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Don Daniels: "A method for mitigating the problem of borrowing in syntactic reconstruction", 21 October 2015

Australian National University, Evolution, Shape

Date: 21 October 2015

When: 4pm, 21 October 2015

Where: The Engma Room, Coombs, ANU

 The last decade has seen a renewed interest in syntactic reconstruction, with particularly numerous attempts at reconstructing grammar being made within a constructional framework (e.g. Barðdal & Eythórsson 2012, Barðdal 2013, Barðdal & Smitherman 2013). But while scholars of all theoretical persuasions agree that grammatical borrowing is a serious obstacle to the successful reconstruction of grammar, to date there have been few proposed solutions to this methodological conundrum. In this talk I propose a method, couched in a constructional view of language, for mitigating the problem of borrowing in syntactic reconstruction. I then exemplify the effectiveness of this method by applying it to two pieces of grammar from the Sogeram languages of Papua New Guinea: clause chain subordination and the desiderative construction. The method allows the reconstruction of the former, but identifies the latter as a likely grammatical borrowing and therefore not a reconstructable Proto-Sogeram construction.

This presentation is hosted by the Centre for Research on Language Change.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University