The 44th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages will be held at Western University in London, Ontario from May 2-4, 2014.
LSRL44 Special Sessions
The Nature of Nominal Categories: Mass vs. Count Nouns in Romance (Organized by Anna Moro and Ivona Kucerova)
- There is a growing body of evidence relating the emergence of gender to the nature of nominal categories, such as animacy or number. Romance dialects present an exciting ground for such an investigation because of the rise of a “third” gender category associated with mass nouns and other number-less phrase such as infinitival nouns, be it in traditional dialects or in a contact environment. Yet, the connection is not a straightforward one because the overall gender-number system plays out rather differently in Italo-Romance versus Ibero-Romance dialects. The underlying intuition present in the current literature is that certain semantic and structural properties must be in place for the rise of the “third” gender category to take place, but as far as we can tell its exact nature is not well understood. The questions that arise include but are not limited to:
-Is there a universal hierarchy of nominal features that determine under what conditions a new category can emerge?
-Or does the surface variation reflects a genuine language-specific featural set up, restricted only by more general structural and semantic properties such as phasehood or semantic types?
-Is the same or similar type of feature variation attested in other languages, or is it specific to Romance?
Romance languages as minority and/or heritage languages
Heritage speakers, or early bilingual speakers of minority languages (typically 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants), have not received much attention in linguistic research until recently. Most of these studies have shown that heritage speakers attain different degrees of command of their first or family language, but on average they do not reach native-like attainment in adulthood. There is a longer tradition of research on minority languages, for example, minority French in Ontario, which examines minority language restriction as one factor in language variation.
The purpose of this special session is to bring together researchers who work on Romance heritage languages and on Romance languages acquired in minority contexts to compare and contrast results of studies on these understudied populations. This encounter will contribute to the recent body of research on heritage languages, allowing for crosslinguistic comparisons. Submissions on the acquisition of Romance languages as minority languages not in contact with English are particularly encouraged. Some of the theoretical topics that may arise in this session include:
- The issue of transfer from the majority language.
- -Directionality of change. Do minority and heritage languages tend to simplification?
- -The causes of non-native-like achievement. Incomplete acquisition vs. attrition vs. qualitatively different input.
- -Language attrition in 1st (and subsequent) generation immigrants.
- -To what extent do long-established minority languages and immigrant heritage languages have similar or distinct linguistic patterns?
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