wealth of variation in this domain, on various grammatical levels (morpho-syntax, semantics, pragmatics). Also research on the history of indefinite articles and some classes of indefinite pronouns in individual languages has advanced substantially. The emerging picture needs now to be complemented by a comparative evaluation of the observed diachronic patterns. We face scenarios that challenge well-known models of development and therefore need a broader cross-linguistic perspective on evolutionary tendencies, also encompassing non-Indo-European languages. A more fine-grained study of the diachronic clines involving indefinites may shed light on some of their intriguing synchronic properties (morpho-syntactic complexity, multifunctionality, context dependence), and on the way systems of indefinites are structured (complementarity, blocking). The investigation further promises to disclose more general conclusions on the systematic nature of change affecting functional elements of the lexicon. We therefore invite contributions from linguists of various persuasions, reconciling indepth theoretical analysis with comparative and diachronic evidence, and seeking answers to the following questions:

(a) Which properties account for the systematicity in diachronic processes involving indefinites? To what extent are different sub-classes (specific, epistemic, free-choice, polarity-sensitive indefinites) affected by cyclical developments? How can theories account for the fact that such developments may be multidirectional?

(b) In the system of indefinite markers, the indefinite article stands out in many respects (source of grammaticalization, interaction with the definite article and with number marking). How can we reconcile the cyclical model traditionally proposed for its evolution with the evidence provided by many historical varieties, in which various functions (referential, generic, predicative, etc.) already co-exist at an early grammaticalization stage?

(c) Which ingredients are needed to provide satisfactory theoretical models of the crosslinguistic micro-variability attested by indefinites, and of the system synchronically and diachronically organizing the observed functions?


Mittwoch, 24. Februar 2016
14:00 – 15:00

Maria Aloni:

Indefinites as fossils

15:00 - 16:00Urtzi Etxeberria & Anastasia Giannakidou:
Anti-specificity and the role of number: the case of Spanish 'algún/algunos'
16:00 - 16:30Kaffepause
16:30 - 17:30Irene Franco, Olga Kellert, Guido Mensching & Cecilia Poletto:
On (negative) indefinites in Old Italian
17:30 - 18:30Remus Gergel:
Another route towards epistemic indefinites: A case for VERUM?

Donnerstag, 25. Februar 2016
9:00 – 10:00Ljudmila Geist:
From indefinite NP to bare NP: why does the indefinite article disappear?
10:00 - 11:00Patrick G. Grosz:
Scalar epistemic indefinites: a case study of 'weiß Gott w-' in Present Day German
11:00 - 11:30Kaffeepause
11:30 - 12:00

Ricardo Etxepare:
From correlative protases to existential pronouns in Basque

12:00 - 12:30

Amel Kallel & Pierre Larrivée:

Strong polarity contexts and evolution of n-words

12:30 - 13:00

Moreno Mitrović:

Indefinite polarisation and its scalar origin: evidence from Japonic

Freitag, 26. Februar 2016
11:30 – 12:00

Rosemarie Lühr:

Konstruktionen mit Indefinita in altindogermanischen Sprachen

12:00 - 12:30Andrei Sideltsev:
Relative and indefinite pronouns: synchrony and diachrony. The case of Hittite
12:30 - 13:00

Silvia Luraghi:

Partitive case markers and indefiniteness: a diachronic survey

13:00 - 14:00