George Balabanian will be defending their dissertation, titled "A Diachronic Analysis of Western Armenian Verbal Morphology", on Thursday June 20th at 11:00 AM EST.


The defense will take place in person in the Linguistics Library (open to all), and on Zoom.


The dissertation is attached, and the abstract is provided below.


Title: A Diachronic Analysis of Western Armenian Verbal Morphology

Supervisor: Donald Ringe

Committee: Rolf Noyer, Eugene Buckley, and Bert Vaux (Cambridge)



This dissertation aims to analyze the Western Armenian (WA) verbal morphology from a diachronic perspective and perform an internal reconstruction to trace the modern Western dialects back to Classical Armenian (CA) or an older, unattested variant of Armenian. The dissertation’s methodology (Chapter 1) is based on comparative dialectology (Chapter 2), theoretical diachronic morphology, and computational modeling. This project delves into classifications based on geography, morphology, and phonetics, elucidating the diverse criteria employed to differentiate and categorize the dialects into various classification schemes (Chapter 3). It acknowledges the challenges involved in analyzing the data, such as the paucity of data in many dialects and incomplete understanding of many WA dialects. The first part synchronically and diachronically compares the verbal systems in CA, Standard Western Armenian (SWA), and around six dozen WA dialects, including extinct or moribund dialects (Chapter 4). The second part discusses shared innovations, historical changes, the complexities of tense/aspect marker shifts, the development of particles and participles, and the interplay between synthetic and analytical forms. The historical development of WA dialects is framed in the context of the two Sprachbünde (Byzantine and Ottoman) and their typological realignment of the verbal structure (Chapter 5). The third part involves a cladistic analysis of all WA dialects based on verbal morphology, using both binary and multistate characters in Chapter 6. It includes a discussion regarding the algorithmically generated trees indicating a large number of proposed clades, culminating in a tree that summarizes the findings of this project and suggests that there likely were sister dialects to CA during and before the 5th century that left their mark in some of the modern dialects. Many dialectal innovations can better be understood as wave-like, and at least a part of the Asia Minor dialects appear to have network-like traits. Data collection, methodological, and theoretical implications are also discussed, along with findings and directions for future research.