Argument structure constructions in language contact


Hans C. Boas (The University of Texas at Austin)
Steffen Höder (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel)

Workshop description

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in multilingualism and language contact within Construction Grammar (see e.g. Hilpert & Östman 2016, Boas & Höder 2018). Particularly usage-based approaches such as Diasystematic CxG have been applied to various phenomena from different language contact scenarios, ranging from diachronic change to multilingual practices and second language acquisition (cf. the contributions in Boas & Höder forthc.). One phenomenon frequently observed in multilingual speech as well as in contact-related language change is that verbs (and other elements) occur in argument structures that differ from those used in monolingual speech. An example is the use of a Nominal Benefactive Construction (supposedly German in origin) by German-Danish bilinguals as in (1), as opposed to the Prepositional Benefactive Construction used in monolingual Danish (2) (Höder 2018):

     (1) Pia åbner ham
           P. Opens him

     (2) Pia åbner for ham
           P. opens for him

     ‘Pia opens the door for him.’

While argument structure constructions (ASCs) are a classic object in CxG (at least since Goldberg 1995), there has not been much research on ASCs in language contact specifically, even though ASCs often differ even between closely related and typologically similar languages, and findings on related phenomena (e.g. Colleman 2018) suggest that such differences play a role for the use and development of ASCs in contact situations.
The main research questions to be addressed by this workshop include the following:

  1. What happens in situations in which the languages in contact have similar and/or different types of ASCs? Is one type of ASC more likely to be borrowed or code-switched than other types of ASCs? Why?
  2. How do the typological differences between languages influence that types of ASCs that can be borrowed? Is it possible to establish some type of borrowing hierarchy of ASCs similar to that of more general hierarchies such as the one proposed by Thomason & Kaufmann (1988)?
  3. What types of diasystematic ASCs do we find in different language contact situations? Is it possible to establish typological predictions about particular types of emerging diasystematic ASCs based on the typology of languages in contact?
  4. What role do specific grammatical categories such as case play in the borrowing of ASCs in language contact situations?
  5. Do newly emerging ASCs in situations of language contact adhere to the same semantic restrictions as those ASCs in the original donor language? How can these restrictions be modeled using semantic frames?
  6. To what degree do newly emerging diasystematic ASCs influence the use and distribution of existing ASCs in the recipient language?
  7. What can we learn about ASCs more generally based on the distribution and use of ASCs in language contact situations?