General Linguistics

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OV to VO, VO to OV: Word Order Change in an Areal Perspective

 Bielefeld, Germany, June 23-24, 2017 

Conference Description

Changes in basic word order are reported for several language contact situations. For instance, several Turkic languages or varieties of Turkish are reported to change from OV to VO in contact with Indo-European languages; see Gagauz (Menz 1999), Karaim (Csato 2001), Macedonian Turkish (Matras & Tufan 2007), Turkish spoken in the Netherlands (Banaz 2002), while the reverse shift from VO to OV is attested in dialects of North Eastern Neo-Aramaic (Semitic) spoken in contact with Azeri Turkic and Kurdish (e.g. Khan 2008). Similar changes either towards VO or towards OV are reported for several languages around the world; see Harris & Campbell (1995: 136-150) for earlier summary discussion, and Dunn et al. (2011) for a broader perspective on the dispersion of such features in genetically related languages.

This workshop addresses two core questions:

(a) What is the entity of change?

The linearization of verbs and objects has remained a central parameter of traditional word-order typology, and is implicated in some way in most formal approaches to syntax. The question arises as to whether the changes of the OV/VO are part of larger phenomena, concerning the directionality of verb phrases or even more abstract entities (e.g., head and complements), or whether they are a relatively isolatable syntactic feature? In order to address these questions, we welcome contributions that reflect on the syntactic properties of these changes and their correlates.

(b) How does the change proceed in real time?

Language change evolves through variation (between speakers, between registers). We invite contributions to the techniques of examining variation and change with respect to OV/VO and related syntactic aspects. This includes observational (corpora) or experimental methods, ideas about the interpretation of variation between speakers or between age groups or about capturing the effects of bilingual situations.

Invited Speakers

  • Wilbert Heeringa (Fryske Akademy)
  • Michael Rießler (Freiburg University)
  • Aria Adli (University of Cologne)


Friday, 23. June 2017 (Room: X-E0-211)

  • 14:10-14:15 Welcome
  • 14:15-15:15 Wilbert Heeringa
  • 15:15-16:00 Geoffrey Haig
  • 16:30-17:15 Ralf Vogel
  • 17:15-18:15 Aria Adli
  • 18:15-19:00 Discussion

Saturday, 24. June 2017 (Room: X-E0-216)

  • 09:45-10:45 Michael Rießler
  • 10:45-11:30 Diana Forker
  • 12:00-12:45 Stefanie Böhm
  • 12:45-13:30 Johanna Lorenz
  • 14:30-15:15 Erika Asztalos
  • 15:15-16:00 Stavros Skopeteas
  • 16:30-17:15 Nicolaos Neocleous
  • 17:15-18:00 Erika Asztalos, Katalin Gugán and Nikolett Mus

When and where

  • 23-24 June, 2017, Bielefeld University


  • Stefanie Böhm (Bielefeld University)
  • Johanna Lorenz (Bielefeld University)
  • Geoffrey Haig (Bamberg University)
  • Stavros Skopeteas (Bielefeld University)


This workshop is part of the project "The impact of current transformational processes on language and ethnic identity: Urum and Pontic Greeks in Georgia" - funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

Workshop Programme

Workshop Programme

Abstract Booklet


Contact persons

Stefanie Böhm
Johanna Lorenz

The General linguistics research group is part of the Cluster of Excellence in Cognitive Interaction Technology CITEC (EXC 277) and Bielefeld University's Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies.




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Caucasian Urum

Texts, lexicon, sound files, studies (collected in 2009-2011).