School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Complexity as L2-difficulty: sociohistorically responsive features in syntactic change

5 February 2020

Time: 4:30 - 6:00pm
Speaker: George Walkden
Venue: Scape 1.04

We are pleased to welcome Prof. George Walkden (University of Konstanz), who will present:

Complexity as L2-difficulty: sociohistorically responsive features in syntactic change

Abstract:  Recent work has cast doubt on the idea that all languages are equally complex; however, the notion of syntactic complexity remains underexplored. Taking complexity to equate to difficulty of acquisition for late L2 acquirers, we propose an operationalization of syntactic complexity in terms of uninterpretable features. Trudgill’s sociolinguistic typology predicts that sociohistorical situations involving substantial late L2 acquisition should be conducive to simplification, i.e. loss of such features. We sketch a programme for investigating this prediction. In particular, we suggest that the loss of bipartite negation in the history of Low German and other languages indicates that it may be on the right track.

Additional info, might be worth adding: The talk will partly present joint work with Anne Breitbarth, and partly give an outline of an upcoming ERC project. Especially relevant for Masters students in syntax and/or socio and/or L2 acquisition to attend, as George will be recruiting for PhD students for the new project.

 

For more information, please contact events organiser Elvis Coimbra-Gomes (ling-events@qmul.ac.uk).