DLCE Workshop

8757 1486981912

DLCE Workshop "Language shift and substratum interference in (pre)history"

  • Beginning: Jul 11, 2017 09:00
  • End: Jul 12, 2017 18:00
  • Location: MPI SHH Jena
  • Room: Villa V14
  • Host: Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
  • Contact: schueck@shh.mpg.de

Invited speakers: John Peterson (University of Kiel), Sarah Thomason (University of Michigan), Lars Johanson (University of Mainz)

Organizers: Martine Robbeets, Susanne Maria Michaelis, Martin Haspelmath

Call for abstracts
Please send your one-page abstract to Martine Robbeets by March 1st, 2017

Notication by March 15, 2017

Workshop description

Language shift, a change whereby speakers abandon their previous native language in favor of a target language, is a common fact of linguistic life. In this process, the abandoned language becomes a substratum, i.e. an underlying historical stratum. Substratum interference, also called "imposition" (Van Coetsem 1988, 2000; Johanson 2002; Winford 2005, 2013), can be established when there are indications that the substratum influenced the target language as part of the process of language shift. According to Thomason and Kaufman (1988: 38) substratum interference results from "imperfective group learning during a process of language shift".

The majority of the literature on substratum interference deals with the result of recent shifts such as the Irish substratum in English or, of historically attested shifts such as the Gaulish or Basque substratum in Western Romance. Research on substratum interference in linguistic prehistory, however, is rather rare. Exceptions include the investigation of a non-Indo-European substrate in Indo-European (e.g. Salmons 1992, Polomé 1997, Schrijver 1997, Kroonen 2012); a non-Austronesian substrate in the Philippine Negrito languages (Reid 2013); a Khoisan substrate in Bantu (Gunnink et al. 2015) and a forager substratum from Kx'a and Tuu in Khoe-Kwadi (Güldemann forthcoming, 2008).

The goal of our workshop is to refine the existing methods for determining the effects of substratum interference in reconstructed languages and to apply the available methods to specific case studies of language shift in linguistic prehistory. We also welcome contributions on recently attested or historically attested language shift because investigating the extent to which more recent history can be taken as a model for the remoter past is among our key objectives.

The goal of our workshop is twofold, (i) to refine the concepts and methods for determining substratum interference on the basis of recently attested or historically attested language shift situations and (ii) to apply the refined concepts and methods to specific case studies of language shift in linguistic prehistory. We therefore welcome contributions that treat either substratum effects in historically attested or prehistorically unattested contact situations. The extent to which more recent history can be taken as a model for the remoter past is among our key objectives.

Issues to be addressed include, among others:

  • Motivation of language shift: Why do some languages wither and end up as substrata, while other languages thrive and spread successfully as superstrata? Which factors encouraged/impeded the speakers of the substratum to shift to the new language? What is the relative importance of economic, demographic and geographic factors vis-à-vis social factors?
  • Demography of language shift: Is the language shift the result of cultural diffusion,whereby a new language spreads to a pre-existing population? Is the shift triggered by population movement, whereby a new population spreads taking their language with them? Or, are both cultural diffusion and population movement involved?
  • Evidence of substratum interference: How can we determine the effects of substratum interference in a given (proto-)language? How can we distinguish between the effects of borrowing and substratum interference? Can we extrapolate our observations with regard to substratum interference in contemporary and historical cases to establish substratum interference in linguistic prehistory.
  • Propensity for substratum interference: Which parts of language are more easily affected by substratum interference than others? Do cases of substratum interference necessarily entail bilingualism?

  1. Güldemann, Tom (forthcoming). Changing profile when encroaching on huntergatherer territory: towards a history of the Khoe-Kwadi family in Southern Africa. In: Güldemann, Tom, Patrick McConvell and Richard Rhodes (eds.), Huntergatherers and linguistic history: a global perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  2. Güldemann, Tom. 2008. A linguist’s view: Khoe-Kwadi speakers as the earliest food producers of Southern Africa. In Sadr, Karim and François-Xavier Fauvelle-Aymar(eds.), Khoe-khoe and the earliest herders in Southern Africa. Southern African Humanities 20: 93-132.
  3. Gunnink, Hilde, Bonny Sands, Brigitte Pakendorf & Koen Bostoen 2015. "Prehistoric language contact in the Kavango-Zambezi transfrontier area: Khoisan influence on southwestern Bantu languages". Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 36(2): 193–232.
  4. Johanson, Lars 2002. Contact-induced change in a code-copying framework. In: Jones, Mari C. & Esch, Edith (eds.) 2002. Language change. The interplay of internal, external and extra-linguistic factors. (Contributions to the sociology of language 86.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 285-313.
  5. Kroonen, Guus 2012. Non-Indo-European root nouns in Germanic: evidence in support of the Agricultural Substrate Hypothesis. In: Grünthal, Riho & Kallio, Petri (eds.) A Linguistic Map of Prehistoric Northern Europe. (Mémoires de la Société Finno-Ougrienne 266.) Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura, 239–260.
  6. Polomé, Edgar 1997. How Indo-European is Germanic?. In: Rauch, Irmengard &Carr, Gerald (eds.) Insights in Germanic Linguistics II. Berlin: Moutin de Gruyter,197–206.
  7. Reid, Laurence 2013. Who are the Philippine negritos? Evidence from language. Human Biology 85: 329-358.
  8. Salmons, Joseph 1992. Northwest Indo-European vocabulary and substrate phonology. In: Pearson, Roger (ed.) Perspectives on Indo-European language, culture and religion. Studies in honor of Edgard C. Polomé, 1: Perspectives on Indo-European language, culture and religion. (Journal of Indo-European Studies Monograph 9.) McLean VA: Institute for the Study of Man, 265–279.
  9. Schrijver, Peter 1997. Animal, vegetable and mineral: some Western European substratum words. In: Lubotsky, Alexander (ed.). Sound law and analogy: papers in honor of Robert S. P. Beekes on the occasion of his 60th birthday. Amsterdam: Atlanta, 293–316.
  10. Thomason, Sarah Grey and Kaufman, Terrence 1988. Language contact, creolization, and genetic Linguistics. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  11. Van Coetsem, Frans 1988. Loan phonology and the two transfer types in language contact. Dordrecht: Foris.
  12. Van Coetsem, Frans 2000. A general and unified theory of the transmission process in language contact. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag, C. Winter.
  13. Winford, Donald 2005. Contact-induced change: Classification and processes. Diachronica 22(2): 373-427.
  14. Winford, Donald 2013. On the unity of contact phenomena: the case for imposition. In: de Feral, Carole (ed.) In and Out of Africa: Languages in Question. In Honour of Robert Nicolai. Leuven: Peeters, 43-71.