As a self-identified sociolinguist (of sorts), I must admit very abstract descriptive linguistics scares me a little bit. This is a problem for someone like yours truly who works on a language with quite complex verbal morphology. But luckily! There are plenty of opportunities around CoEDL and the Wellsprings project to listen in on talks, attend workshops and summer schools. The following is just a short write up of what I got out of it. I find forming a narrative about events like this helps me to remember some of the cool stuff that came out of the workshop, but it also helps to put my own work into perspective,.
The workshop was great because not only did we get to hear directly from some legendary linguists of various subfields of study (the photo on this post featuring Gregory Stump of the Paradigm-Function Morphology fame!), but also great because they are an opportunity to see the breadth of interest that various linguists have under blunt labels such as “morphology” or “sociolinguistics” or what have you. I may not every become a theoretical morphologist, but it was great to see things like how typological approaches to comparing inflectional paradigms is being tried and tested (Grev Corbett with Canonical Typology, or the Parabank mob of the Glottobank project applying phylogenetic models to inflectional paradigms). There was also cool stuff by Felicity Meakins, Bill Foreshaw and John Mansfield doing corpus work on Australian languages and asking questions of inflection in their respective research languages.
But I guess for me, it was an opportunity to pick up on the kinds of discussions that self-identified morphologists find interesting, and important to figure out. There were a lot of questions on how to best account for complex paradigmatic particularities of individual languages, the relationship between syntax and morphology, ideas that inflectional morphemes may have structures of their own, how sub-paradigms are a thing and how that interacts with syntax (or vice-versa)… A lot of the detailed nuances were a bit beyond me, but it was intensely useful in a quick-and-dirty way to see what is considered important, and I think it’ll help me get a better leg in on describing Nambo’s verbal paradigm (i.e. I’ve now a better idea what to look out for in the data, and where to go in terms of literature for help!)
Cheers to my sempai Matt Carroll for being one leg of the organisation 🙂 (The other being one of my former lecturers Rachel Nordlinger). Tomorrow starts the CoeDL Summer School for more intensive linguisticking, hurrr.