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Uta Reinöhl: "Exploring configurationality as a historical phenomenon. From non-configurational to (low-level) configurational in Indo-European", ANU, 18 November

Australian National University, Shape

Date: 18 November 2015

When: 4-5.30pm, 18 November

Where: The Engma Room, Coombs Building, the Australian National University (directions here)

The Indo-European family offers a unique attestation of the overhaul of a grammatical system from being non-configurational to a far-reaching degree in early stages, found in the clearest form in Vedic Sanskrit, to varying levels of configurationality in modern IE languages. I explore in this talk how we get from the former stage to the latter and I show that the historical changes involved are much more diverse than has been assumed, both for Indo-European and in general.

I illustrate how the grammaticalization of adpositions was the initial historical event introducing syntactic constraints of linear ordering and obligatory expression in various daughter branches, thus giving rise to the first types of configurational structures, i.e. adpositional phrases. However, based on evidence from Indo-Aryan and contrary to received opinion (e.g. Hewson & Bubenik 2006, Luraghi 2010), I argue that there is not a single one, but that there are two different origins of adpositional phrases in IE, and thus of phrasality in general (Reinöhl forthc.). Above and beyond Indo-European, these two origins are representative of the two logical possibilities in which phrase structure may arise introducing degrees of configurational organization, whether in the domain of adpositional marking or in other syntactic domains. On the one hand, phrases may develop from symmetrical groups consisting of syntactically coranking and semantically coreferential elements (e.g. demonstrative + noun combinations developing into noun phrases headed by articles, Himmelmann 1997). On the other hand, phrases may arise from asymmetrical groups consisting of a syntactic head and a dependent, elements which are semantically non-coreferential (e.g. relational noun + genitive combinations).

Hewson, John & Vit Bubenik. 2006. From Case to Adposition. The Development of Configurational Syntax in Indo-European Languages. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 1997. Deiktikon, Artikel, Nominalphrase. Zur Emergenz syntaktischer Struktur. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.

Luraghi, Silvia. 2010. “The rise (and possible downfall) of configurationality”, in: Silvia Luraghi & Vit Bubenik (eds.). The Continuum Companion to Historical Linguistics. London/New York: Continuum, 212-229.

Reinöhl, Uta. Forth. Grammaticalization and the Rise of Configurationality in Indo-Aryan. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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