Université de Pavie (Italie) – Séminaires à partir du 31 mai 2017

Professor Sonia Cristofaro from University of Pavia (Italy) is the next invited professor of the Labex EFL.

You will find hereafter the detail of her lectures that will take place in May/June 2017 :



Venue : Délégation Paris Villejuif – Campus CNRS – 7 rue Guy Môquet – 94800 Villejuif – Salle Prune

Plan d’accès


Typology, diachrony and language description

Typologists usually identify synchronic cross-linguistic patterns, and account for these patterns independently
of how they actually developed in individual languages. Reference grammars are also usually synchronically oriented.

The general goal of this seminar is to show that individual patterns
are often best understood in terms of their diachronic origins. This has several consequences for
language description. First, reference grammars should try and provide as many clues as possible
on the origins of individual phenomena, for example through internal reconstruction. Also, linguists
often try to identify what grammatical categories best describe particular grammatical patterns. In
many cases, however, this is unnecessary, because these patterns reflect several distinct diachronic
processes, rather than some overarching grammatical category.

These issues will be illustrated through four case studies, to be discussed in as many lectures:

Lecture 1 - Unrealized states of affairs and "irrealis"  - Wednesday 31/05, 3-5pm

Several languages have been argued to have a grammatical category of irrealis, manifested in phenomena such as person marking, switch-reference,
negation, or the encoding of counterfactual and non-factual events. This category, however, is rather difficult to define, both cross-linguistically and

within individual languages. Based on cross-linguistic diachronic evidence, it will be shown that this is because the relevant phenomena are actually a result
of several distinct diachronic processes independent of some overarching grammatical category of irrealis.

Lecture 2: The origins of insubordination cross-linguistically -  Wednesday 07/06, 3-5pm

Insubordination is usually regarded as a phenomenon whereby a former subordinate clause comes to be used independently. Cross-linguistically,
however, insubordinate clauses can develop through a wider range of mechanisms than assumed so
far, and many clause types are actually compatible with different developmental mechanisms and
source constructions. Also, the various mechanisms are quite different in nature, and do not exclusively
apply to subordinate clauses. This suggests that insubordination might actually be a result of
several different processes pertaining to clause combining in general, rather than a unified process
specifically pertaining to subordination

Lecture 3: The origins of nominalizations cross-linguistically- Wednesday 14/06, 3-5pm

Nominalizations have mainly been investigated in a synchronic perspective. The available diachronic evidence about the development of
different types of nominalizations cross-linguistically poses some major challenges for traditional
assumptions about nominalization in general. Nominalization is usually regarded as special strategy
whereby some usually non referring expression is treated as a referring one. In many cases, however,
the distinguishing structural properties of individual nominalization types are a result of the original
structure of the source construction, rather than some special treatment of particular expressions.
This, however, need not be the case for all nominalization types. This suggests that traditional criteria
for nominalization do not actually capture a unified phenomenon, but rather a series of constructions
that originate through different mechanisms and are motivated in terms of different principles.

Lecture 4: The diachronic shaping of complementation patterns - Wednesday 21/06, 3-5pm

The cross-linguistic distribution of different types of complement clauses across different types of main verbs has been accounted for in terms of general principles such as the degree of semantic integration between the events being described and whether or not particular semantic features of the complement clause (time reference, participants) are predetermined. Cross-linguistic diachronic evidence suggests, however, that the role of these factors may be more limited than previously assumed. In many cases, particular types of complement clauses originate from the grammaticalization of highly specific source constructions, so what motivates their use with particular main verb types is rather the relative degree of semantic compatibility between these verbs and the source construction.

Preliminary readings

On the nature of grammatical categories : a diachronic perspective  –  ICI

Descriptive notions vs. grammatical categories : unrealized states of affairs and « irrealis »  –  ICI

Routes to insubordination : a cross-linguistic perspective  –  ICI

Complementation hierarchies and the development of complement constructions  –  ICI

Retrouvez les conférences de Sonia Cristofaro en vidéo ICI