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Lecture | Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series

Nature and origin of V>2 in the French Flemish dialects: archaisms and novelties in a split left periphery

Thursday 15 October 2020
Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series
online via Skype (e-mail a.h.j.van.alem@hum.leidenuniv.nl for the link)


In this talk I focus on the syntactic properties of verb-later-than-second (V>2) word order in the moribund French Flemish dialects, which are the most (south)western continental West Germanic dialects, roofed by a Romance language.

French Flemish, in a similar fashion as the West Flemish dialects roofed by the Dutch standard language, allows V>2 word order, though earlier research suggests this happens way more often than in the other West Flemish dialects. While there has been some research on V>2 in French Flemish, these studies are, especially with respect to the number of investigated locations, insufficient to give a clear picture of the origin of the structure and the role of language contact. The research I present is intended to fill this gap, using time-aligned transcriptions of spoken speech recorded in the 1960s of over 50 different locations in French Flemish.

Departing from the remarkable socio-historical and extralinguistic context which shapes the French Flemish dialects, I will present my ongoing research on the frequency and the properties of V>2 in French Flemish, considering the impact of language contact. I argue that the different incidences are the result of both archaisms and novelties, such as a higher incidence of non-integrated initial adverbial clauses (without resumptive adverbials) in FrameP, and novelties, such as clause introducing ‘t maakt, which I analyse as a grammaticalised discourse marker in the left periphery (possibly DeclP). Such analysis inevitably leads to a theoretical framework with a split left periphery, in which many of the initial constituents and clauses in V>2 patterns interact with the discourse.

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