Micro-cues of language evolution: A Multifactorial model of V2 loss in Central Romance – MICLE
MIcro-Cues of Language Evolution (MICLE)
A Multifactorial model of V2 loss in Central Romance (MICLE)<br /><br />Why do languages change? This fundamental question is answered through the novel reconstructive method and multifactorial model proposed by this project. Through the analysis of the loss of Verb-second word order in calibrated corpora of Medieval French and Venetian, we expect to find correlatives grammatical micro-cues that account for grammatical structure, learnability and evolution.
General objective of the project
The objective of the MICLE project is to propose a new framework for the understanding of grammatical evolution by identifying micro-cues of language change on the basis of calibrated corpora. <br /> In order to achieve this, we deliver the analysis of the evolution of V2 word order in two closely related Medieval Romance languages, which demonstrates its correlation to co-determinant factors. This is realised through a calibrated corpus of extant prose texts from the same type, in Norman French and Venetian Italian, from the earliest available period. The methodological and conceptual objectives are broadcasted through a dissemination programme raising awareness of the paradigmatic-shifting nature of the resources, methods and analyses to different academic communities.
The methods used can be summarily described as follows.
- Application of data calibration to build a bilingual corpus of texts from the same types and the same regions over the Medieval period
- Selection, construction and fine-tuning of the tools into a workflow enhancing annotation success rates while minimising human intervention
- Deployment of the annotated corpus on a visualization solution, with the development of a user-friendly interface
- Alignment of data extraction practices capitalising on parallel annotation systems
- Quantitative and qualitative analysis of V2 rates and presumed micro-cues
The results of the the conceptual and methodological advances provide i. the comparative behavior and chronology of a major grammatical change in two closely related languages, ii. the identity, trajectory and degree of influence of the cues that promote these changes, iii. an assessment of the validity of a general causal model of word order change.
The high risks in assembling an annotated corpus of texts from specific types and regions for two languages over three centuries, and identifying and weighting some of the cues involved, bring about the high gains of optimising research methods and significantly furthering the understanding of grammatical evolution. Building synergy from the complementary expertise of both sites to develop a finer-grained conceptual framework, this project gets us one step closer to understanding how grammatical change is possible.
This project is outstanding in the following respects
-It provides a bilingual, calibrated, syntactically-annotated corpus over the Medieval period
-It gives open access to the resulting corpus and the tools used to realise it
-It develops mechanisms to reduce human intervention on text importation and annotation, and disseminates them
-It illustrates the highly aligned practices that we elaborate for comparative research into syntactic evolution across languages
-It conclusively demonstrates the conceptual validity of the micro-cue model analysis for V2 loss in two closely-related languages
-It defines new research questions to which the micro-cue model could be fruitfully applied
-Organisation of one international conference;
-At least four presentations at premier research events (e.g. Going Romance, LSRL, DIGS, ICHL);
-At least two papers in top journals;
-Broadcasting of resources, good practices and results via the websites, the Twitter and Facebook feeds, the training packs and the training sessions.
Why do languages change? How does a fully functional language like Latin evolve to become e.g. French or Italian? And how does the evolution of central characteristics such as word order illuminate the cognitive mechanisms that make language change possible? These fundamental questions are answered through the novel reconstructive method and multifactorial model proposed by this project. Going beyond the current routine research into language change that aggregates different text types from diverse regions to return irregular and elongated curves of change, our new Calibrated Method (CaM) controls for variation by selecting specific text types from given regions to identify stable testimonies of evolution. By excluding non-structural factors of variation, more regular curves of evolution are documented, and causal models can be formulated and tested. CaM is piloted through the systematic investigation of the loss of verb second (V2) word order that characterizes early French and Italian. One specific text type is investigated from the Normandy and Venetian regions for French and Italian from the earliest available texts to the 1550s. The examination in the extended bilingual annotated corpus, to be made publicly available, supports a novel multifactorial model (MuM) of language change. The idea is that multiple cues provided by related configurations make abstract grammatical characteristics like word order learnable (Lightfoot 2009): it follows that changes in these configurations impact the currency and distribution of the relevant word order. The cues that we select on the basis of the literature and of ongoing work are asseveration particle si and Object-Verb word order. Changes in behavior of these cues are predicted to prefigure the loss of V2 word as measured by quantitative and qualitative evolution of each phenomenon. Verification of the predictions of the model is achieved by identification of occurrences, annotation of their morphosyntactic properties and use of correlational statistical methods applied to rates of use across the period. The results of the MuM and CaM provide i. the comparative behavior and chronology of a major grammatical change in two closely related languages, ii. the identity, trajectory and degree of influence of the cues that promote these changes, iii. an assessment of the validity of a general causal model of word order change. The high risks in assembling an annotated corpus of texts from specific types and regions for two languages over three centuries, and identifying and weighting some of the cues involved, bring about the high gains of optimizing research methods and significantly furthering the understanding of language evolution. Building synergy from the complementary expertise of both sites to develop a finer-grained conceptual framework, this project gets us one step closer to understanding how grammatical change is possible.
Monsieur Pierre Larrivée (CENTRE DE RECHERCHE INTER-LANGUES SUR LA SIGNIFICATION EN CONTEXTE)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
CRISCO CENTRE DE RECHERCHE INTER-LANGUES SUR LA SIGNIFICATION EN CONTEXTE
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Help of the ANR 376,380 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: May 2021 - 36 Months