Two steps in the Evolution of
Language: Merge and
Grammaticalization
Elly van Gelderen
Arizona State University
[email protected]
ICHL 18, Montreal, 8 August 2007
Language Evolution: my aims
• Some background on what we know from
genetics, areal linguistics, etc.
• Discuss the two steps in the development
of the Computational System (CS)
• Argue that change is triggered by cognitive
processes
• Explain
the Macro-Cycle:
Synthetic Analytic
2
As well as some Micro-Cycles
Negative (neg):
neg indefinite/adverb > neg particle > (neg particle)
Definiteness
demonstrative > article > class marker
Agreement
emphatic > pronoun > agreement
Auxiliary
V/A/P > M > T > C
Clausal
pronoun > complementizer
PP/Adv > Topic > C
3
• What we know
– 50,000-150,000art/tools
– how people/languages spread: archeology
and language-gene connection
• What can areal linguistics and
reconstruction tell us?
– Nichols and WALS
– Greenberg
• What can (historical) syntax tell us?
4
First what we know
from other sources: migrations
5
MtDNA and Migrations
6
Areal Linguistics and Early Language?
Nichols, dependent marking: none in Africa, Australia, etc
7
World Atlas of Language Structures
8
Dryer’s map on Case
9
VO and OV
10
Reconstruction and Early
Language
• What works: general picture of migrations
but not the actual shape of the language
– Greenberg/Ruhlen
– Campbell (1988):”detrimental effect on the
field”, “misleads”.
• Therefore we need to look at syntax
for insight into evolutionary stages
11
Adam Smith, 1767
12
Some hypotheses on Proto-Language
• Like Smith, Newmeyer suggests that proto-languages may
have been inflectional (2000: 385, n 4)
• Bickerton 1990
fossils of proto-lg (aphasia/pidgin): no morphology; no PS
• Hauser, Chomsky, & Fitch 2002
FLB (CI-SM-Mechanisms for Recursion) – FLN
(Recursion)
• Chomsky 2005
Merge "`Great Leap Forward' in the evolution of humans"
13
What was missing in
Proto-language? Merge:
(1)Give orange me give eat orange me eat orange
give me eat orange give me you. (=Nim)
14
And grammaticalization:
15
Three separate systems?
symbolic
thematic
pragmatic(?)
+
sounds/vocabulary
+
merge and
grammaticalization
=
SEM
=
PHON
=
NS
16
From Proto-LgTo Lg:
• Merge
• Grammaticalization
Principles of Merge Economy lead to
grammaticalization:
Merge brought about the first step of
linguistic evolution but Cognitive Principles
(Chomsky’s `third factor’) were responsible
for further language evolution.
17
Grammaticalization =
Specifier to Head
Subject Cycle
a TP
DP
pron
b
DP
T’
T
VP
Urdu/Hindi, Japanese
c
TP
[DP]
pro
TP
T’
pron-T
VP
Coll French
T’
agr-T
VP
18
Specifier to Head
Specifier (je-il) to Head:
(1) Moi,
j’ai pas
vu
ça.
’I,
I haven’t seen that’.
(2) Et toi, tu aimes le rap?
(3) on voit que lui il n'apprécie pas tellement la
politique
one sees that him he not-appreciates not so the
politics
‘and it can be seen that he doesn’t appreciate
politics that way’. (LTSN corpus, p. 15-466)
19
Standard to Colloquial French
(a) Modification, (b) coordination, (c)
position, (d) doubling, (e) loss of Vmovement, (f) Code switching
(1)
(2)
(3)
et c'est moi qui ..
*Je et tu ...
*je lis et ecris
20
Doubling, loss of V-movement and
code switching
(1) une omelette elle est comme ça
Swiss Spoken
an omelette she is like this
(2) c'est que chacun il a sa manière de ...
Swiss Spoken
it is that everyone he has his way of
(Fonseca-Greber 2000: 335; 338).
(3) Alors pourquoi moi aussi je n'aurais pas le droit d'enfumer les
autres quelques minutes
dans un bar?
Then why me also I not-have not the right to fill-with-smoke the
others some minutes in a bar
(4)
(5)
tu
vas
où
Colloquial French
2S
go
where
nta tu vas travailler
Arabic-French
you you go work
(from Bentahila and Davies 1983: 313).
21
The Subject Cycle
(1) demonstrative > third person pron > clitic > agrmnt
(2) oblique > emphatic > first/second pron > clitic > agrmnt
Basque verbal prefixes n-, g-, z- = pronouns ni ‘I’, gu ‘we’,
and zu ‘you’.
Pama-Nyungan, inflectional markers are derived from
independent pronouns.
Iroquoian and Uto-Aztecan agreement markers derive from
Proto-Iroquoian pronouns
Cree verbal markers ni-, ki-, o-/ø = pronouns niya, kiya,
wiya.
22
English: in transition
(a) Modification, (b) coordination, (c) position,
(d) doubling, (e) loss of V-movement, (f) Code switching
Coordination (and Case)
(1)
Kitty and me were to spend the day.
(2)
%while he and she went across the hall.
Position
(3)
She’s very good, though I perhaps I shouldn’t say
so.
(4)
You maybe you've done it but have forgotten.
(5)
Me, I was flying economy, but the plane, … was
guzzling gas
23
Doubling and cliticization
(1)
(2)
(3)
(4)
Me, I've tucking had it with the small place.
%Him, he ....
%Her, she shouldn’t do that (not
attested in the BNC)
*As for a dog, it should be happy.
CSE-FAC:
uncliticized
I
2037
you 1176
he 128
cliticized
685 (=25%)
162 (=12.1%)
19 (=12.9%)
total
2722
1338
147
24
Loss of V-movement and Code
switching
(5)
(6)
(7)
(8)
What I'm go'n do?
`What am I going to do'
How she's doing?
`How is she doing‘
*He ging weg `he went away’ Dutch-English CS
The neighbor ging weg
25
Other instances of the
Head Preference Principle (HPP):
Be a head, rather than a phrase/specifier
Acquisition:
(1) those little things that you play with (Adam 4:10)
Lg Change:
(2) Relative pronoun that to complementizer
Demonstrative to article
Negative adverb to negation marker
Adverb to aspect marker
Adverb to complementizer (e.g. till)
26
DP Cycle
a.
DP
dem
D
D'

NP
b.
D'
D
art

c.
DP

(=HPP)
NP
N
DP
D'
D
^
NP
N
renewal
27
The Negative Cycle
XP
Spec
na wiht
X'
X
not > n’t
YP
…
through LM
28
Second kind of Grammaticalization:
Lexical > Functional/Late Merge
29
The preposition like as C:
Acquisition
(1) like a cookie (Abe, 3.7)
(2) no the monster crashed the planes down like this like that (Abe, 3.7)
(3) Daddy # do you teach like you do [//] like how they do in your school?
(Abe, 4.10)
Language change
(4) People have never been down and out like they are today
(5) So the other girl goes like: `Getting an autograph is like, be brave and
ask for it'. So I got it. I just went up to him and he like. `O.K ...
(6) 3on man is lyke out of his mynd (Dunbar Poems, xix, 19).
Other cases of Late Merge
Negative objects to negative markers
modals: v > ASP > T
VP > CP adverbials
To: P > ASP > M > C
30
After from P > C
(1)Fand þa ðær inn æþelinga gedriht swefan [æfter symble
found then there in; noble company sleeping after feast
(Beowulf 118-9)
(2)
[æfter þissum gefeohte] cuom micel sumorlida.
`after this fight, there came a large summer-force'
(Chronicle A, anno 871)
(3)
[Æfter þysan] com Thomas to Cantwarebyri
`After this, Thomas came to Canterbury'.
(Chronicle A, anno 1070)
31
(1)After that the king hadde brent the volum
(Wyclyf 1382, taken over in Coverdale 1535 and KJV
1611, from the OED).
(2) Aftir he hadde take þe hooli Goost (c1360 Wyclif De
Dot. Eccl. 22).
(3) After thei han slayn them (1366 Mandeville174).
Four stages:
PP
PP
PP (that)
P that
C
900 (Chronicle A) – present
950 (Lindisfarne) - 1600 (OED 1587)
1220 (Lambeth) - 1600 (OED 1611)
1360 (Wycliff) - present
32
A `too much work’ story:
CP
C’
C
…
PP
after
DP
33
From P > C (feature-wise)
PP
CP
P
after
DP
[u-phi]
[3S]
[ACC]
[uACC]
>
C
after
TP
(u-phi)
In English, no phi, but Germanic C-agreement.
34
From V > AUX
VP
TP
V
wolde
DP
>
[uCASE]
T
would
[ACC]
[phi]
[uphi]
VP
V
DP
[uphi]
35
Feature Economy: uF as perfection
Economy of Features
Minimize the interpretable features in the
derivation
a. Spec
>
Head >
zero
b. semantic > interpretable > uninterpretable
(phi on N)
(uphi on T)
This explains the cycles and where non-lexical
categories came from.
36
Aspect Cycle
a.
ASPP
b.
ASP‘
ASP
up

VP
V
AP
up
ASPP
ASP'
ASP
up

c.
VP
...

ASPP
ASP'
ASP
VP
V
AP
up
37
Perfective aspect
Cycle:
(1) adverb > affix > 0
One stage:
(2)a.
Elizabeth's accession allowed him to receive back his wife
(BNC-GTB938)
b. a husband who changed his mind to receive his wife back
without ceremony (BNC-HTX2122).
-
Pattern (a) has become more frequent in the recent period (Davies
2005), even with definite nominals:
In the 100-million British National Corpus, receive occurs nine times
in constructions such as (2a) and four times in constructions such as
(2b) (twice with a pronoun and twice with a DP)
-
The use of pronominal objects, typical for the first order, with these
verbs has gone down too.
38
Two other principles
Null hypothesis of language acquisition
A string is a word with lexical content
(Faarlund 2007)
Specifier Incorporation (SIP)
When possible, be a specifier if you are a
phrase/adjunct
(van Gelderen 2007)
39
Renewal at the end of the cycle
• Newmeyer 2006 notes that some
grammaticalizations from noun/verb to affix can
take as little as 1000 years, and wonders how
there can be anything left to grammaticalize if
this is the right scenario.
• Late Merge (Feature Economy), however,
provides an answer for what the source of the
replenishments are, namely lexical elements
from lower in the tree. There are also borrowings
and creative inventions through SIP.
40
New specifiers:
(1)
a laide de Dieu notre Seigneur, Qui vous
douit bonne vie et longue.
`With the help of God, our Lord, who gives
us a good and long life' (Bekynton, from
Rydén, p. 131).
(2)
be the grace of God, who haue yow in
kepyng
`by the grace of God, who keeps you'
(Paston Letters 410).
41
Conclusions
1
Evolution as Grammaticalization
After the introduction of Merge, the
emergence of syntax would have followed
the path that current grammaticalization
follows; one that children use. Cognitive
Economy Principles, from which
grammaticalization and language change
follow.
42
2
Thematic > Discourse
Chomsky (2002: 113) sees the semantic
component as expressing thematic as well
as discourse information. If thematic
structure was already present in protolanguage (Bickerton 1990), the
evolutionary change of Merge made them
linguistic. What was added through
grammaticalization is the morphology, the
second layer of semantic information.
43
3
“Language is a Perfect Solution
to Interface Conditions”
“the conflict between computational
efficiency and ease of communication” is
resolved “to satisfy the CI interface” (2006:
9).
That would mean an analytic stage is
preferred, but there is no evidence of that!
Therefore:
44
4
Analytic ↔ Synthetic
Cycle goes from (a) to (b) to (a) …
a) Movement links two positions and is
thereby economical (=synthetic) =
uninterpretable/EPP
b) Avoid syncretism; Iconicity is economical
(=analytic) = semantic and interpretable
features
45
Some References
• Bickerton, Derek 1990. Language and Species. Chicago: University
of Chicago Press.
• Carstairs-McCarthy, A., 1999. Origins of complex language. OUP.
• Chomsky, Noam 2002. On Nature and Language. CUP.
• Chomsky, Noam 2005. Three factors in Language design. Linguistic
Inquiry 36.1: 1-22.
• Chomsky, Noam 2006. Approaching UG from below. ms.
• Dryer, Matthew n.d. http://linguistics.buffalo.edu/people/faculty/dryer.
• Faarlund, Jan Terje 2007. to appear in EyÞórrson.
• Forster, Peter
http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/genetics/mtDNAworld/one.html.
• Gelderen, Elly van 2004. Grammaticalization as Economy.
Benjamins.
• Gelderen, Elly van 2007. The Linguistics Cycle. to appear in
EyÞórrson.
• Haspelmath, Martin et al. 2005. The World Atlas of Language
Structures
• Hauser, Marc, Noam Chomsky, & Tecumseh Fitch 2002. The Faculty
of Language: what is it, who has it, and how did it evolve? Science:
298: 1569-79.
46
• Kuczaj, S. 1976. -Ing, -s, -ed: A study of the acquisition of certain
verb inflections. University of Minnesota PhD.
• Newmeyer, Frederick 2000. On the Reconstruction of 'Proto-World'
Word Order. In Chris Knight et al (eds) The Evolutionary Emergence
of Language, 372-388. CUP.
• Newmeyer, Frederick 2006. What can Grammaticalization tell us
about the Origins of Language?. Abstract,
http://www.tech.plym.ac.uk/socce/evolang6/newmeyer.doc
• Nichols, Johanna 1992. Linguistic diversity in space and time. Univ
of Chicago Press.
• Piattelli-Palmarini, Massimo & Juan Uriagereka 2005. The Evolution
of the Narrow Faculty of Language. Lingue e Linguaggio, 1-52.
• Smith, Adam. 1767. The theory of moral sentiments. To which is
added a dissertation on the origin of languages. London [3rd ed].
• Tauli, Valter 1958. The Structural Tendencies of Languages.
Helsinki.
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