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Dialectes décisifs, langues prototypiques

du 29 février 2012 au 2 mars 2012

Colloque international

Lieu : Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, Maison de la Recherche, 4 rue des Irlandais, Paris 5e
Organisateurs : Jean Léo Léonard (UMR 7018), Sylvie Archaimbault & Christian Puech (UMR 7597), Frank Alvarez-Pereyre (UMR 7206  & FR 2559, Typologie et Universaux Linguistiques), Roland Noske (UMR 8163, Lille 3) et Antonella Gaillard-Corvaglia (UMR 7018)
UMR 7018 - Laboratoire de phonétique et phonologie (LPP)
Contact : Antonella Gaillard-Corvaglia / Jean Léo Léonard

Programme [PDF - 50 Ko]

Résumés / abstracts (liste complète)  [PDF - 338 Ko]

Résumé 1 [PDF - 99 Ko]

Résumé 2 [PDF - 13 Ko]




Jean Léo Léonard & Rachid Ridouane (UMR 7018, Paris 3-CNRS), Sylvie Archaimbault & Christian Puech (Laboratoire d'histoire des théories linguistiques - UMR 7597), Roland Noske (UMR 8163, Lille 3).

29 février-2 Mars 2012
29th of February-2nd of March 2012,
IUF & Paris 3 University

Résumé en français :
La linguistique moderne a certes hérité ses modèles de la fertile confluence entre la grammaire gréco-latine, la grammaire de Port-Royal et la grammaire comparée du XIXe siècle. Au-delà de ces sources historiques et de ces cadres conceptuels, elle n'a cessé, surtout au cours du XXe siècle, de s'alimenter de découvertes sur les structures des langues du monde réalisées sur des langues de statut dialectal, ou dialectalisées, souvent à partir des données d'un dialecte particulièrement éminent, soit par le hasard du travail de terrain, soit en fonction d'une connaissance des structures les plus originales ou représentatives d'un type linguistique, au sein de familles de langues non indo-européennes. Le mazatec, le yawelmani, le chamorro, le dyirbal et tant d'autres langues, dont certaines actuellement vulnérables ou en danger, mais aussi des langues démographiquement très représentées et d'une indéniable vitalité, comme le tachelhit (ou chleuh), ont apporté des données d'un très haut degré de pertinence, changeant le cours ou la face de la linguistique mondiale, dans des domaines comme la phonologie, la morphologie ou même la syntaxe. Le présent colloque s'intéressera à ces "dialectes éminents", qui ont eu un impact décisif sur les théories linguistiques, en particulier pour la phonologie et la morphologie, flexionnelle ou lexicale. Les communications porteront sur l'historiographie de ces rencontres décisives entre linguistes empiristes ou théoriciens et langues ou variétés dialectales aux structures originales, qui s'avérèrent heuristiques pour ouvrir de nouveaux horizons à la pensée linguistique du XXe siècle. Les contributions d'ordre théorique seront bienvenues, au même titre que les analyses portant sur les formes et les modalités de grammatisation de ces langues.

Call for Papers

Descriptive linguistics relies on reliable surveys of languages, most of which happen to be dialect varieties included in a genetic continuum, such as Mazatec within Popolocan (Eastern Otomanguean) or Yawelmani (Yokuts, Penutian). Studies  on specific dialects had an enormous influence on the development of lihphonological theory.
Huautla, a central dialect of Mazatec, provides a good example. Eunice & Kenneth Pike's 1947 paper on Immediate Constituents in Mazatec, which is generally considered as a major breakthrough in modern phonology for the emergence of syllabic constituency models, is based on the the Huautla dialect. The dialect is also the basis for Pike's chapter 8 of Tone Languages (1948), which provided a thorough analysis of tone and inflectional patterns in Mazatec..Both contributions had an enormous impact on linguistics, and have been quoted ever since in hundreds of further contributions on syllable structure and tone patterns in inflectional systems.
A second example is provided by the Penutian languae of Yokuts, more particularly the dialect of Yawelmani Kisseberth's dissertation on Yawelmani phonology (1969, cf. Noske 1993) proved seminal for underspecification theory in, as well as for other fields of linguistics, such as syllabic theory and templatic morphology.
A third example is Warlpiri (an Australian lanuage belonging to the Ngarkic languages, Pama-Nyungan family) suggested the importance of notions such as (non )configurationality (Legate 2002).
Yet another example is Mohawk (Iroquoian), which has been considered as a prototypically incorporative language since Baker's major essay on incorporation (Baker 1988).
To a certain extent, one can say that these languages, regardless of their number of speakers, have highly contributed to the advancement of linguistic science in the 20th Century.
The Distinguished Dialects, Prototypical Languages Conference (DDPLC) will focus on languages and dialect varieties which one could call distinguished dialects/languages. The meeting will also give an opportunity to revisit data, and to address a basic question for contemporary and typological linguistics: what have linguists done with empirical evidence from distinguished dialects/languages?
Mazatec provides a striking example of this challenge: although the language is still widely spoken (over 200 000 speakers), with over 8 typologically fairly different dialects (Gudschinsky 1948), there are few studies with fresh, up to date data available since the late forties and early eighties. Data on a dialect spoken 18 km north of Huautla - San Jeronimo Tecoatl (see Kirk 1966) - show a considerable neutralization of most complex features described in Pike & Pike 1947 and revisited in Golston & Kehrein 1998. However, this epiphenomenon is hardly taken into account on the literature. This becomes all the more striking when one considers that data on Mazatec collected in the forties is still eagerly debated, but that very few linguists are currently doing fieldwork in the Mazatec area. Instead, the Huautla and Chiquihuitlan monographs by Kenneth Pike (1948) and Carol Jamieson (1982, 1988) are duly referenced and taken into account in major cross-linguistic surveys as the The World Atlas of Language Structures (Haspelmath & al. 2005-8: see ) or UPSID/,without further inquiry or verification. One could even dare say paradoxically that while phonological typology still pays special attention to Mazatec, especially for its voice quality correlation (see Golston & Kehrein 1998, 2004, Silverman 1997), Mazatec in 2010 turns out to be a neglected language, as far as fieldwork and empirical linguistics are concerned.
The Distinguished Dialects, Prototypical Languages Conference (DDPLC) will therefore address the following questions:

1) Historiography of famous EL or distinguished dialect: what languages and linguistic stocks have had a noticeable impact on descriptive and typological linguistics? This issue concerns phonology as much as morphology, syntax and semantics. Any historiographic survey of the description of languages such as Mazatec, Zoque, Yawelmani, Warlpiri, Mohawk, Tachelhit, Hanti or Mansi (Ostyak or Vogul) within the framework of general linguistics, that takes into account the prerequisites and phonological or grammatical theories, is welcome. The historiography of linguistic stocks can also be taken into account (e.g. the Algonquian or the Uralic paradigms, as opposed to the overwhelming weight of Indo-European studies in the 19th century).

2) Revisiting and contrasting data from famous distinguished dialects or prototypical languages. to what extent were data on these languages or varieties accurate and still hold nowadays? Would the results have been quite different if other varieties had been scrutinized? Why have alternative data from other varieties been drawn apart? What are the consequences of revisiting or enlarging data for fine-grained linguistic typology?

3) The distinguished dialect/prototypical languages potential bias: to what extent available descriptions of these varieties/languages had a decisive impact on the way linguists describe languages of various stocks and types, or infringed on the way they make reconstructions of protolanguages? To what extent do some protolanguages turn out to be no more than prevalent varieties? In Uralic linguistics, for instance, empirical research on vowels in the Ob-Ugrian languages by Eastern German and Hungarian scholars after World War 2 powerfully challenged previous knowledge on Finno-Ugric reconstruction, which had been previously neglected by Finnish scholars - though Toivo Lehtisalo had previously endeavoured to take into account Samoyedic data (1933). The Steinitz's model (1944) opposed the Itkonen's model (1946), contrasting Mordvin evidence with Ob-Ugric data (see Gheno & Hajdú 1992: 175)
Paying tribute to famous prototypical languages or distinguished dialect, revisiting and contrasting data and competing arguments, uncovering potential empirical bias should contribute to the debate on how empirically grounded cross-linguistic typology actually is. The three issues raised by the Distinguished Dialects, Prototypical Languages Workshop aim at answering this Borgesian question (cf. Jorge Luis Borges's novel The Library of Babel), which not only challenges the mere state of the art and current practice of empirical and typological linguistics, but also addresses the linguist's ethics, as even prototypical languages happen to be neglected, at least empirically.

The first day of the conference (2012-02-29) will be devoted to one major issue, following the track of Uriel Weinreich over 50 years ago, with particular focus on multimedia databases: is a worldwide structural dialectology possible?

The languages of the conference will be French, English and Spanish. Talks in Russian or Portuguese or another lingua franca will be accepted, provided that the hand out or the Power Point presentation will make the contents intelligible for the audience, in French or English).

Comité d'organisation et de coordination scientifique :
Jean Léo Léonard (IUF & UMR 7018, Paris 3-CNRS), Sylvie Archaimbault (Laboratoire d'histoire des théories linguistiques - UMR 7597), Christian Puech (Paris 3), Roland Noske (UMR 8163, Lille 3), Rachid Ridouane (UMR 7018, CNRS).

Baker, Mark. 1988. Incorporation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Golston, Chris & Kehrein, Wolfgang. 1998. Mazatec onsets and nuclei, International Journal of American Linguistics 64.4: 311-337.
Golston, Chris & Kehrein, Wolfgang. 2004. A prosodic Theory of laryngeal contrasts, Phonology 21: 1-33. <>
Gudschinsky, Sarah C. 1958. Mazatec dialect history, Language 34: 469-481.
Haspelmath, Martin; Dryer, Matthew S.; Gil, David & Comrie, Bernard (eds.) [2005]-2008. The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Munich: Max Planck Digital Library, cf.
Gheno Danilo & Hajdú Peter. 1992. Introduzione alle lingue uraliche, Turin, Rosenberg & Sellier (a revised translation from Hungarian of Hajdú P. 1981 UNyA coursebook on Uralic Linguistics).
Jamieson, Carole Ann. 1982. Conflated subsystems marking person and aspect in Chiquihuitlán Mazatec verb, IJAL 48(2), 139-167.
- 1988. Gramática mazateca del Municipio de Chuiquihuitlan, Oaxaca. Mexico: Instituto Lingüístico de Verano, A.C.
Kirk, Paul Livingston. 1966. Proto-Mazatec phonology. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington.
Kisseberth, Charles W. 1969. Theoretical implications of Yawelmani phonology. Ph.D.
dissertation, University of Illinois. Urbana-Champaign.
Legate, Julie Anne, 2002. Warlpiri: Theoretical Implications, Ph. D. dissertation, M.I.T.
Noske, Roland G. 1993. A Theory of Syllabification and Segmental Alternation. With studies on the phonology of French, German, Tonkawa and Yawelmani. Tübingen: Niemeyer. XIX, 248 p. (Linguistische Arbeiten, n°296)
Pike, Kenneth 1948. Tone Languages. A Technique for Determining the Number and Types of Pitch Contrasts in a Language, with Studies in Tonemic Substitution and Fusion, Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press. NB : Rééditions : 1949, 56, 57, 61.
Pike, Kenneth L. & Pike, Eunice. 1947. Immediate constituents of Mazatec Syllables, IJAL 13: 78-91.
Silverman, Daniel. 1997. Laryngeal complexity in Otomanguean vowels, Phonology 14: 235-261.
Weinreich, Uriel. 1954. Is a structural dialectology possible? Word, 10:388-400.

Type :
Colloque / Journée d'étude

mise à jour le 28 février 2012