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Open access

Natalia Levshina

Abstract

The contrast between direct and indirect causation is the most widely discussed semantic distinction in the literature on causative constructions. This distinction has been claimed to correlate with a number of formal parameters, such as formal distance, productivity and length, which are linked to different functional and diachronic explanations based on the principles of iconicity and economy. The present study tests these claims on a typologically representative sample of languages from 46 diverse families, examining four formal variables and their association with (in)directness of causation. According to the data, formal length displays the most pervasive association with the semantic distinction in question, which supports the economy-based explanation. In addition, the relative prominence of the other formal parameters depends on the type of causatives and their stage of grammaticalization.

Open access

Natalia Levshina

Abstract

The present study investigates the cross-linguistic differences in the use of so-called T/V forms (e.g. French tu and vous, German du and Sie, Russian ty and vy) in ten European languages from different language families and genera. These constraints represent an elusive object of investigation because they depend on a large number of subtle contextual features and social distinctions, which should be cross-linguistically matched. Film subtitles in different languages offer a convenient solution because the situations of communication between film characters can serve as comparative concepts. I selected more than two hundred contexts that contain the pronouns you and yourself in the original English versions, which are then coded for fifteen contextual variables that describe the Speaker and the Hearer, their relationships and different situational properties. The creators of subtitles in the other languages have to choose between T and V when translating from English, where the T/V distinction is not expressed grammatically. On the basis of these situations translated in ten languages, I perform multivariate analyses using the method of conditional inference trees in order to identify the most relevant contextual variables that constrain the T/V variation in each language.