Linguistic Cycles Workshop:

25-26 April 2008

Arizona State University, Tempe AZ

Program, Abstracts,

Pictures and Book Proposal

New: Draft of the Introduction


Travel to ASU

Air: ASU is 10-minutes away from the airport in Phoenix, known as Sky Harbor Airport. Many hotels have shuttles and a taxi ride is about $12.

Car: Click for Driving Directions; parking is available in the Fulton center, NE corner of University and College.



The Workshop will be held in the Language and Lit Building on the SE corner of University and College. The talks will be in LL 60 (the basement) with refreshments in LL 173N (first floor). Map of ASU: LL building in 4C.


Hotels: Holiday Inn; Twin Palms; Comfort Inn; and Courtyard Marriot. There is no special rate.


Registration: on site; NO fee. Student participants will receive a small reimbursement. Dinner on Friday is free for particpants.


Linguistic Cycles
Linguistic cycles have been discussed by Hodge (1970) and Tauli (1956). Some well-known cycles involve Negatives, where an initial single negative such as not gets to be reinforced by nothing or replaced by never, and subjects, where full pronouns are reanalyzed as endings on the verb. Clauses, aspect markers, articles, and copula verbs also undergo cycles of internal change followed by external change.

Cycles of language change have not been studied in generative linguistics and only sporadically in other frameworks. This workshop is an attempt to bring together linguists who do work on these cycles and discuss their current research. It also aims to come up with (a) description of linguistic cycles (in as many languages as possible) in terms of structural principles, and (b) explanations, e.g. biolinguistic ones
Grammaticalization was identified early on in linguistics, as well as the fact that this kind of linguistic change leads to loss and renewal, i.e. to a linguistic cycle. Works such as Lehmann (1982) and Heine & Traugott (1991) inspired many linguists to pay closer attention to this phenomenon again, especially in a functionalist framework. Recently, however, structural accounts have started to appear, e.g. Roberts & Roussou 2003; van Gelderen 2004, accounting for the cyclicity of the changes involved. Van Gelderen, for instance, uses general cognitive Economy Principles that help the learner acquire a grammar that is more economical, and as a side-effect more grammaticalized.

Grammaticalization is a descriptive term and it is more appropriate to use reanalysis to emphasize the role of the child acquiring the language. A child listens to a particular language and will analyze the linguistic input in the most economic way. This may result in an internal grammar different from that of an earlier generation. In such a view, grammaticalization and cyclical change is seen as following from Universal Principles (possibly third factor) and the task of the linguist is to unearth these principles.