Bernhard Wälchli

Stockholm University



As long as’, ‘until’ and ‘before’ clauses:

Zooming in on linguistic diversity



This paper investigates ‘before’, ‘until’ and ‘as long as’ clauses in the Baltic languages in their wider areal and genealogical context in a sample of 72 modern and ancient doculects of European and Indo-European languages. In a bottom-up construction of the semantic map of ‘before’, ‘until’ and ‘as long as’ connectors from parallel text data, a fourth cluster intermediate between ‘before’ and ‘until’ with negative main clauses is identified. The typology resulting from the different overlaps of clusters locates Baltic languages in an intermediate zone between Western, Eastern, and Northern European languages. This goes hand-in-hand with a high diversity of Baltic languages in their typology of ‘before’, ‘until’ and ‘as long as’ clauses. The temporal connectors found in Baltic varieties can be classified according to whether they originate from strategies expressing temporal identity (simultaneity) or non-identity (non-simultaneity). Many connectors in Baltic derive from correlative constructions and originally express identity, but can then shift from simultaneity towards posteriority as they gradually lose their association with correlative constructions. Since temporal clauses are never atemporal and are hence incompatible with permanent states and since negation often expresses permanent states, negation—a marker of non-identity—is prone to develop non-polarity functions in ‘before’ and ‘until’ clauses. The Baltic and Slavic languages are rich in various kinds of expanded negation (translation equivalents in other languages lack negation) and expletive negation (negation does not have the function of expressing negative polarity) in ‘before’ and ‘until’ clauses. However, indefinite negative pronouns often retain their negative semantic value when standard negation in temporal clauses is expanded and semantically bleached.



Keywords: temporal clauses, posteriority, time, subordination, expletive negation, lexical aspect, correlative constructions, simultaneity, semantic maps, parallel texts