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Non-pro-drop in the Baltic Area: for and against contact-induced origin

March 3, 16 00 - 18 00 Evgeniya Budennaya will make a presentation at The Linguistic Convergence Laboratory seminar 


Five geographically close languages to the east of the Baltic sea – Russian (East Slavic), Latvian (Baltic), Ingrian, Votic and Ingrian Finnish (Finnic) – use a similar pattern for marking subject reference. In this pattern both personal pronouns and subject agreement on the verb are employed (from ⅔ to ¾ of all occurrences). This happens with all types of personhood:
(1) Russian:
Ja id-u domoj
I.NOM go.PRS-1SG home
‘I go home’
(2) Latvian:
par k-o t-u domā-ø ? -
about what-ACC 2SG-NOM think.PRS-2SG
‘What are you thinking about?’
(3) Ingrian:
hǟ kūl-i-ø
3SG.NOM die-PST-3SG
‘She is dead’
However, this double-marking pattern is extremely uncommon over the world where most languages are either pro-drop with verbal inflection (61%, WALS) or non-pro-drop without any additional verbal inflection (Siewierska 2004). Taken together the geographical proximity of the languages under discussion and the typological rarity of the referential pattern itself, one can treat it as an areal feature which could not arise independently (Kibrik 2013). The talk will trace this feature diachronically and discuss the results for Russian, Latvian and minor Finnic. Special attention will be given to the controversy of whether we deal with a similar contact-induced change in Latvian and minor Finnic or with two different processes that eventually converged into an apparently similar pattern.