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"Community meets individuals in Early Modern English..." par P PETRE

le 12 novembre 2020
De 14h à 16h


Conférence de Peter Petré – University of Antwerp

Community meets individuals in Early Modern English. The impact of individual differences and similarities on long-term population-level syntactic change

Language change has typically been studied at the aggregate level, yet it is innovations and fluctuations in individual behaviours that bring about such change. Assuming that language is a complex adaptive system (Beckner et al. 2009), I show how macro-properties of grammaticalizing constructions can be accounted for as an unintended effect of intentional individual interactions. These dynamics are exemplified by various developments in seventeenth and eighteenth-century English as represented in 50 prolific writers (brought together in the EMMA-corpus, Petré et al. 2019), including the grammaticalization of be going to, the copularization of ‘get’, and the increasing productivity of prepositional passives.
For each of these types of evidence it will be shown that individuals continue to innovate/adopt innovations beyond adolescence, but do so in different ways, depending on their age and community of practice. These differences lead to a higher degree of variation, which prepares a changing construction for its next leap. Also, leaders of change are followed by both older and younger adopters, but whereas older adopters will conservatively constrain innovative usage in agreement with pre-existing habits, younger language users may significantly elaborate usage across the lifespan (cf. Petré & Van de Velde 2018). Combined, these behaviours reinforce the well-known S-curve propagation of change... lire la suite

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Dernière modification : 8 octobre 2020



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