CRISSP Seminar: Jóhanna Barðdal on October 13

CRISSP is happy to announce another installment in the CRISSP Seminar series:

Lecturer: Jóhanna Barðdal (Ghent University)

Title: How to Identify Cognates in Syntax: Taking Watkins’ Legacy One Step Further

Date & time: Monday October 13, 2014, 17.00-18.30

Location: CRISSP/KULeuven HUBrussel, Stormstraat 2 (Hermes building), room 3101

Participation: free


As a reaction to three different proposals on how to reconstruct basic word order for Proto-Indo-European, Watkins and his contemporaries in the Seventies succeeded in aborting any attempt at reconstructing syntax for a long time to come. As a consequence, syntactic reconstruction has generally been regarded as a stranded enterprise by historical linguists for several different reasons, one of which is the alleged difficulty in identifying cognates in syntax. Later, Watkins (1995) proposed a research program aiming at reconstructing larger units of grammar, including syntactic structures, by means of identifying morphological flags that are parts of larger syntactic entities. As a response to this, we show how cognate argument structure constructions may be identified, through a) cognate lexical verbs, b) cognate case frames, c) cognate predicate structure and d) cognate case morphology. We then propose to advance Watkins’ program, by identifying cognate argument structure constructions with the aid of noncognate, but synonymous, lexical predicates. As a consequence, it will not only be possible to identify cognate argument structure constructions across a deeper time span, but also to carry out semantic reconstruction on the basis of lexical-semantic verb classes.