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In search of stability. Pieter Muysken Centre for Language Studies Radboud University Nijmegen. Contact-induced language change. Languages change when their speakers also speak another language However : Some languages change faster than others

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In search of stability

In search of stability

Pieter Muysken

Centre forLanguage Studies

Radboud University Nijmegen

Contact induced language change

Contact-induced languagechange

Languages changewhentheir speakers alsospeakanotherlanguage


  • Somelanguageschangefasterthanothers

  • Somecomponents of languagechangefasterthanothers



What factors contribute to the

Stability of languages?

Stability of components of language?

Why study stability


Links languagechange to cross-linguisticpriming

Allowspotentialinsightintodeep time relationships

With thanks to the languages in contact group www ru nl linc

Withthanks to the Languages in Contact group (

Suzanne AalberseMargot van den Berg

JoshuaBirchallBob Borges

Rik van GijnHaraldHammarström

PabloIrizarri v. SuchtelenSimon van de Kerke

Gerrit Jan KootstraOlgaKrasnoukhova

Linda van MeelNeele Müller


FrancescaRomanaMoroHülya Sahin


Sponsors and partners

Sponsors and partners

Radboud University Nijmegen

European Research Council

NetherlandsOrganizationfor Research (NWO)

Royal NetherlandsAcademy of Sciences (KNAW)

Max PlanckInstituteforPsycholinguistics


Leiden University


In search of stability

STUDIES ON CONTACT: Convergence of disciplines and scenarios?



the organized fashion

in which multilingual speakers,

in certain social settings,

deal with the various


in their repertoire

Maintenance, shift, creation, ... (Thomason & Kaufmann)

Contradictory earlier results







some, butlimitedconvergence

macro/deep time


In search of stability


TMApre-verbal particlesverbal suffixes

Evidentialityweakly grammaticalizedstrongly grammaticalized

Arg Realizationzero marking; few prepositionsrich case marking

fixed orderfree order

bos-nan no a miranosbiz-igor-me-di-niz-mi?

2-PL NEG PA see 1PL1PL-AC see-PA-NEG-2PL-Q

‘Didn’t you see us?’‘Didn’t you see us?’

Multilingual processing: Papiamentu and Turkish in contact with Dutch

- experience with these communities; existing corpora

- both show strong internal cohesion and relatively high language maintenance

- languages are maximally different

In search of stability

Dativestructures in Dutch and Papiamento


  • Prepositional object (PrepO):‘De vrouw geeft de bal aan de man’

    ‘The womangives the ballto the man’

  • Double object (DblO):‘De vrouw geeft de man de bal’

    ‘The womangivesthe man the ball’


  • Double object (DblO):‘E muhétadunae homber e bala’

    ‘The womangivesthe man the ball’

Video clip description baseline experiment

Video clip description: Baseline experiment


[In Papiamento, using the depicted verb]


* [The stimuli are movie clips from Rochester University]

Priming experiment

Priming experiment

1. PRIME (DblO condition)


“De jongen geeft het meisje de mand”

‘the boy gives the girl the basket’ (DblO)




Match? (Yes / No)

[In Papiamento, using the depicted verb]

Priming experiment1

Priming experiment

1. PRIME (PrepO condition)


“De jongen geeft de mandaan het meisje”

‘the boy gives the basketto the girl ’ (PrepO)




Match? (Yes / No)

[In Papiamento, using the depicted verb]

In search of stability

Results: Baseline experiment on Aruba

DO structure is almost always used (98.2 %)


In search of stability

p = .006

Results: Priming experiment on Aruba


(De jongen geeft de sleutel aan het meisje)

(De jongen geeft het meisje de sleutel)

Baseline describe ditransitive movie clips in papiamento without priming

Baseline:Describe ditransitive movie clips inPapiamento (without priming)

Papiamento speakers on Aruba:

98.2% Double Object used; 1.8% Prepositional Object used.

Baseline describe ditransitive movie clips in papiamento without priming1

Baseline:Describe ditransitive movie clips inPapiamento (without priming)

Baseline Papiamento speakers in the Netherlands:

  • 87% Double Object used; 13% Prepositional Object used.

  • Variation between participants about twice as high as Aruba.

  • Variation stimulates / lies at the foundation of change

Conclusions production of ditransitives in papiamento

Conclusions Production of ditransitives in Papiamento

  • General tendency to use DO-structure

    • But more at Aruba than in NL

    • More variation in NL

  • Cross-linguistic priming influenced syntactic choices

    • Recent exposure to other language changes one’s own language behavior

    • Priming as a potential mechanism of contact-induced language change

  • Priming effect in NL influenced by age and length of stay in NL

    • Higher cross-language flexibility in younger people

    • Length of stay  onset exposure to Dutch  language contact

Next 1 world paradigm anticipatory eye movements

Next 1: world paradigm, anticipatory eye movements

e bala na e muchamuhé

E muchahombertaduna

e muchamuhé e bala

  • Whenpeoplehear ‘taduna’  what object willthey look at?

Next 2 studies with other variables

Next 2: studies with other variables

Amañalo mi bay playa

Tomorrow FUT I go beach

Morgengaiknaar het strand.

Tomorrow go I to the beach.

Ideal results shallow time

Idealresultsshallow time

Clear understanding of the conditions on, and effects of, syntactic priming

Grammatical component factors

Similarity factors

Markedness factors

Type of bilingualism factors

Directionality factors

Priming and change

Methods for finding stability



Meta-analysis of language contact processes in real time

Meta-analysis of historical data forindividuallanguage families

Phylogenetic modeling on large data sets (e.g. WALS)

Heritage language communities

Heritage language communities

Spontaneous & video elicitation paradigms:

Chilean SpanishTurkish

Moroccan ArabicPapiamentu

Chinese languagesSranan Creole

MalaySarnami Hindustani

Ideal results micro settings heritage language communities

Ideal results micro settings (heritage language communities)

Clear understanding of the degree to which and way in which heritage languages in the Netherlands change

Different linguistic structures and typological factors, such degree of word complexity

Time depth community

Age on onset, bilingual competence

In search of stability

Case study: Languagediversity in Surinam: Late colonial period to now (1880 – 2010)




Maroon Creole



Dutch, Guyanese, Portuguese, Kejia

Sranan Tongo

Functions of multilingualism by domain

Functions of multilingualism by domain

TV, Radio

National politics

Music: lovers rock

Local politics

Family: same generation


Informal: friends generation



Music: roots reggae, traditional

Family:-1/ -2 generation


Informal: friends

Formal politics

Family:+1/ +2 generation

Family:+ 1 generation


Informal: colleagues


Symbolic politics

Contact with institutions

Neigbournet analysis

Neigbournet analysis

So far 81 features

So far 10 languages

Kikongoearly SrananEnglish

Ewegbecont. SrananDutch

Gungbecont. SaramaccanPortuguese


Ideal results meso settings

Idealresultsmeso settings

Clearunderstanding of the ways in which the various languages of Suriname have influencedeachother

Respective different roles of Dutch (superstrate) and Sranan (adstrate)

Different linguisticstructures

Typological factors

Bilingualcompetence factors

Time depth

External stability factors

Externalstability factors

Strength of transmission between G(i) > (Gj)

Number of L2 learners

Amount of bilingual usage (strong priming)

Register differentiation

Focussing versus diffusion

Language ideology and emblematic

role of differences

Internal stability factors lexical borrowability

Internalstability factors:lexical borrowability

Syntactic markers > discourse markers (que ‘that’ > pues‘then’)

Sorphology> lexicon (diminutive > adjective)

Core vocabulary > non-core vocabulary > animal and plant names > technical vocabulary (hand > computer)

Articles > verbs, adpositions > nouns, adjectives > names

Low numbers > high numbers (two > million)

First, second person pronouns > third, fourth (inclusive) person pronouns

Basic colours > peripheral colours (white > orange)

Phonological organization > phonetic realization (/i/ : /e/ contrast > velar r)

Internal stability factors van hout and muysken 1995

Internalstability factorsVan Hout and Muysken (1995)

Frequency (weak)

-Paradigmatic organization in L(recipient)

-Inflection L(donor)

+Peripherality in L(donor)

N name < adv compconjexcl neg P < A auxcop V < num Q wh < dem det p+det posspronpron-cl

Internal stability factors

Internal stability factors


+ Pagel, M., Atkinson, Q. D., and Meade, A. (2007) Frequency of word-use predicts rates of lexical evolution throughout Indo-European history.- for language contact: donor/recipient

Systemic cohesion (?)

automatized interlocking processing systems

Interface grammar-pragmatics

Lexicon versus syntax

Lexicon versus syntax?

Traditional perspective: Items versus rules

New with Word grammar, Construction Grammar, etc. : Languages as inventories of {items}, where {items} are form/meaning mappings

Lexicon versus syntax 2

Lexicon versus syntax 2

Winford, consensus view: “… certain domains or components of linguistic structure tend to be more stable and resistant to change than others. For instance, phonology and grammar (and to some extent semantics) are more stable, while vocabulary is less stable.”

Challenge settlement 12k bp

Challenge settlement ~12K BP

South America (Terrence Kaufman 1990)

~ 450 languages

~ 118 genetic units

48 groupings

70 isolates/unclassified

In search of stability

time depths:


Paya - Chibcha~6100 YBP

OtherCAmerican~4300, 3700, 1000 YBP

Central Chibchan~5100 YBP

Eastern Chibchan~4200 YBP



time depths:


internal splits 700 YBP at latest

3.2-3.7 million BPland bridge

14000-11000 BPhumans, changed vegetation

9000-7000 BPdomesticated crops added

7000-4500 BPmaize, manioc; materials

4500 BPbetter pottery

2000 BPgold-working

2500-1300 BP chiefdoms established

general impressionsmall populations

long-term stable settlement

great ecological diversity

genetic researchlow genetic diversity

many common haplotypes

Puzzle for sa settlement 12 k bp

Puzzlefor SA: settlement 12 K BP

(A)Why so many language families (110+) , and why so many isolates? What is the distribution both of larger families and of isolates?

(B)Why is there areal spread of specific typological patterns, some characterizing most of the continent as a whole, and some individual parts of the continent?

(C)What can we learn about the relation between the issues in (A) and (B) from the perspective of language history and language contact ?

Ideal results for deep time

Idealresultsfordeep time

Broadtypological patterns in different groups of SAILs (South American Indian Languages)

Possibleinterpretation in terms of ‘deep’ linguistic families

Possibleinterpretations in terms of arealconvergence

Possibleinterpretations in terms of specific contact scenarios

Specificity versus stability scales

Specificity versus stabilityscales

the specificity continuum: {items} in language can be arranged on a specificity scale, from specific content words [maison ‘house’] to binary grammatical features [P NP]

? Vs. the stability continuum: the most specific {items} change most rapidly, the least specific items much more stable

Scale of items

Scale of {items}?

  • Domesticated and ritual plant and animal vocabulary

  • General vocabulary

  • Swadesh list of words

  • hihi lists of frequent words from the Swadesh list (McMahon et al. 2005)

  • 41 word list in the Wichman and Holman ASJP project

  • Grammatical morpheme inventories

  • Notional categories realized as morphemes

  • Binary features (phonology, morphology, syntax)

  • Broad typological features

Greenhill et al 2010

Greenhill et al. (2010)

WithinbothAustronesian and Indo-Europeanlexical data fit traditional trees betterthantypological data

Dunn on deep time papuan

Dunn ondeep time Papuan

748 Dunn et al. 2008

The results of the structural phylogenetic analysis of the Papuan languages, however, suggests a possible historical signal.



  • 2011: 377In short, linguistic geography, rather than phylogenetic identity, determines typological clusters.21 IE languages, with between 50 and 128 features coded

Consensus re dunn et al

Consensus re: Dunn et al.?

Structural features canrevealgenealogicalrelationships

Areal influences play a role, particularly locally

Example central america

Example: Central America

Nahua (< Uto-Aztecan)Otomanguean







Features constenla 1991 data base

Features Constenla (1991) data base

39 Phonological (vowel contrasts)

42 Syntactic (orders, distinctions, categories)

81 in total

Ca. 80 languages

Selected by the author on the basis of expert knowledge of the languages of the area

Evaluatio n


Main families recognized

Some misclassifications

Internal structure of families not well identified

Broad areal effect

Scenario dependence

Scenario dependence?

Historicallinguistics: looking at lineagesindependently of their histories

Sociolinguistics: looking at specificprocessessituated in time

Psycholinguistics: looking at individualbehavior in experimental settings

Methodological issues

Methodological issues

The better we understand the scenario, the more preciseourresults

Deep time: littleunderstanding of scenarios

Deep time: very low populations, hence less possibility of contact

Original sample with the help of mily crevels

Original sample (with the help of MilyCrevels)

55-60 languages

Genealogical spread (some families representedwith 2-5 members)

Geographical spread (Andean and Amazonian)

Quality of descriptions

In search of stability

NNet results: NP + Arg + TAM-E + Arawakan (75 languages, 612 independent features)

Key notions


1: areal pattern (spread of features not directly explainable through vertical transmission)

2: horizon (date beyond which relationships are no longer directly visible)

3: event (specific date based on external evidence)

4: stability (tendency for a feature to change through time)

Knowledge sources 1

Knowledgesources 1

Historicalinformation + currentsituation

Detailed information about languages, their circumstances, spread, scenarios, etc.

Horizon ca. .5k BP

Knowledge sources 2

Knowledge sources 2

ASJP findings (Wichmann et al. 2011 + online)


Shallow time horizon ca. 3-4k BP

  • Many (17) shallow families recognized

  • Someshallow families (Arawakan, Tupi-Guarani) recognized without a few outliers

  • Onedeepfamily (Pano-Tacanan) recognized

  • Severaldeep families (Macro-Gê, Tupian, Huitoto-Boran) notrecognized as groupings.

  • Somepairingsindependentlyconfirmed in recent literature (Katukinan + Harakmbet and Arikapu/Jabuti + Kaingang/Xokleng (Macro-Ge))

Knowledge sources 3

Knowledgesources 3

Reconstructed families

More limited in scope (not all families reconstructed)

Furtherhistoricalreach, horizon max. ca. 8k BP (Afro-Asiatic even deeper)

Possible ‘homeland’ information

Knowledge sources 4

Knowledgesources 4

Distribution patternsstructural features

Subject to muchinterpretation and discussion

Deep time structural horizon 12k BP

Settlement events 1

Settlementevents 1

I~12k BP

A small (< 10) number of groups moved into the continent and quickly dispersed. Other groups may have followed at later dates but at less speed.

Evidence i

Evidence I:

  • Archeological data support settlements across the continent dated around 11 K BP

  • Genetic data suggest a relatively uniform, possibly quite small, initial population

  • Some groups (e.g. Chibchan) obviously came at a later date.

Stage i features

Stage I features

Characteristic of all or most of the continent

Highly stable

What are the features with strong continental bias?

Settlement events 2

Settlementevents 2

II12-8 K BP

These groups settled in different parts of the continent and then fractured into small bands. These bands developed separate identities, strengthened by separate lexical systems, but kept interacting on a local level, through exchange of goods and sexual partners.

Evidence stage ii

Evidence Stage II:

  • Evidence for low rates of lexical borrowing in hunter-gatherer societies

  • Evidence for areal spread or retention of specific features

  • Small groups cannot sustain themselves without exchange with other groups

Stage ii features

Stage II features

Characteristic of particular regions

May parallel lexical borrowings

Which features have a regional spread, and not directly linked to a known expansion?

Settlement events 3a

Settlementevents 3A


As technology developed, and plants were domesticated and developed into agricultural crops, different groups started expanding and invading territories previously occupied by other groups. Sometimes there was population displacement, but some cultural expansions also took place without large groups of people moving.

Stage iiia features

Stage IIIA features

Associated with particular early expansions and the surrounding influenced languages.

Can be reconstructed for a particular language family

May be accompanied by lexical borrowings from the expansion language



  • The appearance of domesticated food cultivars in the archaeological record. The spread of these cultivars would also correspond to the same social relationships that allow for the spread of language, genes and other technology, such as you those you attribute to Stage II.

  • The expansions of specific larger language families can be documented, with estimated starting dates

  • Specific cultural practices, words, and grammatical features can be documented and traced to dispersal languages

  • Possible expansion of Macro-Jê.

Settlement events 3b

Settlementevents 3B

IIIB 4-0.5k BP

Corresponds to what is known as the 'Amazonian Formative', a period with a marked increase in intensive food production (evidenced by the appearance of ceramic traditions, landscape 'domestication' and anthropogenic soils) and thus sedentism.



Sedentism and the resulting population growth would lead to different social dynamics than two hunter-gather groups in contact.

All of the other large families migrated on a large scale only during Stage 3B.



How and whendid the expansion of the major families proceed?

What was their homeland?

Withwhich smaller and families and isolatesdidtheyinteract?

Which features are associatedwiththeirexpansion?

Settlement events 4

Settlementevents 4

V. < .5 K BP

The Spanish and Portuguese conquest and colonization of the continent had a number of effects:

Decimation and fracturing of populations, disappearance of entire groups

Displacement of populations and languages

Promotion and subsequent further expansion of certain languages as línguageral or lengua general

Creation of new contact zones through reducciones or reserves

C aveat


It is important to consider those stages not as solid and mutually exclusive blocks disposed in a line (with only one direction), but as bubbles often co-existing in the same time span: from 8kBP to 0.5kBP (Stages IIIA and IIIIB), for example, while the agriculture was profoundly changing the social dynamics in the eastern Amazon, large parts of the western Amazon may have been still experiencing a scenario much more alike to Stage I or II.

This cumulative perspective (Stage I, II and III coexisting after 8 K BP in different parts of the continent) could help to account for part of the diversity we encounter today.

Links between horizons and events

Links betweenhorizons and events

The role of discourse 1

The role of discourse 1

Syntactic elements > discourse markers (que ‘that’ > pues‘then’)

Discursive and perspective-taking patterns, like evidentiality

Topicalization and focalization orders

Personal interaction, such as clusivity distinctions and politeness

The role of discourse 2

The role of discourse 2

Discourse factors in bilingual speech

  • Balkan-typebilingualcontacts

  • After shift (e.g. substratepragmaticbleaching)

  • Bidirectional in code-switching

    MAT – discourse markers

    PAT – pragmatic markers

Initial results


Broadareal distribution formanynominal features (OlgaKrasnoukhova)

Strong broad areal patterns (east-west) for argument marking (Joshua Birchall)

No areal patterns (very scattered distribution) for TAME marking (Neele Mueller)

Very specific areal patterns for subordination (Rik van Gijn)



Noun Phrase Structure

Subordination < < TAME < Discourse patterns

Argument marking

Language contact 1

Language contact 1

Prestige borrowing. A number of high prestige languages pass on words to neighboring languages with lower prestige. In addition to words, in some cases affixes are passed on this way, and occasionally phonetic properties. The vocabulary may involve political functions, (higher) numbers, cultivated food or animal names, etc.

Language contact 2

Language contact 2

Trading partner borrowing. Related to this, and not easy to distinguish from it, may be patterns of long distance borrowing of names for household goods, plants and animals, and possibly words for rituals. Here there need not be a hierarchy, and the eff3ects may be less local.

Language contact 3

Language contact 3

Metatypy. In some cases a particular language A is dominated by another one B. Typically, the speakers of A are also fluent in B, but not vice versa, and numerically and economically A is less strong than B. Over time, metatypy may occur: A starts adopting more and mor structural features of B, but not vice versa.

Language contact 4

Language contact 4

Substrate. When large numbers of speakers of A shift to language B, they may import all kinds of semantic and pragmatic distinctions into their version of B, without overtly transferring structural features or many words from A into B.

Language contact 5

Language contact 5

Bilingual convergence. When many speakers of two adjacent languages A and B are bilingual, there may be frequent code-switching between the languages, and in addition, the languages may start showing structural convergence. Depending on the patterns of multilingual usage in the community, this convergence may be bi-directional or even multi-directional.

Language contact 6

Language contact 6

Koineization. When speakers adopt a second language without strong native speaker input, they may simplify and restructure their second language.

Stability 1

Stability 1

Computedon the basis of the WALS database



Stability 2

Stability 2

Family linked





Stability 3

Stability 3





The distribution of grammatical properties of the south american indigenous languages

The distribution of grammatical properties of the South American Indigenous Languages

  • JoshuaBirchallArgument Realization

  • Rik van GijnSubordination

  • OlgaKrasnoukhovaNounPhrase

  • Neele MüllerTAME

  • LorettaO’ConnorThe ChibchaSphere

  • Simon van de KerkeThe Andes

  • AnaVilacyGalucioThe TupianLanguages

  • SwinthaDanielsenThe Arawakanlanguages

  • Pieter MuyskenLanguage contact

  • HaraldHammarströmAreal patterns

Original questions

Original questions


[1] Whichpropertiescharacterize the SAILs?

[2] Can we establishdeep time relations?

[3] Can we discernpatterns of areal distribution and contact?

[4] Can we distinguishbetween different components of grammarwith respect to [1]-[3] (in particular TAME versus argument realization)?

[5] Can we takeinto account specific contact scenarios?

[6] Use of phylogenetictechniques

Scenario dependence1

Scenario dependence?

Historicallinguistics: looking at lineagesindependently of their histories

Sociolinguistics: looking at specificprocessessituated in time

Psycholinguistics: looking at individualbehavior in experimental settings

Methodological issues1

Methodological issues

The better we understand the scenario, the more preciseourresults

Deep time: littleunderstanding of scenarios

Deep time: very low populations, hencelittle contact

Large historical picture

Largehistorical picture

12K BP initialsettlement and dispersal

3K BP expansions




2K BP densesettlement

5C BP Iberianinvasions

decline, restructuring, lingua francas

Spread features

Spread features

Structural SA features general

Spurious lexical items

Large scale flora, fauna, crop, ritual items

→ Specific areal spread of structural features and sound patterns

Comparative method does not yield satisfactory results when

Comparative method does not yield satisfactory results when:

Time depth is too large

Expansion is slow and leads to homogeneous contact zones/continua

Other processes lead to rapid lexical replacement and grammar regeneration

Subsequent contact processesdisturblinear relations

Sharpening our perspective


MilyCrevels/Hein van der Voort: The Guaporé-Mamoré

SergioMeira: The Tupi-Caribrelationship

AnaVilacyGalucio (Belem): The Tupianlanguages

SwinthaDanielsen (Leipzig): The Arawak languages

Simon van de Kerke (Leiden): The Andes

Love Eriksen (Lund): GIS mapping of archeology, culture, history of Amazon

Summary np

Summary NP

1. Features which are characteristic of the Andes in comparison with other areas:

No gender distinctions in personal pronouns

No gender distinctions within the NP

No classifiers

No class of inalienable nouns

No nominal tense

Adjectives are nouny

Modifier – head word order for all types of modifiers

2. Features which cannotbe assigned to any particular area:

Inclusive/exclusive distinction in personal pronouns

Number distinction in personal pronouns

Occurrence of number marking in the NP

Obligatoriness/optionality of number marking in the NP

Locus of possession marking in the NP

Word order in the NP, with general preference towards the modifier-head order with demonstratives, possessors, and numerals. And head-modifier for adjectives (irrespective of the word class)

3. Features which are more characteristics of Guapore-Mamore, Northwest Amazon, Central Amazon, Chaco:

Presence of inalienable nouns (present almost exceptionally in these 4 areas)

Presence of classifiers

Adjectives are often encoded by stative verbs (exception: Chaco)

Nominal tense

4. Some of the languages included in the Pie de Monte areas (Peruvian, Ecuadorian, Bolivian) have the following 2 features, whereas others do not:


Inalienable nouns

Argument realization coded by joshua birchall

Argument Realization (coded by Joshua Birchall)


  • Constituentorder

  • Verbal markingofarguments

  • Core andoblique case marking

  • Valencychangingoperations

Verb marking split intransitivity

Verb Marking: Split Intransitivity

Coded parameters: S alignment (base), semantics, derivational morphology

Guaraní (tupi; Mithun 1999)

  • Semantic conditioning

  • Sa=A (accusative base)


    ‘I got up’


    'It will carry me off.'

    Inactive stems [-event, +/- control]


    ‘I am sick’

Tiriyó(carib; Meira 1999)

  • Morphological conditioning

  • Sunderived=O, Sderived=A (ergative base)


    ‘I grew up notbesidemymother’


    ‘She raised me’

    Detransitivized stems:


    ‘I amworking (making)’

Core case marking

Core Case Marking

Coded parameters: S/A/O marking, affixation to free pronouns, inanimate marking

Hup (nadahup; Epps2008)

  • 0-marking

  • Pronoun affixing

  • No inanimate marking


    3sg=child.mother-obj=rep 3sghit-decl

    ‘He beat his wife, it’s said.’ (p.167)



    ‘Having tried to bite them, it’s said…’ (p.167)

    Yikánmǒyhid bi -píd-íh

    over.therehouse 3pl make-dist-decl

    ‘There they built a house... (p.177)

Valency change causatives

ValencyChange: Causatives

Coded parameters: strategy, transitive base, causee treatment, indirect, sociative

Emerillon (tupi; Rose 2003)

Directcausativebo- : intransitive base


dog 3.I-sit-contideo 3.I-caus-sit

‘Thedogsits’‘He set it down’ (p.358)

(In)directcausative –okal : transitive base, causeeexpressed as objectofpreposition -pe



‘He had us breakthehouse’ (p.362)

Sociativecausative(e)lo-: intransitive base



‘He madeyouswim (withhim)’

Tense aspect mood modality evidentiality tame coded by neele m ller

Tense, Aspect, Mood/Modality, Evidentiality (TAME) (codedbyNeele Müller)


4 sections

  • Tense 5 questions

  • Aspect8 questions

  • Mood/ Modality14 questions

  • Evidentiality8 questions

    Total:35 questions

    Applicableto: main non-negative, non-interrogative clauses (exceptionsinclude imperative, purposive, irrealis)

In search of stability



morphological/ grammaticalmarking

  • i.e. affixes, clitics, particles, repetition

  • No: adverbs, periphrasis, time lexemes, stemsubstitution, verbs, ...

    andindependent (main) non-negative, non-interrogative clauses (exceptionsinclude imperative, purposive, irrealis)

In search of stability


Tense: absolute tenses (present, past, future) andremoteness

LexicalAspect, but not Aktionsart, e.g. continuousmarking but not durative

Mood/Modality: realis/ irrealis, imperative, intention, frustrative etc.

Evidentiality: firsthandinformation, reportative, inferenceetc.

In search of stability


Sample questions:

1.1 Ispresenttensemarkedmorphologically?

2.1 Isrealismoodmarkedmorphologically?

3.1 Isperfectivemarkedmorphologically?

4.1 Isfirsthandinformationmarkedmorphologically?

Tame challenges

TAME challenges

Interrelations betweencategories


  • e.g. a perfectivemarkermayinherentlyencodepast


  • Fusion ofcategories, e.g. TenseandEvidentialitycoded in the same paradigm

Subordination strategies coded by rik van gijn

Subordinationstrategies (codedby Rik van Gijn)


Learned [i.e. non-predictable] pairings of form [includingabsractphrasalpatterns] withsemantic or discourse function (Goldberg 2006: 5)

Independent variables semantically defined relation types (following Cristofaro 2003)

Dependent variables formal aspects of constructions encoding these relation types

form-meaning pairs

Aspects covered in the questionnaire

Aspects covered in the questionnaire:

Word order within the NP

Agreement within the NP

Nominal number

Noun categorization devices

Attributive possession

Spatial deixis, with a focus on semantic features in adnominal demonstratives

Temporal distinctions in the NPs.

Example of a question on nominal number

Example of a question on nominal number:

Question: Do nouns have a morphologically marked singular vs. plural distinction?

Answer options:

a=[no plural marking],

b=[marked by a prefix],

c=[marked by a suffix],


i=[morphological plural with no method primary]

Sub-question: What is the occurrence of nominal plural?

Answer options:

a=[obligatory only on human nouns],

b=[obligatory only on animates],

c=[optional on all nouns],

d=[obligatory on all nouns]

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