Tid: Torsdag 27 april 2017, kl 15:00-17:00
Plats: C307, Södra huset, Frescati

OBS: Nytt datum!

Postseminarium följer direkt efter seminariet i institutionens pentry.


In this talk, I present three case studies (one completed, one ongoing, and one just started) on the typology and evolution of gender and number agreement systems.

First, I discuss my postdoctoral research in Helsinki, which focused on the language-internal and external dynamics whereby grammatical gender systems may rise and/or decay. Based on a sample of 15 sets of closely related languages, I studied the patterns of language change behind the emergence, reduction and loss of gender agreement morphology, as well as their possible socio-historical correlates.

Second, I present some preliminary findings from an ongoing study in collaboration with Annemarie Verkerk (MPI for the Science of Human History), where we investigate the typology and diachrony of the Bantu (Atlantic-Congo) gender systems (a.k.a. noun class systems). While most Bantu languages are characterized by highly pervasive, non-sex-based gender systems (e.g., Duala, ISO: dua), some Bantu languages display instances of restructuring in this area of grammar: partially animacy-based gender marking (e.g., Swahili, ISO: swh); completely animacy-based gender marking (e.g., Bera, ISO: brf), and no gender marking at all (e.g., Komo, ISO: kmw). We investigate the patterns of change that account for the transition(s) from the Duala to the Swahili, Bera, and Komo systems, as well as the socio-historical factors that may have contributed to shape the distribution of these systems.

Third, I introduce the project I will be working on at Stockholm University until December 2018. The project is a cross-linguistic study of plural agreement in Cushitic (Afro-Asiatic) languages. The characterization of nominal number in Cushitic has been (and still is) considerably debated both by typologists (Corbett 2012) and descriptive linguists (Mous 2008). This project aims to test the hypothesis whereby, in Cushitic languages, the development and use of dedicated patterns of plural agreement are constrained by a hierarchy of semantic and lexical plurality. After introducing my research questions and methodology, I present some preliminary ideas about an experiment that Hatice Zora and myself are planning to design in order to investigate the role of semantic and lexical plurality in the emergence and transmission of plural agreement in spoken languages.

Corbett, Greville. 2012. Features. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mous, Maarten. 2008. Number as an exponent of gender in Cushitic. In Zygmunt Frajzyngier & Erin Shay (eds.), Interaction of morphology and syntax: Case studies in Afroasiatic, 137–160. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Hjärtligt välkomna!

Pernilla Hallonsten Halling & Ljuba Veselinova