Confs: General Linguistics/USA

The Linguistic Cycle II

Date: 25-Apr-2014 – 26-Apr-2014
Location: Tempe, AZ, USA
Contact: Elly van Gelderen
Contact Email:

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Meeting Description:

The Linguistic Cycle Workshop II
25 – 26 April 2014, Arizona State University

The first Workshop on the Linguistic Cycle took place at Arizona State University in April 2008. We plan to do a follow-up in 2014, taking stock of progress and also to see what challenges looking at changes in a cyclical manner brings!

What is the Linguistic Cycle?

The linguistic cycle is a name used to describe language change taking place in a systematic manner and direction. Cycles involve the disappearance of a particular word and its renewal by another. Perhaps the most well-known cycle is the Negative Cycle where a negative word may be added to an already negative construction for emphasis after which the first one disappears. This new negative may itself be reinforced by another negative and may then itself disappear.

One of the most quoted descriptions of the linguistic cycle is a passage in von der Gabelentz (1901: 256). Because new cycles are not identical to old ones, one way of characterizing a cycle is as a spiral:

‘The history of language moves in the diagonal of two forces: the impulse toward comfort, which leads to the wearing down of sounds, and that toward clarity, which disallows this erosion and the destruction of the language. The affixes grind themselves down, disappear without a trace; their functions or similar ones, however, require new expression. They acquire this expression, by the method of isolating languages, through word order or clarifying words. The latter, in the course of time, undergo agglutination, erosion, and in the mean time renewal is prepared: periphrastic expressions are preferred … always the same: the development curves back towards isolation, not in the old way, but in a parallel fashion. That’s why I compare them to spirals’ (my translation, EvG).

Why a(nother) workshop?

After the Linguistic Cycle workshop that took place at Arizona State University in April 2008, we plan to do a follow-up in 2014, taking stock of progress and also to see what challenges looking at changes in a cyclical manner brings!

Venue and Guest Speaker:

The workshop will take place on the campus of Arizona State University, presumably in the LL Building. There will be information about accommodation on

The guestspeaker will be T. Givón (University of Oregon and White Cloud Ranch) who plans to speak on pronoun to agreement cycles in Ute `The PRO Cycle’ but who is also interested in other cycles, e.g. the `Dative Cycle’ and the `Parataxis to Syntaxis Cycle’.

Social Program:

There will be a conference dinner on Friday night (free for presenters). If there is enough interest, we can do a hike or trip on Saturday afternoon or Sunday.


Friday 25 April

Refreshments in LL 316

Introduction, Elly van Gelderen LL 60 (basement)

Marianne Mithun, University of Santa Barbara, TBA


Modals in flux

Remus Gergel, University of Graz
Rather: Notes on spiral development number 2

Lukasz Jedrzejowski, Potsdam University
All you need is another ‘need': On the need cycle in the history of German


The Pronoun Cycle

Mariana Bahtchevanova, Arizona State University
The subject cycle and the loss of French object pronouns

Tom Givón, University of Oregon
On the pronoun cycle in Ute & maybe elsewhere

Dinner (free for all participants)

Saturday 26 April LL 02 (basement-North end of Building)

The Analytic Cycle

John McWhorter, Columbia University
Is analyticity normal?

Mary Ann Willie, University of Arizona
Towards a more analytical Navajo

Quantifier Cycles

Johanna Wood, Aarhus University
Reinforcement and renewal: Germanic so and such

The Negative Cycle

Ljuba Veselinova, Stockholm University
The negative existential cycle revisited

Johan van der Auwera & Frens Vossen, University of Antwerp
Jespersen cycles in the Americas

Clifton Pye, University of Kansas
Non-cyclic negation in the Mayan languages

The CP Cycle

Orsolya Tanczos, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Pázmány Péter Catholic University
Cycle by cycle in the history of Udmurt shuisa

Concluding remarks

LINGUIST List: Vol-25-696