Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

The diachrony of logical atoms (DIALOGA)

Natural languages display a surprising diversity of expression of elementary logical operations. The study of this variation is emerging as an important topic of cross-linguistic semantics. While in modern English, words for expression of conjunction (‘and’), universal quantification (‘all’), additivity (‘also’), or negative polarity and free-choice inferences (‘any’) clearly represent distinct morpho-semantic categories, two thirds (67%) of world’s languages (Gil, 2011) express all such meanings using uniform morphemes (I dub such morphemes 'Superparticles'). Investigation of the cross-linguistic prominence of employing superparticles opens new avenues of research that integrates cross-linguistic typology and linguistic theory with diachronic linguistics, especially the changes within the Indoeuropean family from a  Superparticle system in Hittite to the modern languages (see figure 1).