Monthly Lunch Meetings

Our project recently started organising Monthly Lunch Meetings, during which different speakers will present informal papers relating to their research in linguistics. Our first Monthly Lunch Meeting was held on 17 March, during which Marijke van der Wal gave a paper called ‘Language History from Below: Egodocuments and Linguistic Variation in 18th- and 19th-century Dutch’. The paper was a great success and we intend to continue organising these meetings.

The second meeting will be held on 28 April, from 12 to 1 (room 1168-005), when Anni Sairio, a visiting PhD student from Helsinki, will present her paper called ‘A social network of eighteenth-century England: linguistic changes and influences in the Bluestocking correspondence’. The third and fourth speakers will be Pepijn Hendriks and Marian Klamer, who are both members of the Leiden University Centre for Linguistics. These meetings are scheduled for 19 May and 23 June, from 12 to 1 (rooms and titles to be announced).

All those interested are invited to attend these meetings!

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  1. Annegien Theunissen

    I would hereby like to notify the researchers of the Codifiers research group of the presentation that I will give at the colloquium of the Studienkreis Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft which will be held in Leiden from 28-30 June 2006. (NB If this is not the right place to post it, pls. replace it as you consider proper.) My presentation is scheduled on Friday at 14:45.

    Thank you,

    Annegien Theunissen

    XVIII. International Colloquium of the Studienkreis Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft
    Historiography of Linguistics in the 21st century: Challenges and Perspectives
    28-30 Juni 2006, University of Leiden, Leiden, the Netherlands

    The tradition of Chinese word classes

    Annegien Theunissen
    Leiden University, Centre of Japanese and Korean Studies

    In the background of Japanese 18th century grammars – which form the main topic of my research – we can see the influence of concepts from the Chinese tradition. Chinese texts and dictionaries explaining the use of words were transmitted to Japan in the 17th century; they were reprinted, and circulated among scholars. Japanese scholars wrote annotations to these works as well as independent treatises influenced by the Chinese tradition. The following question then presents itself: what are the contents of this Chinese grammatical tradition?
    Several sinologists, like Harbsmeier, Peyraube, and Winkler, have pointed out the absence of a premodern Chinese grammar comparable to that found in the western tradition. These scholars then mention stylistic treatises and dictionaries of grammatical particles as evidence of the existence of grammatical thought and continue to interpret the categories employed in these works.
    I have studied the three works mentioned most: Wenze (12th century), Zhuyuci (1324), and Xuzishuo (1710) in order to find out how word classes such as ‘full words’, ’empty words’, and ‘particles’ were introduced and defined in the sources, and how they were actually applied. My main focus is on how word classifications were devised, how the application of certain concepts yields a specific grammatical model, and how this causes certain items or issues to surface as problematic. I will compare this with the problems described by Ian Michael in English grammatical categories and the tradition to 1800 (1970) as ‘the instability of parts of speech systems’ and modern discussions of word classifications as found in John Cikoski’s (1970) and William Croft’s (1991) works. This comparison of Chinese categories to systems in the English tradition will elucidate the processes of the application of word classes, the conceptual nature of word classifications in general, and the motivations behind grammatical systems.
    Although a more elaborate comparison with the Japanese tradition will be left for another occasion, I will briefly illustrate how a comparison with Japanese scholarship, too, results in a better understanding of the diversity and of the problems of word classifications.

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