Leibniz MMS Days 2024 - Abstract

Mitrović, Moreno

Modelling and Simulating The Role of Register Variation in Semantic Change

Our project investigates, models, and simulates the interaction between language change and register knowledge: how is change driven, in which direction, and is it propelled from above (by higher registers) or below (by lower registers)? By studying one of the most common words, änd", we focus on extinct Indo-European languages which had two such words for conjunction, e.g. Latin "que" and "et". While these two words had different grammatical properties, our preliminary study on the history of Latin across formal and informal registers shows that the use and grammatical presence of one, as opposed to the other, conjunction marker correlates strongly with register. We also aim to expand dramatically the empirical scope by investigating several other Indo-European families, and their relative historical developments, in order to determine the diachronic life of conjunction makers and whether (and how) register propels semantic change.