Linguistics talks on 7th May

Posted on May 7, 2019 by

Yes, you read talkS right. We have not one, not two, but three linguistics talks happening today, so here’s hoping you’ve kept your schedule clear, although simple bilocation would do too.

Marije and Henri will be presenting at the Digital Humanities Work-in-Progress Afternoon.

Marije’s talk will take place 2.30 – 3, and she will speak on “Mapping linguistic variation in horizontal and vertical space in nineteenth-century Dublin”.

Henri’s talk will take place 4 – 4.30, and the title is “How to measure the speed of linguistic change?”.

The DH talks will be in Sam Alex A114.


We will also have our final LEL seminar talk for the term today. It we be by Charlotte Hemmings (Oxford), who  who will speak on

‘Grammatical Functions and the Challenge from Austronesian’

The abstract is below.

The seminar will take place in A215 in Samuel Alexander. As usual there will be drinks afterwards, but since someone else needs the room at 6, the drinks will be in the LEL (and EAC) common room on W1 in Samuel Alexander.  Everyone is welcome to join the dinner.


Grammatical Functions and the Challenge from Austronesian

Charlotte Hemmings, The University of Oxford

Grammatical functions like ‘subject’ are often taken to be primitives in syntactic theory and treated as both fundamental and universal. However, there is a long-standing debate as to whether subject functions really exist in Western Austronesian languages on account of their relatively unusual symmetrical voice systems and the so-called split in typical subject properties between the actor semantic role and the argument privileged by the voice morphology (or PSA). In this paper, I address the debate in relation to empirical data from three languages in Northern Sarawak: Kelabit, Lun Bawang and Sa’ban. I argue that data provides a number of arguments for identifying the PSA as subject and the actor as an object in non-actor voice constructions. This has important implications for how we treat grammatical functions cross-linguistically and the analysis of Western Austronesian verbal morphology.