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IS-BILAT-Mobilitet Norge-USA /Canada

Parallel Development and Syntactic Reconstruction: Semitic as a Test Case

Awarded: NOK 0.12 mill.

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Project Period:

2012 - 2012


The project revolves around the analysis of parallel syntactic developments in the Semitic languages, with a view of arriving at a realistic model of linguistic reconstruction (for details, please see the attached project description). While "parallel dev elopment" has been used in comparative linguistics mainly in the realms of phonology and morphology, the project aims at transferring this analytical model to the realm of syntax.In terms of extant data and historical documentation, the Semitic language f amily has the longest historical depth, and being a relatively cohesive language family it offers quite a number of potential examples of historical development. A test case already dealt with by the visiting scholar, Professor Pat-El, is the development of adverbial subordination in various Semitic languages. Within the project, Professor Pat-El plans to extend this research to the following syntactic features in Semitic: * the development and re-development of the definite article; * the development of a a modality-based verbal negation system; and * the repeated development of the (shapes of the) perfect. The main thrust of the project consists in exploring to which degree syntactic changes due to parallel development are restricted and guided by a sha red structure. The visiting researcher (Professor Pat-El, Austin) and the local applicant (Professor Lutz Edzard, Oslo) will explore these questions during professor Pat-El's planned stay at the University of Oslo. We will also organize a local workshop w ith colleagues from Oslo and Bergen working in Arabic and Hebrew on related questions. The proceedings of this workshop will be published in due course.

Funding scheme:

IS-BILAT-Mobilitet Norge-USA /Canada