On February 12th and 13th, 2010 Slavic linguists in Berkeley’s Slavic Department hosted the conference “Slavic languages: Time and contingency.” The conference brought together scholars of Slavic languages who use a variety of analytic techniques both in investigating the early spread of Slavic: archaeology, genetics, and computer modeling of differences; and in investigating how languages are used: sociolinguistics and contextual approaches that attend to the function of language, whether written or oral.
Participants emerged from the gathering with a synthesis of what is known at this point about certain longstanding problems in Slavic linguistics and a clear formulation of directions for future work. Among the results are: groundwork for a cohesive, multidisciplinary model for addressing problems in the prehistory and spread of Slavic (that has general validity and is extendable to language families outside Slavic); a robust set of approaches for understanding particularly vexing problems in the Balkan Sprachbund; and a clearer understanding of how to address the multiplicity of contingencies in Slavic languages, e.g. how secular vs. religious documents appeal to different governing factors that are linguistically realized by (among other things) their use of participles, direct vs. indirect discourse, and word order.
For more information, including the list of topics, speakers, and abstracts, refer to the conference website.