Research Project: DiFuPaRo

Full Title: "Distribution and Function of 'Partitive Articles' in Romance (DiFuPaRo): a microvariation analysis"

 

1. Description

The project

  • Elaboration of the project:

Co-funded by the URPP Language and Space.

Input from the international workshop Partitivity and Language Contact: https://www.rose.uzh.ch/de/seminar/wersindwir/mitarbeitende/stark/partitivity3.html, co-funded by the URPP Language and Space.

  • Funding: SNSF /DFG research project (SNSF ID: 100012L_172751 and DFG ID: PO1642/8-1).
  • Project leaders: Elisabeth Stark (University of Zurich) in collaboration with Cecilia Poletto (Frankfurt am Main).

  • Dates: 2018-2021.

Background The project investigates the way similar languages all belonging to the Romance family (i.e. languages derived from Latin) can display variable properties. The linguistic research of the last fifty years has proved that not all logical possibilities are always realized across languages, but the existence of some grammatical properties implies the existence of others in the same language so that linguistic properties can group together in clusters. This is true if we compare languages that are genetically unrelated, like for instance French and Chinese, but even more so across languages that are closely related, like French and Italian. Our investigations will not only target standard Italian and French, but also their vernacular varieties spoken in the geographic area comprising France, Northern Italy and part of Switzerland; they will also include minority Romance languages without a standard like Franco-provençal and Ladin. Our project intends to make use of the data already contained in data bases to compare the morphosyntactic properties and track down how characters of the linguistic system cluster together.

In order to do this, we have selected a typical grammatical property that singles out exactly these languages with respect to Spanish, Portuguese etc. in the bigger domain of Romance. This property concerns the existence of so called “partitive articles”, i.e. forms like du/del, ‘of the’, which can as to their etymology be decomposed into the preposition de/di followed by the definite article, to mark an indefinite element. The reason why we selected precisely this phenomenon is that it is actually rather bizarre that a form containing historically a definite article is used to mark an indefinite nominal expression. Furthermore, partitive articles are typologically highly marked, i.e. rather rare in the languages of the world. However, they are yet quite neglected elements in the research literature and there is up to now no systematic study (besides some work concentrating only either on Standard French or on standard Italian), which relates these elements to the respective Romance systems of nominal determination.

Objectives The aim of the project is to (i) compare the morphosyntactic properties of these languages and track down how characters of the linguistic system cluster together, and (ii) determine how and why partitive articles have evolved and spread through a precise geographical domain (France-Northern Italy-part of Switzerland), but not across all Romance. To do so, we will make use of already existing data bases (OFROM: colloquial Swiss French; ALAVAL: Francoprovençal; ASIt: Northern Italian) and gather data of our own, adopting well-established techniques of field work. The pool of data obtained will enable us to find out how variation can be modelled, in particular how morpho-syntactic means encode semantic properties, and the distribution and function of partitive articles in all vernacular varieties under scrutiny.

Context By studying the evolution and the distribution of this phenomenon across languages, we aim at learning more about the way in which the internal mechanisms of languages operate, in particular how morpho-syntactic means encode semantic properties and how much they can vary.  Besides the gain in linguistic description and analysis, the overall importance of this project lies also in unravelling and documenting unknown features of partially endangered Romance varieties used in informal contexts only, which are highly relevant to understand issues of language contact in the explanation of the distribution of grammatical features in space (Bickel 2007).

2. Subprojects

Subproject A: Gallo-Romance

  • Leader: Elisabeth Stark (University of Zurich)
  • Languages: French and Francoprovençal
  • Corpora: OFROM (Corpus Oral de français en Suisse romande - Oral Corpus of French in the French speaking area of Switzerland) and ALAVAL (Atlas linguistique audiovisuel du francoprovençal valaisan - Audiovisual linguistic atlas of Francoprovençal in Wallis (Switzerland))

Subproject B: Italo-Romance

  • Leader: Cecilia Poletto (Frankfurt am Main)
  • Languages: Italian and Northern Italian Dialects (NIDs)
  • Corpus: ASIt (Atlante sintattico d'Italia - Syntactic Atlas of Italy)

3. Team

Subproject A: Gallo-Romance

  • Elisabeth Stark (University of Zurich): project leader
  • Tabea Ihsane (University of Geneva and University of Zurich): scientific collaborator/coordinator (post-doc)
  • Jan Davatz (University of Zurich): doctoral student
  • Jordan Irrera (University of Neuchâtel): student assistant

Subproject B: Italo-Romance

External partners

  • Federica Diémoz (University of Neuchâtel)
  • Carmen Dobrovie-Sorin (CNRS/University Paris Diderot-Paris 7)
  • Claudine Fréchet (Catholic University of Lyon)
  • Leonardo Savoia (University of Florence)

4. Output

4.1 Conference presentations

2020. Tabea Ihsane. "Partitive articles in preverbal subjects: contrasting French and Aosta Valley Francoprovençal". Workshop Variation in the Expression of Partitivity and Partitive Expressions. 14th International Conference of General Linguistics (CILG2020). University of Sevilla, Spain. 26 June.

2019. Petra Sleeman, Giuliana Giusti, Tabea Ihsane & Leonie Cornips. "(Micro-) variation in the distribution of the partitive pronoun in Romance and Germanic". PARTE workshop. Partitive case, pronouns and determiners: diachrony and variation. University of Pavia, Italy. 2 September.

2019. Jan Davatz & Elisabeth Stark. "Unexpected partitive articles in Francoprovençal". PARTE workshop. Partitive case, pronouns and determiners: diachrony and variation. University of Pavia, Italy. 2 September.

2019. Giuliana Giusti, Elvira Glaser, Tabea Ihsane, Petra Sleeman, Thomas Strobel. "Features and contexts of partitive pronouns: a cross-linguistic comparison".  PARTE workshop. Partitivity in European Languages. University of Zurich, Switzerland. 26 January.  https://www.spur.uzh.ch/en/research/synode/networks.html 

2019. Francesco Pinzin & Cecilia Poletto. "Partitive Articles in French, Italian (and Northern Italian Dialects)". PARTE workshop. University of Zurich, Switzerland. 26 January.

2018. Elisabeth Stark (invited by Anne Carlier). "Pourquoi des 'articles partitifs' dans les langues romanes ? Approche morphologique comparative". Colloque de recherche en linguistique. University of Lille, France. 26 October.

2018. Tabea Ihsane & Elisabeth Stark. "Presenting DiFuPaRo: Distribution and Function of ‘Partitive articles’ in Romance: A microvariation analysis”. Days of Swiss Linguistics 2018. University of Bern, Switzerland. 12 October.

2018. Tabea Ihsane. "Preverbal subjects with a partitive article: The case of Francoprovençal in the Aosta Valley". Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE 2018), Workshop Preverbal Indefinite Subjects. University of Tallinn, Estonia. 29 August.

 

4.2 Publications

Forth. Ihsane T./E. Stark. (eds.) Shades of Partitivity: Formal and areal properties. Special issue in Linguistics.

In prep. Ihsane T. (eds.). Bare nouns vs. ‘partitive articles’: disentangling functions. Syntax and Semantics. Manuscript to be submitted to Brill.

Submitted. Garzonio J./C. Poletto. Partitive Objects in Negative Contexts in Northern Italian Dialects. Submitted to Linguistics. ISSN 163-396X

Submitted. Gerards D./E. Stark. Why ‘Partitive Articles’ do not Exist in (Old) Spanish. In Ihsane T. (eds.). Brill.

Submitted. Stark E./D. Gerards. Partitive Articles in Aosta Valley Francoprovençal–Old Questions and New Data. In Ihsane (eds.). Brill.

 

4.3 Conference/workshop organisation

2020. Urtzi Etxeberria, Tabea Ihsane, Ilja Seržant, Petra Sleeman, Anne Tamm. Workshop Variation in the Expression of Partitivity and Partitive Expressions. 14th International Conference of General Linguistics (CILG2020). University of Sevilla, Spain. 26 June.

2019. Tabea Ihsane, Elisabeth Stark, Elvira Glaser & Petra Sleeman. PARTE workshop. Partitivity in European Languages. University of Zurich, Switzerland. 26 January.