Tid & plats: tisdagen 17 och torsdagen 19 februari 2009, kl. 15-17 i C 307.

Ti 17 februari, kl. 15-17:

"Word order correlations in performance and grammar revisited"
To 19 februari, kl. 15-17: "The interplay between positional verbs and resultative constructions in the domain of secondary states. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of suboptimal primary data in a study based on a picture questionnaire"

"Word order correlations in performance and grammar revisited"

This paper explores the cross-linguistic correlation between order of adposition/case (A) and noun phrase (N) with verb (V) and local phrase (L) in motion events by adducing a new set of evidence: a database of 190 clauses in 100 languages from all continents in a parallel text corpus, the Gospel according to Mark. Constituent order is one of the most discussed topics in the typological literature and correlations between various word order typologies are among the best established correlations in linguistic typology (Greenberg 1963, Hawkins 1983, Dryer 1989, 1992, 2005a/b). Well investigated is especially the order of adpositions in correlation with verb-object (VO) order on the basis of evidence mainly from reference grammars. The dominant line of explanation in the typological literature is functional. However, there is a multiplicity of different possible functional explanations for word order correlations which will be discussed in the talk. In order to argue in favor of or against particular conflicting functional explanations it is important to consider granular use data in a large number of languages. Parallel texts have the advantage that the typology of languages can be directly compared on the level of clauses without any previous data reduction, however, at the cost of a restricted idiomaticity due to translation. Another aim of this paper therefore to evaluate the reliability of parallel text data by confronting them with the results of grammar-based studies.

A common line of argument in the literature is to relate typological patterns to universal discourse preferences. A strong case for a discourse-grammar parallelism in constituent order typology has been made by John Hawkins in various publications. He claims that the constituent order correlation of adpositions and verb-PP order is due to conventionalized performance preferences motivated by ease of processing (Hawkins 1994, 2004). Here it will be argued that studying typological data at a more granular level reveals many cases of differences between discourse tendencies and grammaticalized patterns. Some cases of nearly universal intra-language tendencies in verb-local phrase order will be discussed which never grammaticalize.

A further problem in establishing functional explanations in order typology is that there is some evidence that there is no stationary distribution in constituent order. As has been argued by Maslova (2000) typologists tend to have a “language-as-trials” approach to statistics, which is based on the assumption of a stationary distribution.

Dryer, Matthew S. 1989. Large linguistic areas and language sampling. Studies in Language 13, 257-292.
Dryer, Matthew S. 1992. The Greenbergian word order correlations. Language 68.1: 81-138.
Dryer, Matthew S. 2005a. Order of object and verb. WALS Chapter 83.
Dryer, Matthew S. 2005b. Order of adposition and noun phrase. WALS Chapter 85.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1963. Some universals of grammar with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements. In Joseph H. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of Language, 73-113. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Hawkins, John A. 1983. Word Order Universals. New York: Academic Press.
Hawkins, John A. 1994. A Performance Theory of Order and Constituency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hawkins, John A. 2004. Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Maslova, Elena. 2000. A dynamic approach to the verification of distributional universals. Linguistic Typology 4.3: 307-333.
WALS = Haspelmath, Martin & Dryer, Matthew & Gil, David & Comrie, Bernard (eds.) 2005. The World Atlas of Language Structures. (Book with interactive CD-ROM) Oxford: Oxford University Press.

"The interplay between positional verbs and resultative constructions in the domain of secondary states. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of suboptimal primary data in a study based on a picture questionnaire."

Primary data typology is a cover term for all typological data collection processes based on primary sources rather than descriptions and on exemplars rather than abstractions. Here a picture questionnaire is used to investigate the domain of secondary state position in a convenience sample of fifty-seven spoken languages and two sign languages. In contrast to natural states which may come into being by itself irrespective of the will or effort of an agent, a “secondary state is always the result of somebody’s conscious action or activity” (Nedjalkov & Jaxontov 1988: 4). This study is restricted to secondary states expressing positions. The dominant strategies used to express the domain covered by the questionnaire are positional verbs, resultative constructions, copula, and local predicates. It is argued that the consideration of resultative constructions is indispensable for understanding the typology of positional verbs, since positional verbs typically lexicalize from resultative constructions. An advantage of the questionnaire method is that language-internal variation can be considered. Typologists usually take for granted that the variation in their databases is cross-linguistic and not intra-language variation. Here it is shown that many languages exhibit a considerable amount of intra-language variation which cannot be neglected in typological studies. Moreover, the data collected so far suggest that the degree of intra-language variation is an important cross-linguistic variable which correlates to a certain extent with structural properties of the dominant strategies used in expressing the domain of secondary state position.

Nedjalkov, Vladimir P. & Jaxontov, Sergej Je. (1988). The typology of resultative constructions. Nedjalkov, Vladimir P. (ed). Typology of Resultative Constructions. English transl. ed. by Bernard Comrie. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 3-62.