CRLC Seminar Series, ANU, 2007

Normal time: Tuesdays, 11.00am-12.30pm
Seminar Room B, HC Coombs Building (no.9), Australian National University


30th March, 2007:

Erich Round

(Yale University)

“Reconstructing Tangkic truncation and augmentation”

In this talk I examine the synchronic processes of truncation (domain final loss of segments) and augmentation (domain final addition of segments) in the modern Tangkic languages Kayardild, Yukulta and Lardil, and then offer a tentative reconstruction of the history of truncation and augmentation in the Tangkic language family. A considerable part of this history plays out in (pre-)proto-Tangkic, i.e., before the daughter languages diverged, though there are also non-trivial developments which occur after that divergence. The talk ends with a discussion of possible ramifications of the reconstruction for our picture of subgrouping within the Tangkic family: I suggest that for the time being it would be prudent to remain skeptical (though not necessarily doubtful) of the existence of a 'Southern Tangkic' node under which Kayardild and Yukulta are grouped as more closely related to one another than either is to Lardil. Rather, I would say that we currently lack the evidence required for any definitive subgrouping, and that additional, detailed historical work is needed.

17th April, 2007:

William Steed

(School of Language Studies, ANU)

“Aspects of Chu Tone Sandhi”

The tones of the Chu region of the Chinese Wu language are quite diverse. On the other hand the tone sandhi, although it varies has some typological cohesion. My project endeavors first to catalogue and describe the acoustics of these tones and their sandhi, and then to propose a history of the region's tone sandhi. This is further complicated by the typological similarity of Chu tone sandhi to that of the northern Min dialects rather than to the sandhi of Northern Wu tones.

Here, I present an introduction to the aims of my project with a demonstration of the method of measurement and a description of the tone sandhi of one site: Taishun. Taishun tone sandhi is generally typical of Chu tone sandhi, in that the first syllable’s tone is mostly neutralised, but the retention of the register feature distinguishes it from other Chu varieties. The results also show some of the issues that must be addressed in the course of the project.

24th April, 2007:

Felicity Meakins

(University of Melbourne)

“Alternational Code-switching and mixed language genesis”

The extent to which code-switching is a factor in the formation and resulting character of mixed languages is debated extensively. Although some maintain that code-switching plays no role in mixed language genesis (Bakker, 2003), a body of work is growing which supports the contribution of code-switching (Auer, 1999). Within this work the different structures of mixed languages are compared with insertional and alternational code-switching, with /insertional/ code-switching favoured as the predecessor to mixed languages. Insertional code-switching constraints are then considered to be responsible for the resultant shape of the mixed language (Myers-Scotton, 2002). Alternational code-switching is deemed too unconstrained and structurally variable to grammaticalise with any consistency (Backus, 2003).

One of the problems with this discussion is the lack of empirical evidence. Such evidence exists in one case of a mixed language, Gurindji Kriol (Australia). In the mid 1970s, code-switching between Gurindji and Kriol was a very common style of communication (McConvell, 1985). Thirty years later Gurindji people speak a mixed language, Gurindji Kriol, which exhibits a split along NP-VP lines. Gurindji contributes the NP structure including case and derivational morphology, and the VP structure including TAM morphology originates from Kriol. McConvell and Meakins (2005) show that code-switching not only preceded the formation of Gurindji Kriol, but that the split of the mixed language corresponds with the pattern of code-switching. In this paper I will build on this work and demonstrate that, contrary to expectations, the code-switching of the 1970s exhibits both insertional and alternational structures and the alternational structures are responsible for the presence of case-marking in Gurindji Kriol.

Auer, P. (1999). From codeswitching via language mixing to fused lects: Toward a dynamic typology of bilingual speech. Journal of Bilingualism, 3(4), 309-332.

Backus, A. (2003). Can a mixed language be conventionalized alternational codeswitching? In Y. Matras & P. Bakker (Eds.), The mixed language debate: Theoretical and empirical advances (pp. 237-270). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Bakker, P. (2003). Mixed languages as autonomous systems. In Y. Matras & P. Bakker (Eds.), The mixed language debate: Theoretical and empirical advances (pp. 107-150). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

McConvell, P. (1985). Domains and codeswitching among bilingual Aborigines. In M. Clyne (Ed.), Australia, meeting place of languages (Vol. C-92, pp. 95-125). Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

McConvell, P., & Meakins, F. (2005). Gurindji Kriol: A mixed language emerges from code-switching. Australian Journal of Linguistics, 25(1), 9-30.

Myers-Scotton, C. (2002). Contact linguistics : bilingual encounters and grammatical outcomes. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press.

O'Shannessy, C. (2006). Language contact and children's bilingual language acquisition: Learning a mixed language and Warlpiri in northern Australia. Unpublished PhD, University of Sydney, Sydney.

20th November, 2007:

Yaron Matras

(University of Manchester and Research Centre for Linguistic Typology, La Trobe University, Melbourne)

“Toward an integrated theory of grammatical borrowing”

The study of contact-induced change has been guided in recent years primarily by the following assumptions:

  1. contact-related change is external change,
  2. contact-related change is shaped primarily by sociolinguistic factors,
  3. contact-related change is unpredictable, since any kind of structure can be 'borrowed' or re-shaped as a result of contact.

I challenge these assumptions by suggesting an integrated approach to language contact. This approach is based on the following principles:

  1. every language change begins with an innovation introduced into discourse by an individual speaker;
  2. bilingual speakers pursue a definable range of strategies in discourse, aiming to maintain separation of their 'languages' on the one hand, but also to make optimal and effective use of their full repertoire of communicative structures, on the other;
  3. many borrowing phenomena have their origin in language processing 'malfunctions', and so they are by origin at least independent of social factors, but dependent on cognitive universals; 4) as a result, clear trends are identifiable in contact-induced change, including frequency-based and implicational hierarchies.

In support of these arguments I provide data from young and adult bilinguals, as well as from cross-linguistic surveys of grammatical borrowing.


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