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Conference Information

Full Title: Perspectives on Interface Vulnerability: Clitics in Language Change and Contact

Short Title: CliticsDrv2017
Location: Zuerich, Switzerland
Start Date: 09-Oct-2017 - 11-Oct-2017
Contact: Judith Meinschaefer
Meeting Email: click here to access email
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Meeting Description: A core hypothesis of current theoretical modeling is that language change happens primarily during language acquisition, both in first and in second language acquisition. Furthermore, it is often assumed that in situations of language acquisition and contact the external interfaces of grammar – i.e., the interface between syntax and information structure/pragmatics on the one hand and the interface between syntax and phonetics/prosody on the other hand – are more vulnerable to change than the internal interfaces – i.e., the interfaces between phonology, morphology and syntax (cf. White 2011, Rothman & Slabokova 2011, Kupisch & Rothman 2016 among others).

Clitics exist in all Romance languages and varieties (albeit only as clitic pronouns, articles, negative particles, or prepositions) and provide excellent data to investigate processes of (contact-induced) language change and, therefore, the vulnerability of the interfaces. Indeed, clitics have long been viewed as interface phenomena. As elements that are located on the grammaticalization scale between autonomous words and affixes, several levels of grammar must be referenced to describe their behavior adequately (Zwicky 1977). In phonological and grammatical respects they seem to have ‘a life of their own’, often differing from other free forms of the same variety. For that reason, they have been regarded as particularly unstable elements (Léglise 2013) where, in situations of language change and language contact, phenomena of change (e.g. reduction, doubling, replacement) become strikingly obvious. The Romance languages, particularly rich in well-described historical and dialectal varieties, with their rapidly evolving urban contact varieties and their long history of creole formation, provide an excellent object of investigation for research on change and variation in clitics and on interface vulnerability in general.
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language Family: Romance
LL Issue: 28.210

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