Special Session on m/Minimalism

Different varieties of Indonesian, Javanese and other ISLOJ/ISMIL languages have been described as conforming to the general Western-Malayo Polynesian (Indonesian-type language) typological pattern characterized by moderately agglutinating morphology, symmetric voice systems, and fixed SVO word order. Alternatively, they have been described as languages with free word order, more isolating morphology, and no or few lexical category distinctions—typologically more like mainland SEA languages. Part of this discrepancy arises from the difference between standard and non-standard varieties. Malay is a macro- language that encompasses a range of native Malay varieties spoken in and around the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, and Borneo; other varieties are based on a lingua franca Malay spoken throughout the Indonesian archipelago; modern colloquial Indonesian varieties; and the highly structured and standardized Indonesian. Javanese, by contrast, has many regional varieties, but its standard variety is based on a prestige variety spoken in the region of traditional political and cultural power. The existence of this range of varieties has led to much research around the question of how minimalist ISMIL/ISLOJ languages are from a typological perspective, especially the non-standard varieties (inter alia Gil 2001, 2005, 2013, 2015; Conners, Bowden, and Gil 2015; Jackendoff and Wittenberg 2014; Enfield 2017; Polinsky and Potsdam In Press) Not only are these varieties relevant for a cross-linguistic understanding and accounts of language complexity, the typological profile of ISMIL/ISLOJ varieties also raises challenges for how best to account in various theoretical frameworks, such as in Minimalism (Chomsky 1995, ff). This special joint ISMIL/ISLOJ session invites papers to address these issues surrounding minimalism and/or Minimalism in light of any of the following questions:

  • How complex are ISMIL/ISLOJ languages cross-linguistically, compared to other Austronesian languages, standard vs. non-standard varieties, between isolects/dialects?
  • How can various theoretical frameworks account for phenomena in ISMIL/ISLOJ languages – particularly more functional (e.g., usage-based, constructionist approaches) or generative frameworks (e.g., the Minimalist program)?
  • How do ISMIL/ISLOJ languages inform various theoretical frameworks, both typologically and formally?

m/Minimalism Keynote speakers:

Maria Polinsky, University of Maryland, College Park

Eva Wittenberg, Central European University