CRISSP Seminar with Øystein A. Vangsnes

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

Lecturer: Øystein A. Vangsnes (University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway& Sogn og Fjordane University College)

Title: Patterns of syncretism in indexicals: a nanosyntactic interpretation 

Date & time: Thursday 21 January 2016, 17h 

Location: CRISSP/KU Leuven Brussels Campus, room 5212

Participation: free


In this talk I will look at how the lexicalization range of indexicals differ both across languages and across the WH/D dimension within languages. I will show (i) that items may lexicalize more than one syntactic function as long as the functions in question are adjacent in the continuum in (1), and (ii) that WH and D items may have different lexicalization ranges in one and the same language.
The following may illustrate the point stated in (i). The Norwegian wh-item hvor may lexicalize PLACE and DEGREE, but none of the other functions. English how cannot lexicalize PLACE, but lexicalizes DEGREE and MANNER, but nothing more: to query for PROPERTY (understood as individual level predication), the item what … like must be used (What does she look like?). Dutch hoe on the other hand may lexicalize DEGREE, MANNER and PROPERTY, and in some Dutch dialects hoe can even be used noun phrase internally to query for KIND (Hoe een auto heb je?). The latter pattern is also found in varieties of Norwegian where a wh-item may lexicalize MANNER, PROPERTY and KIND, and even sometimes TOKEN (i.e. both What kind of car do you have and Which car is yours?). Cases of syncretism across TOKEN and PERSON are also found in some varieties, i.e. basically meaning that ‘which’ and ‘who’ are lexicalized by the same item.
The point in (ii) above is a fairly trivial observation: whereas English how may lexicalize both DEGREE and MANNER, the D-items this/that may only lexicalize DEGREE, not MANNER, cf. How did you fix the car? versus *I fixed the car this. And whereas Norwegian hvor is syncretic across PLACE and DEGREE, the corresponding D-items her/der can only lexicalize PLACE, not DEGREE, just like English here/there. Although trivial, the observation is potentially important for understanding how syncretism plays out differently in inflection and function words.
In my analysis of the data I will take a nanosyntactic approach where the continuum in (1) will be translated into functional sequences and whereby the syncretism patterns qua products of grammaticalization will be shown to follow from how exponents may extend their lexicalization ranges upwards in the syntactic tree.