Appel à projet – Tracing the Curve of evolution: Syntactic change through text types

With the support of the CRISCO research center, the Agence nationale de la recherche and the Institut universitaire de France.


To establish how investigations calibrated by text types support the understanding of syntactic change and their causes


Research into patterns of evolution and their causes has enjoyed renewed interest with the development of digital corpora. The construction and analysis of such corpora has brought to the fore the question of text types. Calibrating resources by texts types allows to maximise the stability and comparability of the results. Comparing text types and how they document syntactic change has been done to achieve different objectives

  • Get closer to the effective evolution in the immediate competence of speakers. Studies have noted the impact of text-type in documenting evolving syntactic phenomena through time (Wanner 1987, Laroche Wilson 2012, Wolfsgruber 2017, Donaldson 2018, McLaughlin 2018, Farasyn et al 2018, Schøsler & Glessgen 2018, Amatuzzi et al 2020). One of the ways in which this has been explored is through comparing direct speech and narrative passages in literary sources (Vance 1997: 245-246, Schosler 2002, Rodriguez Somolinos 2003, Denoyelle 2010, Dufter 2010, Guillot et al. 2015, Parussa et al 2020), that tend to show that direct speech is generally less conservative than narration (Glikman et al 2014, 2019), although this is not always the case (Pujol 2018, Imel 2019); one may also wonder whether the speech/narration divide is comparable to text type distinctions. The representativeness of literary direct speech is difficult to assess given the scarcity of non-fictional dialogue (Lio Mazor, Anglo-Norman Year Books, Old Bailey Corpus and the Salem Witch Trial).
  • Situate the role of register in the evolution of variants (Ayres-Bennett 2020, Wright 1991). It has been found that systematic register differences characterise subtypes of legal texts (Ingham 2016, Larrivée 2022), although these may evolve through time. Different text types have also been found to play a role in the dissemination of new variants (Pountain 2006).
  • Understand the historical development of text types and of their salient grammatical features (Halliday 1988, Nevalainen 1991, Biber 1995, Kohnen 2012, Taavitsainen 2001).

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The interplay between genre variation and syntax in a historical Low German corpus. R. J. Whitt (Ed.). Diachronic corpora, genre, and language change. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 281–303. Glikman, J. et al. 2019. Oral représenté et narration en ancien français. Spécificités syntaxiques dans trois textes de genres distincts. Linx 78. Glikman, Julie et al. 2014. Représentation de l’oral et structures syntaxiques dans la prose de la Queste del saint Graal (1225-1230). D. Lagorgette et al (Eds). Représentation du Sens Linguistique V. Chambéry: Université de Savoie. 43–64. Guillot, C. et al. 2015. L’oral représenté dans un corpus de français médiéval (9e–15e) : approche contrastive et outillée de la variation diasystémique. Les variations diasystématiques et leurs interdépendances dans les langues romanes. J. Lindschouw et al (Eds). Actes du colloque DIA II à Copenhague (19-21 nov. 2012), Travaux de Linguistique Romane. 15–27. Halliday, M. A. K. 1988. On the language of physical science. M. 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Keynote speakers:

  • Wendy Ayres-Bennett (Cambridge)
  • Johannes Kabatek (Zurich)

Interest in principle:

  • Kristin Bech (Oslo)
  • Anne Breitbarth (Ghent)
  • Andreas Dufter (München)
  • Charlotte Galves (Unicamp)
  • Adam Ledgeway (Cambridge)
  • France Martineau (Ottawa)
  • Terttu Nevalainen (Helsinki)
  • Álvaro S. Octavio de Toledo (Madrid)
  • Lene Schøsler (København)
  • Barbara Vance (Indiana)

Scientific committee: Brian Donaldson (Santa Cruz), Chiara De Bastiani (Venezia), Chiara Gianollo (Bologna), Mathieu Goux (Caen), Álvaro S. Octavio de Toledo (Madrid), Gabriella Parussa (Sorbonne), Afra Pujol i Campeny (Oxford), Tara Struik (Mannheim), David Willis (Oxford)

Organising committee: Natalia Romanova (Caen), Myriam Bergeron-Maguire (Paris 3), Corinne Denoyelle (Grenoble)


A two-page anonymous abstract about the significance of investigations calibrated by text-types for the understanding of syntactic change.

The abstract is expected to outline the research question and background, the notions and criteria, the method and data, the key findings and their relevance for the meeting. A comparative dimension across registers, text-types and/or languages, as well as an explanatory dimension for the investigated phenomena, are highly desirable. Please indicate preference for an oral or poster presentation.

To be sent to

By October 1st 2023.

Accepted authors will be encouraged to share a draft version of their talk before the conference.


  • October 1st 2023: Deadline for abstract submission
  • January 3 2024: Notification from Scientific committee
  • January 15 2024: Publication of program
  • February 28 2024: Deadline for reception of draft papers for circulation
  • March 28-30 2024: Conference