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mar. 30/01/2018 Club sandwich DENDY
ISH Ennat Leger

Présentation d'un article (a définir) sur les approches neuroscientifiques dans l'étude des interactions langagieres


ven. 02/02/2018 Séminaire DTT - Conférence
Maïa Ponsonnet (U. Western Australia)
ISH - Ennat Léger

What changes when language shifts?
The expression of emotions in a creole language (Kriol, northern Australia)

In this talk I will present the results of my ASLAN postdoctoral project (2013-2015), with a view to compiling them in a monograph recently accepted by Routledge. In this work, I study the effect of language shift upon a specific semantic domain. To this effect, I compare the linguistic encoding of emotions in Dalabon (Gunwinyguan, non-Pama-nyungan, Australia, Evans, Merlan & Tukumba 2004; Ponsonnet (2014)) and in Kriol, the English-based creole that has replaced Dalabon and other local Australian languages in recent generations (Ponsonnet 2010; Schultze-Berndt, Meakins & Angelo 2013).

Dalabon and Kriol are used in the same cultural context, but their respective typological profiles stand in sharp contrast. We may hypothesize that these diverging grammatical structures trigger differences in the linguistic tools available in each language to describe and express emotions.

However, the overall observation – very nuanced in its details of course – is that the consequences of language shift, even in the case of typologically contrasted languages, should not be overestimated. The study shows that adopting a new language has little effect on semantic contents, and that speakers tend to circumvent grammatical differences. In the case under consideration, figurative representations of emotions are significantly modified by language shift, but speakers’ gestures suggest that this linguistic variation does not necessarily correlate with cognitive variation. Here these results will be organized under four themes: the lexicon, prosodic contours, evaluative morphology, and figurative representations of emotions.

Evans, Nicholas, Merlan, Francesca & Tukumba, Maggie. 2004. A First Dictionary of Dalabon. Maningrida: Maningrida Arts and Culture, Bawinanga Aboriginal Corporation.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2010. “Brainwash from English”? Barunga Kriol speakers’ views on their own language. Anthropological Linguistics 52(2). 24.

Ponsonnet, Maïa. 2014. The language of emotions: The case of Dalabon (Australia). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Schultze-Berndt, Eva, Meakins, Felicity & Angelo, Denise. 2013. Kriol. In Susan M Michaelis, Matthew Maurer, Martin Haspelmath & Magnus Huber (eds.), The atlas of pidgin and creole language structures (APiCS), 241–251. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


mer. 14/02/2018 Atelier Histoire et Ecologie des Langues:
ISH-Andre Frossard

This talk addresses recent findings from my work on the historical linguistics of the Arawak language family, focusing on the issue of contact with non-Arawak languages. The results reported here illustrate how progress in the application of the comparative method allows one to sort out the effects of horizontal transmission from those of vertical inheritance in language change. Implications for our knowledge of the prehistory of these peoples are also drawn based on the patterns attested.

Though the close cultural interactions between the ancestors of the Terena, the southernmost Arawak group, and speakers of northern Guaicurú languages are well-known from anthropological and ethnohistorical sources, no study investigating the linguistic consequences of this contact has appeared in print yet (see Aikhenvald 2012: 94-95, for a plea for investigations on the matter). Carvalho (forthcoming, a) identifies many Terena nouns that lack clear Arawak cognates and succeeds in establishing contact etymologies for them, in each case tracing these nouns to source forms in northern Guaicurú languages. These presumed source forms, in turn, all have purely internal etymologies, being reflexes of Proto-Guaicurú etyma. The Guaicurú stratum of the Terena lexicon can be further characterized, first, formally, by the presence of certain word-final syllables that go back to classifiers/derivational suffixes of the source forms and, second, in semantic terms: most of the loans consist of phytonyms, fluvial zoonyms and names for bodies of water. These formal markers offer useful diagnostic traits for detecting additional Guaicurú loans in the language, while the semantic characteristics of this foreign stratum can be straightforwardly related, often in precise ways, to the status of Terena speakers as newcomers to the Upper Paraguay floodplains and to ethnohistorical data on their cultural interactions with their northern Guaicurú ‘hosts’.

For Resígaro, a language heavily influenced by contact with Bora, of the Bora-Muinane family (see Seifart 2011, 2012), investigations on its historical phonology reveal a complex situation (see Carvalho, forthcoming, b): while a split-merger involving a and ɯ can be safely established for this language’s history, the receiving phoneme, ɯ, cannot be traced back to any proto-phoneme and appears in the language’s inherited vocabulary only as a derived morphophonological variant. The correct analysis is, therefore, that ɯ, a vowel faithfully preserved in Bora loans, was borrowed in Resígaro along with the stock of lexical and grammatical morphemes of Bora origin and that only later did the split-merger take place. This constitutes the first demonstration of contact-induced change in Resígaro phonology and is entirely consistent with the hypothesis of Seifart (2011: 87) that Bora influence on Resígaro cannot be attributed to this language’s moribund status.


Aikhenvald, Alexandra. 2012. The Languages of the Amazon. Oxford University Press.

Carvalho, Fernando O. de. Forthcoming, a. Arawakan-Guaicuruan Language Contact in the South American Chaco. International Journal of American Linguistics (April/2018 issue).

____________. Forthcoming, b. Diachronic Split and Phoneme Borrowing in Resígaro. Canadian Journal of Linguistics (September/2018 issue).

Seifart, Frank. 2011. Bora Loans in Resígaro: Massive Morphological and Little Lexical Borrowing in a Moribund Arawakan Language. Cadernos de Etnolingüística, Série Monografias 2.

____________. 2012b. The Principle of Morphosyntactic Subsytem Integrity in Language Contact: Evidence from Morphological Borrowing in Resígaro (Arawakan). Diachronica 29 (4): 471-504.

ven. 16/02/2018 Atelier Typologie sémantique
ISH - Ennat Léger


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