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Two Vrije Competitie Grants for LUCL researchers

LUCL is pleased to announce that two Vrije Competitie Grants have been awarded to LUCL researchers. Prof.dr. Lisa Cheng and dr. Jenny Doetjes have been awarded a grant for their project 'Understanding questions'. Prof.dr. Michael Kemper (UvA) and prof.dr. Jos Schaeken have been awarded a grant for the project 'The Russian Language of Islam'.

LUCL is pleased to announce that two Vrije Competitie Grants have been awarded to LUCL researchers. Prof.dr. Lisa Cheng and dr. Jenny Doetjes have been awarded a grant for their project 'Understanding questions'. Prof.dr. Michael Kemper (UvA) and prof.dr. Jos Schaeken have been awarded a grant for the project 'The Russian Language of Islam'.

Understanding questions

In English, an interrogative phrase (or wh-phrase) has to be fronted in order to form a question (What did he ask?). In other languages, the wh-phrase remains "in situ", that is, in its original position (cf. French Il a demandé quoi? lit. "He asked what"?, meaning "What did he ask"?). Whereas French has both fronted and in-situ questions, some languages such as Mandarin Chinese only allow the in-situ strategy.
In fronted wh-questions, the fronted wh-phrase indicates the clause type from the very beginning of the sentence. The syntactic literature has posited comparable structure for in-situ and fronted questions, in the sense that clause typing always occurs in a designated position high up in the structure. However, up to now it is unknown whether such clause typing is reflected in the prosody of wh-in-situ, nor do we know whether/how the parser anticipates the clause type of the in-situ questions.

This project proposes an integrated and comparative study on the syntactic, semantic, prosodic and processing aspects of in-situ wh-questions, taking the Grammar-parser correspondence hypothesis (Phillips 1996, 2003) as a guiding principle. According to this hypothesis, the grammar and the parser are closely intertwined and the competence system of language is guided by grammatical constraints and rules. Given this, we expect that detailed prosodic analyses as well as data on processing will help us understand how clause typing is done in syntactic structure. At the same time it will allow us to verify different hypotheses made in the literature.

The Russian language of Islam

Situated between Islamic, Arabic, Turkic and Russian studies, this project explores the framework of a new multinational Islamic discourse in the Russian Federation.
We argue that over the past twenty years the Russian language has become the major vehicle of Islam in Russia. This project explores how Muslim authorities and writers use Russian to transmit Islamic contents, and whether this leads to a specific "Islamic sociolect" of the Russian language. How does the diversity of Islam in Russia create distinctive manners of "translating" Islam into Russian? How does "Islamic Russian" interact with Russia’s traditional "Muslim" languages, esp. Tatar (which is spoken by millions of Russian citizens), and with Arabic as the classical language of Islamic literature? How does "Islamic Russian" adopt Russian modes of representation, in order to create acceptance for Islam in Russian society?

We identify three major variants of Islamic Russian, namely "Russianism", "Academism", and "Arabism", which are used by different Islamic communities. These variants differ in their use of Arabic-Islamic loan words, in their translation of Arabic terms and conventions into Russian, and in their adoption of Marxist, ethno-nationalist, and Western/liberal discourse elements. Our three sub-projects study the linguistic and pragmatic characteristics of these variants, and especially their interrelations, with a wide range of material from European Russia and the North Caucasus. Do the three variants separate rivalling Islamic camps, or do they build bridges between them?
Do we witness the emergence of a coherent "Islamic Russian sociolect" that is more than the sum of its variants?

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