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Seminar: Being there together: Parallel grammaticalisation in a bilinguals speech community, Nick Evans, et al., 25 May

Australian National University, Nicholas Evans, Shape

Date: 19 February 2018

Seminar: Being there together: Parallel grammaticalisation in a bilinguals speech community

Speaker: Nick Evans, Eri Kashima & Mark Ellison

Venue: Engma Room (5019), HC Coombs Building, ANU

When: 25 May 2018, 3.30pm-5.00pm


Studies of grammaticalisation have in general been carried out in monolingual settings, without emphasis on the sorts of interpersonal variation that is the focus of variationist studies. The latter have likewise focussed largely on monolingual communities, and although the co-present variants focussed on in grammaticalisation studies should be readily compatible with variationist theory, in fact standard variationist treatises pay little attention to the grammaticalisation literature. Yet if we are to understand how new grammatical structures arise in multilingual settings, these two approaches need to be brought together.

In situations of language contact, grammaticalisation processes in two languages A and B could, for any linguistic feature, theoretically lead to (a) structural convergence (e.g. motivated by such factors as cognitive economy, resulting in ‚Äòparallel grammaticalisation‚ (b) structural divergence, whether through unconscious 'doppel avoidance' or more conscious cultivation of linguistic difference (c) completely independent trajectories, without any mutual influence. as speakers (possibly subconsciously) emphasise different structural patterns as a means of social differentiation

In this paper we draw on fine-grained sociolinguistic data to examine the subtly differing trajectories of an emerging prominence marker in Nen and Nmbo, two neighbouring and related languages with basically SOV constituent order spoken in a richly multilingual region of southern New Guinea. Our main focus is on comparing the factors favouring the choice between 'classical' and 'reduced' prominence markers in the two languages, but we also examine data from half a dozen bilingual speakers for whom we have comparable data in both languages.

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