George Balabanian passes proposal defense

On April 14, 2023, George Balabanian, advised by Don Ringe, successfully defended his PhD proposal, entitled "A Diachronic Analysis of Western Armenian Verbal Morphology” (abstract below). His proposal committee included Rolf Noyer and Gene Buckley and was chaired by Mark Liberman.

Abstract: The proposed 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 is based on comparative dialectology, theoretical diachronic morphology, and computational modeling. This project 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 compares the verbal systems in CA, Standard Western Armenian (SWA), and around three dozen Western dialects, including extinct or moribund dialects. The second part focuses on discussing the historical changes and 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. The third part involves an internal reconstruction of key elements of the verbal system using computational models, the preliminary results of which are in this proposal. Methodological and theoretical implications are also discussed, along with findings and directions for future research.