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Generative Historical Syntax and the Linguistic Cycle

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  1. Generative Historical Syntax and the Linguistic Cycle Elly van Gelderen 29 March 2013 Harvard Linguistic Circle

  2. Outline A. What is Generative Historical Linguistics? B. The healthy tension between generative grammar and historical linguistics, in both directions and how the current Minimalist Program is conducive to looking at gradual, unidirectional change. C. Examples of Linguistic Cycles and how they can be explained and some challenges.

  3. Model of language acquisition(based on Andersen 1973) Generation n Generation n+1 UG UG + + experience experience n = = I-language n I-language n+1 E-language n E-language n+1 + innovations

  4. Internal Grammar

  5. Reanalysis is crucial:

  6. As for the tension: Introspection vs text Generative syntax has typically relied on introspective data. For historical periods, such a method of data gathering is obviously impossible. Generative grammar places much emphasis on the distinction between competence and performance, i.e. on I(nternal)- and E(xternal)-language.

  7. Use (of texts and) corpora Finding a pattern in a (spoken) corpus shows that there is something systematic going on: repeatedly finding shouldof and shoulda indicates that something interesting is happening with modals and perfect auxiliaries: (1) I should of knew this was too good to be true. (2) There xuld not a be do so mykele. `There shouldn’t have been done so much.’ (Margaret Paston a1469)

  8. That-trace (1) Ac hwaet saegst ðu ðonne ðaet hwaet sie forcuðre ðonne sio ungesceadwisnes? But what say you then that -- be wickeder than be foolishness `But what do you say is wickeder than foolishness?' (Boethius 36.8, from Allen 1977: 122)

  9. Parsed Corpora Since the 1990s, a group of generative linguists has worked on the creation of parsed corpora (see Result: much better descriptions of changes in the word order (e.g. work by Pintzuk, Haeberli, Taylor, van Kemenade and others), changes in do-support (e.g. Kroch and Ecay), Adverb Placement (Haeberli, van Kemenade, and Los), and pro drop (Walkden). Corpus work has reinvigorated Historical Linguistics.

  10. Other historical (parsed) corpora have appeared or are appearing and spurring much work among generative and non-generative linguists: the Tycho Brahe parsed corpus of historical Portuguese, o corpus do Português, the Corpus del Español, the Regensburg Russian Diachronic Corpus, a Hungarian corpus is under construction, and COHA with a very helpful interface!

  11. Some other issues of discussion Change is unidirectional or not and gradual or not Current theory-internal questions The role of UG: Language-specific or third factor The role of features

  12. The role of grammaticalization and unidirectionality. Is grammaticalization epiphenomenal or real? Newmeyer (1998: 237); Roberts & Roussou (2003: 2) and others: “grammaticalization is a regular case of parameter change … [and] epiphenomenal” all components also occur independently. Others, e.g. van Gelderen (2004; 2011), argue that the unidirectional patterns that are shown by grammaticalization can be `explained’: the child reanalyzes the input in a certain way. This is where cycles come in!

  13. Is change gradual or abrupt? Most functionalist explanations assume it is gradual whereas many formal accounts think it is abrupt. Early generative approaches emphasize a catastrophic reanalysis of both the underlying representation and the rules applying to them. Lightfoot, for instance, argues that the category change of modals is an abrupt one from V to AUX, as is the change from impersonal to personal verbs (the verb lician changing in meaning from `please’ to `like’).

  14. How to see the role of UG? In the 1960s, UG consists of substantive universals, concerning universal categories (V, N, etc) and phonological features, and formal universals relating to the nature of rules. The internalized system is very language-specific. “[S]emantic features ..., are presumably drawn from a universal ‘alphabet’” (Chomsky 1965: 142), “little is known about this today”.

  15. 1990s-2013 Parameters now consist of choices of feature specifications as the child acquires a lexicon (Chomsky 2004; 2007). Baker, while disagreeing with this view of parameters, calls this the Borer-Chomsky-Conjecture (2008: 156): "All parameters of variation are attributable to differences in the features of particular items (e.g., the functional heads) in the lexicon."

  16. Shift With the shift to parametric parameters, it becomes possible to think of gradual change through reanalysis as well (e.g. Roberts 2009 and van Gelderen 2009). Word order change in terms if features e.g. Breitbarth 2012, Biberauer & Roberts. The set of features that are available to the learner is determined by UG.

  17. Features and word order Biberauer & Roberts (2008) in examining the shift from OV to VO crucially rely on a EPP-feature. If T bears an EPP feature, a D head will adjoin to T or a DP will move to the specifier of the TP in Modern English. Languages can also have a VP or vP satisfy the EPP feature rather than just the DP contained in the VP or vP.

  18. Features and grammaticalization Another minimalist approach using features, not concerned with word order, can be found in van Gelderen (2004; 2010) who argues that grammaticalization can be understood as a change from semantic to formal features. For instance, a verb with semantic features, such as Old English will with [volition, expectation, future], can be reanalyzed as having only the grammatical feature [future].

  19. A second shift Faculty of Language is determined by: “(1) genetic endowment, which sets limits on the attainable languages, thereby making language acquisition possible; (2) external data, converted to the experience that selects one or another language within a narrow range; (3) principles not specific to FL [the Faculty of Language]. Some of the third factor principles have the flavor of the constraints that enter into all facets of growth and evolution.... Among these are principles of efficient computation”. (Chomsky 2007: 3)

  20. Third factors We need more on third factors: not well defined and invoked to account for a number of phenomena, e.g. pro-drop (Sigurðsson 2011), phrase structure (Medeiros 2012), and language change (van Gelderen 2011). Constraints on word learning, such as the shape over color bias (Landau et al 1992), would also be third factor. Like UG before it, third factor reasons would remain stable and not responsible in language change.

  21. Cycles tell us which features matter Subject and Object Agreement demonstrative/emphatic > pronoun > agreement > zero Copula Cycle a demonstrative > copula > zero b verb > aspect > copula Case or Definiteness or DP demonstrative > definite article > ‘Case’ > zero Negative a negative argument > negative adverb > negative particle > zero b verb > aspect > negative > C Future and Aspect Auxiliary A/P > M > T > C

  22. Heine, Claudi & Hünnemeyer’s 3 types 1. “isolated instances of grammaticalization”, as when a lexical item grammaticalizes and is then replaced by a new lexeme. For instance, the lexical verb go (or want) being used as a future marker. 2. “subparts of language, for example, when the tense-aspect-mood system of a given language develops from a periphrastic into an inflexional pattern and back to a new periphrastic one” or when negatives change.

  23. and 3. “entire languages and language types” but there is “more justification to apply the notion of a linguistic cycle to individual linguistic developments”, e.g. the development of future markers, of negatives, and of tense, rather than to changes in typological character, as in from analytic to synthetic and back to analytic.

  24. Caution about the third kind Heine et al’s reasons for caution about the third type of change, i.e. a cyclical change in language typology, is that we don’t know enough about older stages of languages. Most linguists are comfortable with cycles of the first and second kind but they are not with cycles of the third kind, e.g. Jespersen (1922; chapter 21.9).

  25. Macroparameters and microparameters Baker (2001) and, more recently, Biberauer & Roberts (2012) have formulated macro and micro parameters. Macroparameters for Baker define the character of a particular language, e.g. polysynthetic or not, whereas microparameters for B&R may involve the features of a particular lexical item.

  26. Macrocycles and microcycles In the same vein, it is possible to distinguish two kinds of cycles, a macrocycle and a microcycle. A microcyle involves just one aspect of the language, for instance, negatives or demonstratives being reinforced by adverbs, as in English those people there. They include Heine et al’s first and second kind. Macrocycles, more controversially, concern the entire linguistic system, i.e. Heine et al’s third kind.

  27. von der Gabelentz 1901 Nun bewegt sich die Geschichte der Sprachen in der Diagonale zweier Kräfte: des Bequemlichkeitstriebes, der zur Abnutzung der Laute führt, und des Deutlichkeitstriebes, der jene Abnutzung nicht zur Zerstörung der Sprache ausarten lässt. Die Affixe verschleifen sich, verschwinden am Ende spurlos; ihre Funktionen aber oder ähnliche drängen wieder nach Ausdruck.

  28. ctd Diesen Ausdruck erhalten sie, nach der Methode der isolierenden Sprachen, durch Wortstellung oder verdeutlichende Wörter. Letztere unterliegen wiederum mit der Zeit dem Agglutinationsprozesse, dem Verschliffe und Schwunde, und derweile bereitet sich für das Verderbende neuer Ersatz vor ... ; immer gilt das Gleiche: die Entwicklungslinie krümmt sich zurück nach der Seite der Isolation, nicht in die alte Bahn, sondern in eine annähernd parallele. Darum vergleiche ich sie der Spirale. (von der Gabelentz 1901: 256)

  29. The history of language moves in the diagonal of two forces: the impulse toward comfort, which leads to the wearing down of sounds, and that toward clarity, which disallows this erosion and the destruction of the language. The affixes grind themselves down, disappear without a trace; their functions or similar ones, however, require new expression. They acquire this expression, by the method of isolating languages, through word order or clarifying words. The latter, in the course of time, undergo agglutination, erosion, and in the mean time renewal is prepared: periphrastic expressions are preferred ... always the same: the development curves back towards isolation, not in the old way, but in a parallel fashion. That's why I compare them to spirals.

  30. Comfort + Clarity = Grammaticalization + Renewal Von der Gabelentz’ examples of comfort: the unclear pronunciation of everyday expressions, the use of a few words instead of a full sentence, i.e. ellipsis (p. 182-184), “syntaktische Nachlässigkeiten aller Art” (`syntactic carelessness of all kinds’, p. 184), and loss of gender.

  31. Von der G’s examples of clarity special exertion of the speech organs (p. 183), “Wiederholung” (`repetition’, p. 239), periphrastic expressions (p. 239), replacing words like sehr `very’ by more powerful and specific words such as riesig `gigantic’ and schrecklich `frightful’ (243), using a rhetorical question instead of a regular proposition, and replacing case with prepositions (p. 183).

  32. Grammaticalization = one step Hopper & Traugott 2003: content item > grammatical word > clitic > inflectional affix. The loss in phonological content is not a necessary consequence of the loss of semantic content (see Kiparsky 2011; Kiparsky & Condoravdi 2006; Hoeksema 2009). Kiparsky (2011: 19): “in the development of case, bleaching is not necessarily tied to morphological downgrading from postposition to clitic to suffix.” Instead, unidirectionality is the defining property of grammaticalization and any exceptions to the unidirectionality (e.g. the Spanish inflectional morpheme –nos changing to a pronoun) are instances of analogical changes, according to Kiparsky (2011).

  33. In acknowledging weakening of pronunciation (“un affaiblissement de la pronunciation”), Meillet (1912: 139) writes that what provokes the start of the (negative) cycle is the need to speak forcefully (“le besoin de parler avec force”). Kiparsky & Condoravdi (2006) find no evidence for phonetic weakening in Jespersen’s Cycle in Greek and similarly suggest pragmatic and semantic reasons. A simple negative cannot be emphatic; in order for a negative to be emphatic, it needs to be reinforced, e.g. by a minimizer. When emphatic negatives are overused, their semantic impact weakens and they become the regular negative and a new emphatic will appear.

  34. Main question How does the child respond to these fast changes? Feature-spread through the clausal skeleton is reanalyzed.

  35. Microcycle (1)a. I’m gonna leave for the summer. b. *I’m gonna to Flagstaff for the summer. Nesselhauf (2012) identifies three features, intention, prediction, and arrangement, in the change of shall, will, ‘ll, be going to, be to, and the progressive) in the last 250 years: as the sense of intention is lost and replaced by the sense of prediction, new markers of intention will appear: want has intention in (4a) and it is starting to gain the sense of prediction, as in (4b). (2)a. The final injury I want to talk about is brain damage ... (Nesselhauf 2012: 114). b. We have an overcast day today that looks like it wants to rain. (Nesselhauf 2012: 115).

  36. Going to Nesselhauf’s data on BE going to show that its use as a future marker has increased, both in the intention and prediction sense, and that the proportion of pure prediction is increasing. Once the sense of prediction prevails, another verb may be taking over to compensate for the feature of intention.

  37. Macrocycles Hodge (1971): Proto-Afroasiatic analytic *Sm Old Egyptian synthetic sM Late Egyptian analytic Sm Coptic synthetic sM Huang (to appear): Chinese, from moderately synthetic to analytic to moderately synthetic. August Wilhem von Schlegel 1818: for the use of analytic and synthetic.

  38. Attachment Type Cycle Isolating Inflectional Agglutinative Morphemes per word?

  39. Four (micro)cycles I will look at Negative Cycles negative argument > negative adverb > negative particle > zero negative verb > auxiliary > negative > zero Subject Agreement Cycle demonstrative/emphatic > pronoun > agreement > zero Copula Cycles demonstrative/verb/adposition > copula > zero Demonstrative > article/copula/tense marker

  40. Two Negative Cycles I Indefinite phrase > negative = Jespersen’s Cycle Negation weakens and is renewed. For instance: (1) I can’t do that > (2) I can’t see nothing II Verb > negative (3) is-i ba-d-o Koorete she-NOM disappear-PF-PST `She disappeared' (Binyam 2007: 7). (4) ‘is-i dana ‘ush-u-wa-nni-ko she-NOM beer drink-PRES-not_exist-3FS-FOC ‘She does (will) not drink beer.’ (Binyam 2007: 9).

  41. Negative Cycle in Old English450-1150 CE a. no/ne early Old English b. ne (na wiht/not) after 900, esp S c. (ne) not after 1350 d. not > -not/-n’t after 1400

  42. Old English: (1) Men ne cunnon secgan to soðe ... hwa Man not could tell to truth ... who `No man can tell for certain ... who'. (2) Næron 3e noht æmetti3e, ðeah ge wel ne dyden not-were you not unoccupied. though you well not did `You were not unoccupied, though you did not do well'.

  43. Weakening and renewal (1) we cannot tell of (Wycliff Sermons from the 1380s) (2) But I shan't put you to the trouble of farther Excuses, if you please this Business shall rest here. (Vanbrugh, The Relapse1680s). (3) that the sonne dwellith therfore nevere the more ne lasse in oon signe than in another (Chaucer, Astrolabe 665 C1). (4) No, I never see him these days (BNC - A9H 350)

  44. Negative source is a verb (1) wo mei you shu Chinese I not exist book `I don't have a book.’ (2) YaoShun ji mo ... Old Chinese Yao Shun since died `Since Yao and Shun died, ...' (Mengzi, Tengwengong B, from Lin 2002: 5) (3)yu de wang ren mei kunan, ... Early Mandarin wish PRT died person not-be suffering `If you wish that the deceased one has no suffering, ...' (Dunhuang Bianwen, from Lin 2002: 5-6)

  45. One Negative Cycle, e.g. English, French, Arabic XP Spec X' na wihtX YP not> n’t …

  46. And a second According to Lin, mei went through a perfective stage, so: (4) dayi ye mei you chuan, jiu zou le chulai coat even not PF wear, then walk PF out `He didn't even put on his coat and walked out.' (Rulin Waishi, from Lin 2002: 8) (5) NegP Neg ASPP mei ASP VP mei V ... mei

  47. The Subject Cycle A. demonstrative > third person pron > clitic > agreement B. oblique > emphatic > first/second pron > clitic > agreement noun > (1) Shi diné bizaad yíní-sh-ta' I Navajo language 3-1-study ‘As for me, I am studying Navajo.’

  48. Brazilian Portuguese (1) Vossa mercê > Vosmecê > (V)ocê > cê your favor/mercy you you-indefinite (see Mattoso Câmara 1979; Gonçalves 1987; Dutra 1991, cited in Vitral & Ramos 2006) (2) cê only in subject position and pre-V (3) ele(s) > el, es ela(s) > éa, éas (4) es inventa um bocado de coisa / eles inventam … `they invented (S) …’

  49. Some stages Japanese and Urdu/Hindi: full pronoun (1) watashi-wa kuruma-o unten-suru kara. I-TOP car-ACC drive-NONPST PRT ‘I will drive the car'. (Yoko Matsuzaki p.c.) (2)a. mẽy nee us ko dekha 1S ERG him DAT saw b. aadmii nee kitaab ko peRha man ERG book DAT read (3) ham log `we people‘ (4) mẽy or merii behn doonõ dilii mẽy rehtee hẽ I and my sister both Delhi in living are