Modeling Language Change

Kersti Börjars, University of Manchester

This course will consider what predictions a theoretical model of morpho-syntax may be expected to make with respect to historical change, if any. More specifically, we will look at how the architecture of three frameworks has been exploited to account for a number of aspects of grammatical change: Construction Grammar (Traugott and Trousdale, 2013), Lexical-Functional Grammar (Butt and King, 2001) and Minimalism (Roberts and Roussou, 2003; van Gelderen, 2004). 

A range of historical data will be considered, but the focus will be on phenomena generally described as ‘grammaticalisation’, on the overwhelming asymmetry in the direction of change commonly described as ‘unidirectionality’ and on persistence, which involves the co-existence of a grammaticalised form and (traces of) a previous form. The sessions will involve a combination of presentations on background and discussions of specific topics for which participants are expected to have prepared.

Topics in Diachronic Syntax

Ulrike Demske, Universität Potsdam

This course will focus on patterns of syntactic change in the history of German including the syntax of noun phrases as well as the syntax of infinitival complements. Based on a comprehensive review of the changes in question we will discuss in some detail (i) how to model syntactic change in a generative framework and (ii) how a comparative approach making use of individual languages in the Germanic language family might help to account for syntactic changes in German.

Introduction to Comparative Germanic

Tonya Kim Dewey, University of Minnesota, Morris

This course will provide a basic overview of the major older Germanic dialects.  We will be working with real texts (parallel where possible), and discussing methodology for reconstructing Proto-Germanic features in phonology, morphology and syntax.  The recommended text is “Old English and Its Closest Relatives” by Orrin Robinson (Stanford University Press).  Students will also be introduced to a variety of available online resources.

Morphological Change

David Fertig, University at Buffalo

This course will focus on three specific aspects of morphological change: paradigm leveling; types of morphological reanalysis; and the role of markedness. Drawing examples from a wide variety of Germanic languages and dialects, we will explore how these three topics have been addressed in a number of current theoretical frameworks.

Corpus-based research on diachronic Germanic syntax

Christopher Sapp, University of Mississippi

This course will be a hands-on exploration of various diachronic phenomena using selected Germanic corpora. You will learn how to use various interfaces to search the corpora for phonological, morphological, and syntactic features.  You will also learn how to import the results of your search into a statistics program and to use that program to conduct a multi-variable statistical analysis. It is recommended that students bring a laptop to the course if possible.ds