SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

A comprehensive model of language evolution from a Discourse Grammar perspective


Date: 19 February 2020Time: 1:00 PM

Finishes: 19 February 2020Time: 3:00 PM

Venue: Faber Building, 23/24 Russell Square Room: FG01

Type of Event: Seminar

Speakers: Tania Kuteva (Heinrich Heine Universität Düsseldorf)

Both linguistic and neuroanatomical evidence suggests that there are two modes of processing in linguistic discourse, namely an analytic mode and a holistic mode. Competent speakers of a language know many linguistic entities in two ways: holistically and analytically, and can move between the two. The analytic mode is concerned with propositional language processing based on the compositional format of sentences, clauses, and phrases and their hierarchical organization, while the holistic mode surfaces mainly in unanalyzable, formulaic expressions, for example, in expressions such as interjections (wow, ouch), ideophones (bang, splish-splash), formulae of social exchange (hello, sorry, Goodbye, how do you do?).  Research on the reconstruction of earlier stages of language evolution has for the most part been restricted to the analytic mode, and grammaticalization theory played an important role in this research. Adopting the framework of Discourse Grammar in this talk we will demonstrate that a complementary analysis of holistic ways of processing can contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how human languages may have evolved.