Strand 3 : Typology and Dynamics of Linguistic Systems

Updated: May 4

Manager : Katharina Haude (Sedyl – Inalco), co-responsable: Dmitry Idiatov (Llacan – Inalco





Strand 3 studies the diversity of the world's languages. Most of its members are field linguists with strong expertise in the description and documentation of less studied languages. Research in this area focuses on typology (i.e., the study of universals and differences found in world languages regardless of their genealogical relationship), as well as variation in space and time between geographically or genealogically related languages. These include in-depth interlinguistic analyses of particular linguistic phenomena, as well as studies of the short- and long-term effects of contact between related and unrelated languages.

Many Strand 3 projects build on the results of the first phase of LABEX-EFL, for example by using the databases created there. This empirical base will be complemented by the creation of new databases designed for quantitative and qualitative analysis, benefiting from expertise in more than 100 languages and language families.

The originality of Strand 3 lies in the interaction between the history of linguistics, historical linguistics (reconstruction of macro-families, long-term typological change), contact linguistics, linguistic documentation and typology. Research is based on qualitative and quantitative approaches (intensive use of databases and electronic corpora to evaluate theoretical problems). The increasing interoperability between all these resources and the cross-checking of hypotheses between the different approaches will provide innovative scientific perspectives.


Strand 3 Operations, 2020-2024


  1. GRAMMAR AND LEXICON IN SYNCHRONY AND DIACHRONY (GL)

GL1 Ideophones and interjections in a typological, areal and diachronic perspective

Aimée Lahaussois, Yvonne Treis

GL2 Lexical typology across time and space

Alexandre François, Lameen Souag, Martine Vanhove

GL3 Associated motion and posture

Patrick Caudal, Guillaume Jacques

GL4 Typology of inflectional systems with non-canonical inflection

Enrique L. Palancar, Sebastian Fedden

GL5 Morphosyntax in discourse

Katharina Haude, Tatiana Nikitina

GL6 Text corpora for Mande languages

Valentin Vydrin

GL7 Reconstruction, genealogy, typology and grammatical description in the world’s two biggest phyla: Niger- Congo and Austronesian

Isabelle Bril, Alexandre François, Mark van de Velde

GL8 Extended grammars

Émilie Aussant


  1. VARIATION AND CONTACT (VC)

VC1 Languages, dialects and isoglosses of West Asia

Pollet Samvelian, Anaïd Donabédian

VC2 Central Gallo-Romance : linguistics and ecology of a transitional zone

Nicolas Quint

VC3 Syntactic variation in creole languages

Stefano Manfredi, Nicolas Quint

VC4 Variation and contact between closely related languages

Isabelle Léglise, Stefano Manfredi

VC5 Towards a typology of codeswitching through multifactorial analysis of plurilingual corpora (Prolongation of former LC1)

Isabelle Léglise

Interview with Martine Vanhove, former head of Strand 3



 

1. GRAMMAR AND LEXICON IN SYNCHRONY AND DIACHRONY (GL)

GL1 Ideophones and interjections in a typological, areal and diachronic perspective

Aimée Lahaussois,Yvonne Treis

Interjections and ideophones are minor classes of invariable words that often display phonosymbolism, thereby being on the crossroads between arbitrary and motivated language. In the history of linguistic description, these words have been the object of major difficulties of definition. Starting out with case studies, the project analyzes the morphological, syntactic and semantic properties of these word classes by combining the perspectives of linguistic typology, diachrony, areal linguistics, and the analysis of multimodal speech.

GL2 Lexical typology across time and space

Alexandre François, Lameen Souag, Martine Vanhove


This project is at the crossroad between synchronic lexico-semantic typology and the diachronic study of semantic change. It aims at examining several semantic fields whose cross-linguistic structure has yet to be mapped in detail in the perspective of language change. This will be achieved through the study of cross-linguistic variations in the lexicon which show recurrent patterns and typological trends in a limited number of semantic domains (motion, impact and manipulation, cognition), using existing lexical databases and building a dedicated one. Understanding the dynamics of lexical typology is essential not only in order to explain the stability of statistical universals, but more broadly in order to shed light on one of the thorniest problems of historical linguistics: semantic reconstruction.

GL3 Associated motion and posture

Patrick Caudal, Guillaume Jacques


This research project is devoted to the typology of associated movement (Koch 1984; Wilkins 1991) and associated posture (Enfield 2002), with an emphasis on areal typological approaches (Austronesian, Australian, Sino-Tibetan languages, Niger-Congo, in particular). Associated posture and associated movement will be understood here in the broadest possible sense, i.e., ranging from dedicated lexical classes to specifically grammatical phenomena - whether related to particles, clitics, or affixes. Relations between associated posture / associated movement and description of events will be more specifically targeted. In many languages of the world, in fact, these categories are linked e.g. to serial verb systems, TAM auxiliaries/ verbal periphrases, etc.


GL4 Typology of inflectional systems with non-canonical inflection (NEW)

Enrique L. Palancar, Sebastian Fedden


The purpose of this project is to create better typological knowledge of inflectional complexity in the world’s languages by studying non-canonical inflectional phenomena on new data coming from less-described languages and by adopting new approaches to better known morphological systems. The goal is to combine typological, formal and quantitative approaches for the system of inflectional systems. Empirical subjects of particular interest are non-concatenative flexion, the continuum between synthesis and periphrasis and the emergence of non-canonical flexion, as well as the emergence of uninflectedness.

GL5 Morphosyntax in discourse

Katharina Haude, Tatiana Nikitina

Based on discourse corpora of genealogically and typologically distinct languages, we investigate the grammatical constructions that speakers actually use when describing events – in particular, events involving two or more participants – in a larger context. This includes the analysis of verbal voice alternations, the ways in which event participants are referred to (or not), and the linear order of clausal constituents. Particular attention will be paid to factors such as animacy, definiteness, and different types of topicality of discourse referents, as well as to the employment of verbal categories (voice, aspect) used to direct the hearer’s attention.


GL6 Text corpora for Mande languages

Valentin Vydrin

This operation, which has started in the first phase of the LABEX, is reaching a stage of maturity. During the first stage main electronic tools necessary for the functioning of the parallel corpora, syntactically annotated corpora and audiocorpora, were developed. These will, on the one hand, facilitate the expansion and improvement of the existing text corpora and, on the other hand, help to quickly create text corpora of additional Mande languages and, eventually, of languages from other families.

During the new phase the NLP aspects of the project will be emphasized, in particular: automatic (statistically-based) disambiguation; automatic clusterization of polysemy (on the basis of vectorial analysis); development of OCR tools for the concerned languages. Furthermore, first attempts at speech recognition and automatic translation will be made.

GL7 Reconstruction, genealogy, typology and grammatical description in the world’s two biggest phyla: Niger- Congo and Austronesian

Isabelle Bril, Alexandre François, Mark van de Velde

The rising prominence of typological approaches to the study of language universals and of evolutionary approaches to explanation in linguistics entails a renewed interest in the classification of the languages of the world as well as in the reconstruction of their proto-languages. This in turn requires careful lexical and syntactic analysis of a great sample of languages based, as much as possible, on first-hand data collected by specialists.

This project aims at a better understanding of the history and internal genealogy of the two biggest language phyla of the world, viz. Niger-Congo and Austronesian. Bringing together some of the world’s leading experts, we will strengthen the empirical basis of comparative work in these phyla by describing and documenting individual languages, and we will propose better classifications and genealogies. In every domain of our research project (description, classification and reconstruction), specialists of Austronesian and Niger-Congo will exchange methods and insight from their own field.

GL8 Extended grammars

Émilie Aussant

The history of language description can be seen as a major, more or less successful, undertaking of adaptation of linguistic tools initially shaped to describe or represent a (very) small amount of languages: of the many thousands of languages known in the world, only a few have produced linguistic tools which describe the language in which they are composed); this is the case for Arabic, Chinese, Greek and Sanskrit. Spearheaded by S. Auroux, a number of works have been carried out on the transfer of the Latin grammatical model onto European vernaculars and « exotic » languages–a phenomenon called « Extended Latin Grammar » by Auroux. It is now appropriate 1) to document widely the other cases of « extended grammars »; 2) to test the commensurability of these different transfer phenomena; 3) to investigate carefully the linguistic terminology in order to reconstruct its long and complex history.

2. VARIATION AND CONTACT

VC1 Languages, dialects and isoglosses of West Asia

Anaïd Donabedian, Pollet Samvelian

The configuration of West Asia is valuable for modelling the notion of linguistic area and the interaction of dialectology/contact/typology . The project has internationally recognised skills (Armenian, Iranian languages) and strong partnerships (Greek from Asia Minor, Caucasian languages, Turkish, Semitic), which it federates into a visible and innovative cluster. This new phase of the operation aims to:

- complete the mapping modeling of the area

- explore two types of structures to investigate both the fine mechanisms of language contact in West Asia and the degree of typological constraint related to OV order in general in the world's languages:

1) Word order and information structure

2) Differential argument marking.


VC2 Central Gallo-Romance : linguistics and ecology of a transitional zone

Nicolas Quint


Our research group intends to develop a multidisplinary approach of the gallo-romance varieties of the linguistic Crescent, which represent a fascinating case study for contact linguistics, as these varieties display simultaneously Oilic and Occitan features. In the period 2020-2024, a special emphasis will be put on the three following topics : (i) the linguistic Crescent and its environment (study of the Oilic or Occitan varieties spoken around the Crescent area and of the regional French varieties spoken alongside the Crescent varieties), (ii) checking the non-linguistic (anthropological, historical, etc.) correlates of the isoglosses observed in the field, (iii) development of psycholinguistic studies devoted to the Crescent. All in all, this new project aims at proposing a global, multidisciplinary and ecological approach of the linguistic Crescent.

VC3 Syntactic variation in creole languages

Stefano Manfredi, Nicolas Quint

One of the main problems in typologizing syntactic structures on the basis of (semi)spontaneous data is represented by the high degree of individual variation affecting these structures. This is especially true for creole languages whose syntactic structures are affected by different linguistic processes such as substrate/adstrate interference, creole-lexifier attrition as well as innovative ongoing changes. This project aims at integrating the analysis of syntactic variation with the typologisation of different kinds of syntactic structures (subordinated and coordinated clauses) in creole languages as well as categorizing better the semantic values and origins of creole coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

VC4 Variation and contact between closely related languages

Isabelle Léglise, Stefano Manfredi

This project aims at developing a fine-grained analysis of the contact dynamics involving closely related languages. Based on heterogeneous (i.e. multistylistic and multidialectal) corpora, it has for ambition to typologize different kinds of variation at play in contact settings so as to revise the notion of “language boundaries” and to refine the analysis of the social implications of language contact.

VC5 Towards a typology of codeswitching through multifactorial analysis of plurilingual corpora (Prolongation of former LC1)

Isabelle Léglise


This research program investigates codeswitching and contact phenomena through multifactorial analysis of plurilingual corpora. It aims at 1) critically examining the typology of terms proposed in the literature and 2) devising a typology of codeswitching phenomena from corpora from a great range of situations and social contexts.