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ven. 02/02/2018 Séminaire DTT - Conférence
Maïa Ponsonnet (U. Western Australia)
ISH - Ennat Léger

What changes when language shifts?
The expression of emotions in a creole language (Kriol, northern Australia)

In this talk I will present the results of my ASLAN postdoctoral project (2013-2015), with a view to compiling them in a monograph recently accepted by Routledge. In this work, I study the effect of language shift upon a specific semantic domain. To this effect, I compare the linguistic encoding of emotions in Dalabon (Gunwinyguan, non-Pama-nyungan, Australia, Evans, Merlan & Tukumba 2004; Ponsonnet (2014)) and in Kriol, the English-based creole that has replaced Dalabon and other local Australian languages in recent generations (Ponsonnet 2010; Schultze-Berndt, Meakins & Angelo 2013).

Dalabon and Kriol are used in the same cultural context, but their respective typological profiles stand in sharp contrast. We may hypothesize that these diverging grammatical structures trigger differences in the linguistic tools available in each language to describe and express emotions.

However, the overall observation – very nuanced in its details of course – is that the consequences of language shift, even in the case of typologically contrasted languages, should not be overestimated. The study shows that adopting a new language has little effect on semantic contents, and that speakers tend to circumvent grammatical differences. In the case under consideration, figurative representations of emotions are significantly modified by language shift, but speakers’ gestures suggest that this linguistic variation does not necessarily correlate with cognitive variation. Here these results will be organized under four themes: the lexicon, prosodic contours, evaluative morphology, and figurative representations of emotions.

Evans, Nicholas, Merlan, Francesca & Tukumba, Maggie. 2004. A First Dictionary of Dalabon. Maningrida: Maningrida Arts and Culture, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2010. “Brainwash from English”? Barunga Kriol speakers’ views on their own language. Anthropological Linguistics 52(2). 24.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2014. The language of emotions: The case of Dalabon (Australia). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Schultze-Berndt, Eva, Meakins, Felicity & Angelo, Denise. 2013. Kriol. In Susan M Michaelis, Matthew Maurer, Martin Haspelmath & Magnus Huber (eds.), The atlas of pidgin and creole language structures (APiCS), 241–251. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


mer. 14/02/2018 Atelier Histoire et Ecologie des Langues:
ISH-Andre Frossard

This talk addresses recent findings from my work on the historical linguistics of the Arawak language family, focusing on the issue of contact with non-Arawak languages. The results reported here illustrate how progress in the application of the comparative method allows one to sort out the effects of horizontal transmission from those of vertical inheritance in language change. Implications for our knowledge of the prehistory of these peoples are also drawn based on the patterns attested.

Though the close cultural interactions between the ancestors of the Terena, the southernmost Arawak group, and speakers of northern Guaicurú languages are well-known from anthropological and ethnohistorical sources, no study investigating the linguistic consequences of this contact has appeared in print yet (see Aikhenvald 2012: 94-95, for a plea for investigations on the matter). Carvalho (forthcoming, a) identifies many Terena nouns that lack clear Arawak cognates and succeeds in establishing contact etymologies for them, in each case tracing these nouns to source forms in northern Guaicurú languages. These presumed source forms, in turn, all have purely internal etymologies, being reflexes of Proto-Guaicurú etyma. The Guaicurú stratum of the Terena lexicon can be further characterized, first, formally, by the presence of certain word-final syllables that go back to classifiers/derivational suffixes of the source forms and, second, in semantic terms: most of the loans consist of phytonyms, fluvial zoonyms and names for bodies of water. These formal markers offer useful diagnostic traits for detecting additional Guaicurú loans in the language, while the semantic characteristics of this foreign stratum can be straightforwardly related, often in precise ways, to the status of Terena speakers as newcomers to the Upper Paraguay floodplains and to ethnohistorical data on their cultural interactions with their northern Guaicurú ‘hosts’.

For Resígaro, a language heavily influenced by contact with Bora, of the Bora-Muinane family (see Seifart 2011, 2012), investigations on its historical phonology reveal a complex situation (see Carvalho, forthcoming, b): while a split-merger involving a and ɯ can be safely established for this language’s history, the receiving phoneme, ɯ, cannot be traced back to any proto-phoneme and appears in the language’s inherited vocabulary only as a derived morphophonological variant. The correct analysis is, therefore, that ɯ, a vowel faithfully preserved in Bora loans, was borrowed in Resígaro along with the stock of lexical and grammatical morphemes of Bora origin and that only later did the split-merger take place. This constitutes the first demonstration of contact-induced change in Resígaro phonology and is entirely consistent with the hypothesis of Seifart (2011: 87) that Bora influence on Resígaro cannot be attributed to this language’s moribund status.


Aikhenvald, Alexandra. 2012. The Languages of the Amazon. Oxford University Press.

Carvalho, Fernando O. de. Forthcoming, a. Arawakan-Guaicuruan Language Contact in the South American Chaco. International Journal of American Linguistics (April/2018 issue).

____________. Forthcoming, b. Diachronic Split and Phoneme Borrowing in Resígaro. Canadian Journal of Linguistics (September/2018 issue).

Seifart, Frank. 2011. Bora Loans in Resígaro: Massive Morphological and Little Lexical Borrowing in a Moribund Arawakan Language. Cadernos de Etnolingüística, Série Monografias 2.

____________. 2012b. The Principle of Morphosyntactic Subsytem Integrity in Language Contact: Evidence from Morphological Borrowing in Resígaro (Arawakan). Diachronica 29 (4): 471-504.

ven. 16/02/2018 Séminaire DTT - Atelier Typologie sémantique
Clément Voirin (DDL)
ISH - Ennat Léger

A review of Michel Aurnague’s article How motion verbs are spatial: the spatial foundations of intransitive motion verbs in French (2011)

Research on motion verbs have always struggled with establishing classifications that succeed in representing the spatial semantic features of these predicates according to clear-cut and consensual linguistic criteria (cf. Ikegami, 1969; Talmy, 1985; Boons, 1987; Levin, 1993). These predicates can be characterized by various features related to dimensions of motion such as path (i.e. source, goal, direction), manner (e.g. speed, fear, vehicle) and (a)telicity) which often conflate together (e.g. escape (source+manner+telicity), alight (goal+manner+telicity), advance (direction+atelicity)). Such features have been largely highlighted by studies that examine motion verbs at the interface between semantics and syntax (cf. Gruber, 1965; Jackendoff, 1983, 1990; Talmy, 1985, 2000; Levin, 1993). The difficulty of analyzing these predicates mostly comes from the fact that they usually co-occur with other lexical and grammatical morphemes (e.g. satellites, adpositions, case markers) to construe the meaning of motion (cf. Sinha & Kuteva, 1995). The lack of consensus on the definitions of spatial features (i.e. place, location, path, manner, direction) and the difficulty of understanding how different features interact together have led to classifications of motion verbs that are either too general (cf. Talmy, 1985) or too heterogeneous (cf. Ikegami, 1969).

Using Aurnague’s theoretical framework (2011) and following his analysis (but see also Boons (1987), Aurnague & Stosic (2002), Stosic (2002, 2007, 2009)), we will focus on the spatial features underlying the meaning of French intransitive verbs of motion. In the first part of this talk, we will look at some semantic-syntactic tests that are useful for distinguishing path verbs and manner verbs. In the second part of the talk, we will look at the lexical-semantic structure of path verbs to investigate the spatial and aspectual criteria that distinguish them.


AURNAGUE, M. 2011. How motion verbs are spatial: the spatial foundations of intransitive motion verbs in French. Lingvisticae Investigationes 34(1): 1-34. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

AURNAGUE, M. & STOSIC, D. 2002. La préposition par et l’expression du déplacement: vers une caractérisation sémantique et cognitive de la notion de “trajet”. Cahiers de Lexicologie 81: 113-139.

BOONS, J.P. 1987. La notion sémantique de déplacement dans une classification syntaxique des verbes locatifs. Langue Française 76: 5-40.

GRUBER, J.S. 1965. Studies in lexical relations. PhD dissertation, M.I.T.

IKEGAMI, Y. 1969. The semological structure of the English verbs of motion. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University. JACKENDOFF, R. 1983. Semantics and cognition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press.

JACKENDOFF, R. 1990. Semantic structures. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press.

LEVIN, B. 1993. English verb classes and alternations: a preliminary investigation. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press.

SINHA, C. & KUTEVA, T. 1995. Distributed Spatial Semantics. Nordic Journal of Linguistics 18: 167-199.

STOSIC, D. 2002. Par et à travers dans l’expression des relations spatiales : comparaison entre le français et le serbo-croate. PhD dissertation, University of Toulouse-Le Mirail.

STOSIC, D. 2007. The prepositions par and à travers and the categorization of spatial entities in French. In M. Aurnague, L. Hickmann & L. Vieu (eds.), The categorization of spatial entities in language and cognition, Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 71-91.

STOSIC, D. 2009. Comparaison du sens spatial des prépositions à travers en français et kroz en serbe. Langages 173: 15-33.

TALMY, L. 1985. Lexicalization patterns: semantic structure in lexical form. In T.Shopen (ed.), Linguistic Typology and Syntactic Description: Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon (vol. 3). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 57-149.

TALMY, L. 2000. Toward a Cognitive Semantics: Concept Structuring Systems (vol. 1). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.


ven. 02/03/2018 Journal Club Dendy Présentation de Noemi De Pasquale Spatial metaphors we live by. Everyday transfers in language and thought.

Based   on   certain   assumptions   of   Western   philosophy,   metaphors   have   been traditionally  described  as  stylistic  devices  employed  in  literary  and  poetic  contexts  in order  to  fulfil  aesthetic  purposes.  Since  the  second  half  of  the  20th  century,  however, Cognitive  Linguistics  has  been  challenging  this  classical  view  by  reinterpreting  metaphors as  the  basis  of  the  whole  human  conceptual  system,  a  matter  of  thought  and  action  rather than a “mere”  figure  of speech. Ever  since  the  publication  of  the  first  important  study  in  the  field,  i.e.  Lakoff  & Johnson's   Metaphors  we  live  by  (1980),  on  which  this  presentation  is  largely  based, metaphor  has  become  one  of  the  most  fascinating  subjects  of  contemporary  research  in linguistics,  cognitive  sciences, philosophy  and  psychology, among  others. This  talk  aims  to  draw  a  preliminary  sketch  on  the  Contemporary  Theory  of    Metaphor (cf.  Lakoff  &  Johnson  1980;  Lakoff  1987,  1993;  Forceville  &  UriosAparisi  2009,  inter  alia), with  special  reference  to  the  transfers  from  the  source  domain  of  Space  and  Motion  to more  abstract  target  domains (e.g. Sound,  Time,  Emotions). After  an  introduction  on  the  features  and  operating  principles  of  conceptual  metaphors, I  will  present  some  spacerelated  patterns,  and  discuss  their  physical  and  experiential grounding  in  the  light  of  the  Embodied  Cognition  Theory  (cf.  Johnson  1987;  Lakoff  & Johnson 1999,  inter  alia). This  presentation  has  the  threefold  purpose  of  (1)  providing  an  introduction  on Cognitive  Metaphor,  (2)  examining  some  of  the  most  pervasive  spatial  metaphors  in  our everyday  language,  and  (3) preparing  the  ground  for  further  research in this domain. 

Johnson,  M.  (1987).  The  body  in  the  mind:  The  bodily  basis  of  meaning,  imagination,  and  reason. Chicago: University  of Chicago  Press. 
Lakoff,  G.  (1987).  Women,  fire,  and  dangerous  things:  What  categories  reveal  about  the  mind. Chicago: University  of Chicago  Press. Lakoff,  G.  (1993).  The  contemporary  theory  of  metaphor.  In  A.  Ortony  (Ed.),  Metaphor  and thought  (pp. 202251). 2nd  ed. Cambridge: Cambridge  University  Press.
Lakoff,  G.  &  Johnson,  M.  (1980).  Metaphors  We  Live  By.  Chicago:  University  of  Chicago Press.
Lakoff,  G.  &  Johnson,  M.  (1999).  Philosophy  in  the  Flesh:  The  Embodied  Mind  and  Its  Challenge to  Western  Thought.  New  York: Basic.
UriosAparisi,  E.  &  Forceville,  C.  J.  (2009).   Multimodal  Metaphor.  Berlin:  Mouton  de Gruyter.


ven. 02/03/2018 Séminaire DTT - Atelier Typologie sémantique
Frank Seifart (DDL)
ISH - salle Ennat Léger

Dressing and undressing events cross-linguistically

In this talk I present ongoing work in collaboration with Sara Mitschke and Hans-Jörg Bibiko, which explores the linguistic categorization of events of putting on and taking off clothes and accessories. This study is based on responses of 5 speakers each from 30 different languages to stimulus material consisting of 32 short video clips. The main results of this study are: Firstly, languages vary drastically in the degree of linguistic differentiation of these events, which may be related to typological characteristics such as verb- vs. sattelite frame). Secondly, putting-on events are far more differentiated than taking-off events, reflecting the source-goal asymmetry. And thirdly, tight vs. loose fit is an important distinction in this semantic domain.



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