Séminaire Terrains, Analyse et COmparaison des Langues (TACOL)

The next session of our TACOL seminar will take place on Monday, May 22 at 2:30 pm, on site (meeting room 311, CNRS Villejuif Campus) and on Zoom.


We will have the pleasure to listen to Maria Khachaturyan (postdoc, University of Helsinki)..

Title of presentation:

Contact-induced variation in reflexivity marking: convergence, divergence and social meaning


It is commonly assumed in language contact studies that languages spoken by multilinguals become more like one another, which leads to long-term convergence between the languages. This does not lead to a sweeping linguistic uniformity, however: there is still an incredible linguistic diversity across the world’s languages. This diversity is partly due to an opposite process — the process of diversification of neighboring languages which was called “neighbor opposition” (Evans 2019).
However, while the results of convergence and diversification are rather well studied, little is known about the complex and contradictory process of convergence and divergence and the role of social factors in it.
In this talk, I present my ongoing study of language contact between the Mano and the Kpelle languages of Guinea and show how, despite the potential of convergence, languages remain distinct. Focusing on variation in reflexive marking, an additional question I raise concerns differences in domains affected by convergence and divergence.
Specifically, I discuss whether contact-induced variation in grammatical patterns can have social meaning on a par with linguistic features with concrete exponents, such as phonetic, morphological or lexical variables.