Variation in human languages is pervasive, but not arbitrary : the features of languages pattern into clusters that define typological classes.
ALL will address variation from two complementary perspectives:
- one internal to the grammatical systems
- the other historical, social and geographic, focussing on the relationship between language contact and language change, and on the relationship between variation and practices and repertoires of the speakers.
One of the salient characteristics of the Afroasiatic languages is the fact that they use morpho-phonological processes to express various categories which are encoded in the syntax in e.g. Indo-European languages. For this reason, the questions pertaining to the morpho-phonological and morphosyntactic interface are crucial for a proper understanding of the grammar of these langages.
As most languages in the world, Afroasiatic languages experience various types of linguistic contact. This is particularly the case between Cushitic, Omotic and Semitic languages in the Horn of Africa, where the three families have co-existed for millennia. Contacts are also massive between Arabic and Nilo-Saharan languages in Africa, between Arabic and Berber languages in North Africa, and between Arabic and Modern South Arabian languages in the Arabian Peninsula. Language contact can be viewed as one of the triggering factors for linguistic change.
ALL aims at :
- comparing the details of the morpho-phonological and morpho-syntactic expression of grammatical features in the respective langages.
- combining different levels of analysis (phonological, morphosyntactic, pragmatic, and typological) in order to provide a fine-grained study of the multifactorial nature of language contact, and lay the foundations of a typology of language contact phenomena in Afroasiatic.
- investigating the sociolinguistic conditioning of contact-induced change