Here we use computational Bayesian phylogenetic methods to generate a phylogeny of Tungusic languages and estimate the time-depth of the family. Our analysis is based on a dataset of 254 basic vocabulary items collected for 21 Tungusic doculects. Our results are consistent with two previously proposed basic classifications: variants of the Manchu-Tungusic and the North-South classification. We infer a time-depth between the 8th century BC and the 12th century AD. The application of Bayesian phylogenetic methods to Tungusic languages is unprecedented and provides a reliable quantitative basis for previous estimates based on classical historical linguistic and lexicostatistic approaches.
In contrast to grammaticalization studies of lexical verbs changing into auxiliaries, the realm of semantic changes associated with lexical verbs is an understudied area of historical semantics. We concentrate on the emergence of verbs of success from more semantically concrete verbs, uncovering six conceptual metaphors which all co-occur with non-canonical encoding of subjects in Indo-European. Careful scrutiny of the relevant data reveals a semantic development most certainly inherited from Indo-European; hence, we reconstruct a dat-‘succeeds’ construction at different levels of schematicity for Proto-Indo-European, including a novel reconstruction of a conceptual metaphor, success is motion forward, and the mapping between this metaphor and the verb-class-specific argument structure construction. Hence, this article offers a systematic analysis of regularity in semantic change, highlighting the importance of predicate and argument structure for lexical semantic developments.
Udi is a Nakh-Daghestanian (Lezgic) language spoken in northern Azerbaijan, which has undergone many contact-induced changes due to the influence of unrelated languages of the eastern Caucasus (Indo-European, Turkic). A recent change is the borrowing of the conditional enclitic =sa from Azerbaijani (Turkic). In Udi, this marker can combine with finite indicative tenses, resulting in a series of derived ‘realis’ conditional mood forms. The clitic is also used to create an indefiniteness marker, which derives indefinite pronouns from interrogative ones. Prior to the borrowing of the Azerbaijani morpheme there was no comparable marker in Udi available to fulfil these functions, while other Lezgic languages employ their own native grammatical means for the same functions (conditional clitics or auxiliaries). The acquisition of the borrowed clitic has thus made Udi more and not less structurally isomorphic with respect to the other languages of the Lezgic branch. This paper develops a description of functions related to the domain of conditional mood on various stages of the history of Udi, and suggests a diachronic scenario for the borrowing of the Azerbaijani marker =sa.
Non-configurationality is a linguistic property associated with free word order, discontinuous constituents, including NPs, and null anaphora of referential arguments. Quantitative metrics, based both on local networks (syntactic trees and word order within sentences) and on global networks (incorporating the relations within a whole treebank into a shared graph), can reveal correla- tions among these features. Using treebanks we focus on diachronic varieties of Ancient Greek and Latin, in which non-configurationality tapered off over time, leading to the largely configurational nature of the Romance languages and of Modern Greek. A property of global networks (density of their spectra around zero eigenvalues) measuring the regularity in word order is shown to be strengthened from classical to late varieties. Discontinuous NPs are traced by counting the words creating non-projectivity in dependency trees: these drop dramatically in late varieties. Finally, developments in the use of null referential direct objects are gauged by assessing the percentage of third-person personal pronouns among verb objects. All three features turn out to change over time due to the decay of non-configurationality. Evaluation of the strength of their pairwise correlation shows that null direct objects and discontinuous NPs are deeply intertwined.
Over the last few decades, the widespread diffusion of digital technology and the growing ease of transferring information via the Internet have made an enormous amount of textual data available to scholars. The vastly increased availability of pri- mary sources has radically changed the everyday life of scholars in the humanities, who are now able to access, query and process a wealth of empirical evidence in ways not possible before.
This development also encompasses ancient languages. The first aim in the eighties and the nineties was to digitize textual data and make them available on CD-ROM and online. Later, the need for linguistic annotation gave rise to projects aimed at building corpora enhanced with increasingly complex layers of metalin- guistic information, such as part-of-speech (PoS) tagging and syntactic annotation, opening the field to precise queries for particular linguistic phenomena. We are now at a stage where several of these syntactically annotated corpora, or treebanks, have reached a mature state, providing representative selections of texts for several diachronic stages of a given language. These new resources allow for a new approach to diachronic studies of syntactic phenomena where scholars previously had to content themselves with empirical work on a much smaller scale.
This volume brings together a set of papers that report research on various diachronic matters supported by evidence from diachronic treebanks for different languages, i.e., treebanks that provide data for a language across several historical stages. We show that diachronic treebanks can provide considerable methodological advances in terms of greater transparency and better ways of exploiting frequently problematic source material, thus allowing us to shed new light on vexed topics.