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Conference Information

Full Title: Germanic and Romance. Probing the Similarities and Differences

Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Start Date: 31-Jul-2017 - 04-Aug-2017
Contact: Christine Meklenborg Salvesen
Meeting Email: click here to access email
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Meeting Description: There is a large literature in the field of comparative and historical syntax of drawing comparison between Germanic and Romance varieties. This includes a particular tradition which argues that the earlier languages were more alike than their present day counterparts (see in particular Adams 1989; Fontana 1993; Mathieu 2007 and Franco 2009). The most prominent example of this similarity is the Verb Second constraint, which is characteristic of many early and contemporary Germanic languages (see Vikner 1995 and Walkden 2014) and argued to be operative in Medieval Romance (Thurneysen 1892 et seq.). The workshop will aim to develop a more nuanced understanding of both the parallels and points of contrast between these two families, through synchronic comparison of phenomena in previous historical stages and diachronic consideration of the relevant pathways of change.

The time is right for such an exercise on several grounds. First, research in recent decades has equipped the historical linguist with a range of large-scale corpora for both Germanic and Romance (see, for example, in the case of Romance the Tycho Brahe Parsed Corpus of Historical Portuguese, the Base de Français Médiéval and the Opera del Vocabolario Italiano alongside the Penn Parsed Corpus of Historical English, the Icelandic Parsed Historical Corpus and the Corpus of Historical Low German for Germanic). This affords a methodologically more robust basis for comparison than has previously been possible empirically. Second, a more nuanced understanding has been reached in recent years of previously little-reported variation amongst the early Germanic and Romance varieties (see Walkden 2014 and Wolfe 2015), which has so far not been extensively exploited for comparison between Germanic and Romance. Third, much controversy has been generated over whether reported Romance and Germanic parallels are genuine (see Mathieu 2006 vs. Labelle 2007 on Stylistic Fronting and Benincà 2013 vs. Kaiser 2002 on Verb second). We therefore set out to evaluate the relevant arguments in more depth, by considering a wider body of empirical evidence.

By probing in more depth than has previously been the case, we seek to establish just how similar two well-studied branches of the Indo-European family are, what role language contact has played in generating possible resemblances and whether systematic comparison of Germanic and Romance varieties can help us identify new cycles of linguistic change (on which see Van Gelderen 2011).

Against this backdrop we welcome comparative treatments of Germanic and Romance data which present new perspectives on the phenomena in question and theories of linguistic change. Contributions of both a historical-synchronic and diachronic nature are welcome on, but not limited to, the following phenomena:

- The C-system
- Hypotaxis and parataxis
- Null arguments
- OV and VO
- Pronominal system
- Resumptive structures
- Stylistic Fronting
- Subject positions
- V2

We hope the workshop would lead us to a better understanding of the processes of change at play in the Germanic and Romance languages, and relatedly, the structure of historical variation for the phenomena in question.
Linguistic Subfield: Historical Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics
Subject Language Family: Germanic; Romance
LL Issue: 27.3362

This is a session of the following meeting:
International Conference on Historical Linguistics 23

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