Upcoming events

Event Information:

  • Thu

    Michal Starke: Cutting French verbs and gluing them back together

    1:00 pmCamelot Room (Blandijnberg 2, 3rd floor)

    Prof. Dr Michal Starke (Masaryk University): "Cutting French verbs and gluing them back together".

    Abstract: Descriptively, French has many "irregular" verbs, as well as a mildly complex combination of suffixes on verbs. I aim to show that both irregular verbs and the combination of verbal suffixes follow a regular underlying system, and that this system can be elegantly derived by using phrasal spellout, the elsewhere principle and the functional sequence provided by syntax.

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Past events

Event Information:

  • Thu

    Dialing talks

    2:30 pmGrote vergaderzaal 3de verdieping Blandijn

    Simon Aerts (BOF): “A synchronic and diachronic systemic functional 'three-dimensional' approach to tense and aspect in the writings of Caesar and Gregory of Tours”

    Koen Bostoen (ERC Consolidator Grant): “The First Bantu Speakers South of the Rainforest: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Human Migration, Language Spread, Climate Change and Early Farming in Late Holocene Central Africa”


    A synchronic and diachronic systemic functional 'three-dimensional' approach to tense and aspect in the writings of Caesar and Gregory of Tours

    Simon Aerts (Universiteit Gent)

    My research deals with the verbal categories of (relative) tense & aspect in a corpus of Latin historiographical texts: the writings of Caesar (first century BC) and Gregory of Tours (sixth century AD). The framework is a Systemic Functional model (with cognitive and other influences), especially in Bache's (2008) version. The texts are divided in narrative episodes and marked for discours mode (Smith 2003), and then subjected to a close reading on three levels of meaning, or metafunctions: ideational/representational (e.g. temporal deixis, grammatical aspect in the sense of terminativity), textual/presentational (e.g. foreground-background, discours cohesion, anticipation) and interpersonal (e.g. internal/external perspective, focalization). It is an important aspect of my investigation to see texts (and verb tenses) as having a metafunctionally diverse meaning potential, of which some meanings are emphasized or excluded by, for instance, the context. Accordingly, Latin examples are never given without the broader context.

    By means of this close reading, the texts are annotated for multiple variables in a new database, of which the correlation with the use of the narrative tenses will be statistically computed. In this way, I hope to contribute to the discussion on Latin tense and aspect as the basic meaning of the infectum and perfectum stems, by conducting a modern and comprehensive research. It is, however, important not to take a stance in the debate from the start, as many linguists seem to have done in the past.

    The investigation also includes a diachronic element: the language of Caesar is compared to the that of Gregory of Tours, in order to provide an interesting starting point for studies of Romance languages. This excursion is, however, planned for a later phase of my project.

     The First Bantu Speakers South of the Rainforest: A Cross-Disciplinary Approach to Human Migration, Language Spread, Climate Change and Early Farming in Late Holocene Central Africa

    Koen Bostoen (Universiteit Gent)

    The Bantu Expansion is not only the principal linguistic, cultural and demographic process in Late Holocene Africa. It has also become one of the most controversial issues in African History. Several generations of linguists, archaeologists, anthropologists, palaeoenvironmentalists, geneticists and many more have tried to answer the question of how the relatively young Bantu language family (ca. 5000 years) could spread over disproportionally large parts of Central, Eastern and Southern Africa, but have almost always done so from a discipline-specific base.

    The prevailing synthesis is a model in which the Bantu language dispersal is conceived as resulting from a single migratory macro-event driven by agriculture. However, many basic questions about the movement and subsistence of ancestral Bantu speakers are still completely open and can only be addressed through genuine interdisciplinary collaboration as proposed here. Through this project, researchers with outstanding expertise in Central African archaeology, archaeobotany and historical linguistics will form a unique cross-disciplinary team to carry out together evidence-based frontier research on the first Bantu-speaking settlements south of the equatorial rainforest.

    Archaeological fieldwork will be undertaken in parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Republic of the Congo and Angola that are as yet still unexplored by archaeologists in order to determine the timing, location and archaeological signature of the earliest Bantu-speaking settlers in that region and to establish how they interacted with autochthonous hunter-gatherers. To get a better idea of their subsistence, diet and natural habitat, special attention will be paid to archaeobotanical and palaeoenvironmental proxies, whose study is still in its infancy within Central African archaeological contexts. Historical linguistic research will be pushed beyond the boundaries of vocabulary-based phylogenetics that currently prevails in Bantu classification studies and open up new pathways in the field of lexical reconstruction, especially with regard to the subsistence and land use strategies of ancestral Bantu speakers. Through external interuniversity collaboration with expert teams archaeozoological, palaeoenvironmental and genetic data as well as phylogenetic modelling will be brought into the cross-disciplinary approach.

    In this way, scholars working on different datasets will collaborate directly and tackle together challenging research questions in order to acquire a new transversal view on the interconnections between human migration, language spread, climate change and early farming in Late Holocene Central Africa and to transform the current thinking on the Bantu Expansion.

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