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mar. 07/03/2023 [Séminaire DiLiS] - Discourse phenomena channel the diffusion of grammatical phenomena: the case of wishes and optatives
MSH-LSE, salle Elise Rivet (hybride)
Conférence de :
  • Nina Dobrushina

dans le cadre DILIS

Nina Dobrushina (University of Tübingen, visiting scholar)

There is a hypothesis that the diffusion of grammatical categories can be mediated by the spread of discourse phenomena which leads to the super-diffusion of grammatical phenomena (Beier et al. 2002, De Vries 2006, Nikitina 2017, Epps & Michael 2017, Mithun 2008). In this talk, I will contribute to this discussion by focusing on the grammatical category of the optatives (a form which expresses a wish or a hope of the speaker that something would happen) in the languages of Daghestan, and the discourse phenomenon of wish formulas (blessings and curses) in the same area. I will show that inflectional optatives is the only linguistic phenomenon shared by all indigenous families of the Caucasus apart from ejective consonants and ergative alignment. In Daghestan, Russia’s most multilingual republic, optatives bear apparent features of areal spread. They are found in the whole area including genealogically unrelated languages; they may use old (non-analyzable) and new (transparent) marking within the same family and even branch; one language can have several optatives with the same function. High diffusibility of the optative and abundance of other wish expressions points to a special scenario of language contact. I believe that inflectional optatives are an inherited feature of Nakh-Daghestanian languages, whose maintenance and diffusion is supported by the discourse practice of blessings and curses, thus showcasing the link between structural linguistic phenomena and cultural environment. In this study, together with the spread of the optatives, I also consider the spread of wish formulas (such as Have a nice trip!) across Daghestan, thus contributing to the study of the interaction of language and culture through discourse practices.
Beier, C., Michael, L., & Sherzer, J. (2002). Discourse forms and processes in indigenous lowland South America: An areal-typological perspective. Annual Review of Anthropology, 31(1), 121-145.
De Vries, L. (2006). Areal pragmatics of New Guinea: thematization, distribution and recapitulative linkage in Papuan narratives. Journal of Pragmatics 38, 811--828.
Epps, P., and L. Michael. (2017). The areal linguistics of Amazonia. The Cambridge handbook of areal linguistics: 934-963.
Mithun, M. (2008). Borrowed rhetorical constructions as starting points for grammaticalization. Constructions and language change: 196-230.
Nikitina, T. (2017). Discourse reporting in African storytelling. ERC Starting Grant proposal (grant agreement No 758232).


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