Contextualizing historical lexicology. State of the art of the etymological research within linguistics. 15.-17.5.

Date(s) - 15/05/2017 - 17/05/2017
All Day

University of Helsinki

Categories No Categories

Conference Contextualizing historical lexicology. State of the art of the etymological research within linguistics. University of Helsinki, May 15-17 2017

Organized by the project “Inherited and borrowed in the history of the Uralic languages” (funded by Kone Foundation)

As one of the early established fields in linguistics, historical lexicology, and, most notably, etymology, still attracts the interest of linguistic scholars. From early on, they have been a central part of historical-comparative linguistics, and developed in connection with the sound history and the historical grammar.

Two historical processes, that of the inheritance and borrowing, are in the core of language change, and the historical-comparative method. In the historical lexicology, the Indo-European language family, with many early established literary documents has occupied a central position in the studies of inheritance expressed in the reconstruction of protolanguages. Likewise, the study of Uralic languages has probably been on top in the studies regarding borrowings, especially due to early contacts with the well established IE family. Many other language families remain understudied from the point of view of historical lexicology, and the processes of inheritance and borrowing within a language family remain blurred in many contexts.

Currently, new developments are underway, that bring in a historical dimension to the typological linguistics. The processes of grammaticalization, borrowing and language contact as well as polysemy and semantic change are becoming an integral part of the language descriptions and language comparisons. It is, therefore, important to evaluate the context of the historical lexicology as a part of the linguistic science more in detail and integrate it more profoundly to the typological linguistics.

The conference Contextualizing historical lexicology invites scholars with the interest especially on the theory of historical lexicology including etymology, and the language contact in history. The aim is to discuss new developments in the reconstruction of Ianguage contacts, loanword layers, individual etymologies as well as the methodologies of etymology and, on a more general level, historical lexicology. The conference further aims at integration of the etymological studies in the framework of theoretical linguistics by investigating the interface of etymology and grammar, development of vocabulary in several languages simultaneously, and the general tendencies of semantic and phonological development.

Abstracts with no more than 2000 characters should be sent via this e-platform by January 31, 2017. The abstracts will be reviewed by February 10, 2017. For questions, contact Janne Saarikivi ( or Sampsa Holopainen (

Invited speakers

Johanna Nichols, Berkeley, USA
Martine Vanhove, Paris, France
Martin Kümmel, Jena, Germany
Ante Aikio, Guovdageaidnu, Sápmi/Norway