Jóhanna Barðdal

22.–24. 10.


Jóhanna Barðdal


  Research Associate Professor
Coeditor of the Journal of Historical Linguistics
Department of Linguistics Ghent University

Odborné zaměření:
– Vývoj jazyka a gramatikalizace
– Severogermánské jazyky, např. islandština
– Sémantika a syntax; pád a valence


22. 10. / č. 300/ 17.30 1 Syntactic Reconstruction and Construction Grammar: Introduction

The goal of this introduction is to present an overview of earlier and current research on syntactic reconstruction and illustrate how such a reconstruction may be carried out. Earlier structuralist and generative scholars of the last decades of the 20th century took a strong aversion to syntactic reconstruction, aversion which is still found among many contemporary historical syntacticians. This view is gradually changing, however, and more and more concurrent linguists are arguing for the feasibility of syntactic reconstruction. Particularly within the framework of Construction Grammar has it been argued that syntactic reconstruction is not only achievable, but may also be quite successful. In addition, historical syntacticians from a diversity of frameworks have started coming forward to propose different methods of syntactic reconstructions within their respective models. 

23. 10. / č. 18/ 15.50 2 Reconstructing Argument Structure, Word Order, and Focus for Proto-Indo-European

In contrast to the received consensus in the historical-comparative linguistic community, it is argued here that syntactic reconstruction is both a plausible and a feasible enterprise. I illustrate this with an investigation of the syntactic behavior of *wai ‘woe’ across five subbranches of Indo-European, i.e. Indo-Iranian, Italic, Baltic, Slavic and Germanic. The adverbial interjection *wai ‘woe’ is found instantiating three different constructions, here labeled:
1) the Bare Exclamative Construction, 2) the Dative Exclamative Construction, and 3) the Predicative Construction. I suggest that the Predicative Construction is archaic in the Indo-European languages, and that the Dative Exclamative Construction has developed from a focalized variant of the Predicative Construction, used in exclamatory context, since ‘woe’ is the quintessential candidate for being focused in situations of adversity. On the basis of the comparative evidence, all three constructions must be reconstructed for Proto-Indo-European. 

24. 10. /č. 18/ 10.50 3 Reconstructing Grammatical Relations for Proto-Germanic

Syntactic reconstruction has long been virtually outlawed in historical-comparative research, more or less ever since Watkins’s influential works on the problems of reconstructing word order for Proto-Indo-European. Recently, through the emergence of Construction Grammar, where complex syntactic structures are regarded as form–function pairings, a resurgence of syntactic reconstruction is made possible, as complex syntactic structures become a legitimate object of the Comparative Method. Given the legitimacy of syntactic reconstruction, and hence the possible reconstruction of
argument-structure constructions, a major question arises as to whether grammatical relations are also reconstructable for earlier undocumented language periods. I argue that if the constructions singling out grammatical relations can be reconstructed for a proto-branch, the grammatical relations following from these are also reconstructable for that proto-branch. In order to illustrate this methodology, I show how a reconstruction of the subject function in Proto-Germanic may be carried out, more specifically of oblique-subject predicates like ‘hunger’, ‘thirst’ and ‘lust’, based on the
subject properties found in the earliest Germanic daughter languages.