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Arnulf Deppermann: Lean syntax: how argument structure is adapted to its interactive, material, and temporal ecology

It has often been argued that argument structure in spoken discourse is less complex than in written discourse. This paper argues that lean argument structure, in particular, argument omission, gives evidence of how the production and understanding of linguistic structures is adapted to the interactive, material, and temporal ecology of talk-in-interaction. It is shown how lean argument structure builds on participants’ ongoing bodily conduct, joint perceptual salience, joint attention, and their orientation to expectable next actions within a joint project. The phenomena discussed in this paper are verb-derived discourse markers and tags, analepsis in responsive actions, and ellipsis in first actions, such as requests and instructions. The study draws from transcripts and audio- and video-recordings of naturally occurring interaction in German from the Research and Teaching Corpus of Spoken German (FOLK).

Federica Cognola & Roland Hinterhölzl: Syntactic and semantic restrictions in the licensing of subjects in Cimbrian main clauses

The paper provides a comprehensive study of the syntactic and informational structural restrictions ruling the distribution of subjects in main clauses of Cimbrian, a Germanic dialect spoken in the village of Luserna, Trentino (Northern Italy). In this variety post-verbal subjects necessitate the presence of a subject clitic pronoun or of the element da (which is homophonous with the locative pronoun “here”) cliticized onto the finite verb, while a preverbal subject excludes these elements. Based on novel data collected in our own fieldwork, we provide a theoretical account of the distribution of da in Cimbrian showing that da lexicalises Fin° and its distribution is constrained by the V2 nature of Cimbrian. We then show that discourse-given NP subjects are licensed in [Spec,FinP], where Fin° serves to anchor the utterance to the context. The cases in which a subject does not raise to [Spec, FinP] and clitics or da lexicalise Fin° in order to anchor the utterance to the context are twofold: i) the subject is semantically inert to anchor the utterance and ii) the subject is syntactically inert to move into the position required for anchoring.

Abira Sivakumar, Nadine Sette, Natascha Müller & Laia Arnaus Gil: Die Entwicklung des rezeptiven Wortschatzes bei bi-, tri- und multilingual aufwachsenden Kindern

Studies on the acquisition of the lexicon have shown that multilingual children have disadvantages if compared with monolingual children. Multilingual children acquire the lexicon of the majority language with ease; they lag behind their monolingual peers if it comes to the lexicon of the minority language. However, longitudinal studies of children who acquire three languages from birth, which are still rare, prove that a balanced lexicon in all three languages is possible. The present study focus on the size of the lexicon in 126 children, of whom 53 are bilingual, 64 trilingual and 9 multilingual (with more than three languages). In order to be able to analyze the potential(ly positive) influence of the majority language with respect to the subject’s linguistic development, testing took place in a Spanish-Catalan environment (Palma, Spain) as well as in a German environment. The most important result of the study is that multilingualism influences negatively the size of the lexicon only in German and not in the other studied languages (French, Spanish and Catalan). The negative effect in German cannot be explained on the basis of lower reaction times in the test, on the fact that German is not the majority language or on an unbalanced language development. The observations allow for a linguistically-motivated explanation, related to the architecture of the German mental lexicon: this architecture contrasts sharply with the mental lexicons of the Romance languages. As a consequence, the study can be used to discern higher educational needs of multilingual children in German, if they acquire more than two languages from birth.

Jacek Makowski: Rezension

Silvia Bonacchi (Hg.) (2017): Verbale Aggression. Multidisziplinäre Zugänge zur verletzenden Macht der Sprache. Berlin: De Gruyter.