Wrapping up 2022: more talks and publications

I haven’t been posting regularly about recent talks and publications, so here are a few more highlights from the second part of 2022:

  • Colleagues and I published a paper on training RRG parsers on low resource languages, including Daakaka data.
  • I gave a talk at the awesome linguistics department in Cologne, with a few more thoughts about wordhood in Daakaka.
  • I was also invited to the phenomenal UT Texas (which curiously expands to University of Texas at Austin) department of linguistics, which combines two of my favourite subjects, linguistic fieldwork and formal semantics. This gave me a chance to get back to some of my ideas about modal semantics.

Out now: Expressing possibility in two Oceanic languages

We can often choose between more basic, highly grammaticalized, ways to express a given meaning, and more verbose ways of doing so. Thus, in English, we may say “Brenda can catch the train” or “it is possible that Brenda will catch the train”, with quite similar interpretations. In my article with Anna Margetts, we argue that expressions of possibility in Daakaka and Saliba-Logea correspond to it is possible that in terms of their syntactic complexity, but to can in terms of their paradigmatic properties, frequencies and meaning. Look at the publication here or download the preprint.

Habituality in four Oceanic languages

Our article (with Ana Krajinović, Anna Margetts, Nick Thieberger and Valérie Guérin) is out now and currently available for free here. In this article, we talk about habitual aspect in four Oceanic languages and demonstrate how it is (or isn’t) typically expressed. Reduplication and imperfective aspect play a particularly prominent role, sometimes in combination with each other.

Now out: Dozing eyes and drunken faces

 In many languages of the world, emotions and medical conditions are not attributed to an individual, but to a certain body part. For example, instead of saying “I am sad”, you may have to say something along the lines of “my heart is heavy” in many languages. In these cases, the meaning of “being sad” does not reside in a single word. “Heart” alone does not express sadness, and neither does “heavy”. Only the combination of the two can express this concept. The question is then how such languages form expressions that refer to an abstract emotion such as “sadness” . And the answer is that there are different strategies. One strategy is to say something like “the heaviness of the heart”. The Oceanic language Daakaka, however, uses a different strategy. Here, an emotion concept is expressed by a structure such as “the heavy heart”. This paper investigates these differences and their implications. Get it here or ask me for the preprint.

Out now: Indefinites in Daakaka (Vanuatu)

There are two indefinite articles in the Oceanic language Daakaka, TUSWA and SWA. Like weak NPIs or unspecific indefinites in many other languages, TUSWA is excluded from positive assertions about the episodic past or present. In this paper, I try to locate them within the cross-linguistic space of indefinites and NPIs and sketch out an approach to account for their differences.

Read the full paper here.