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Conference Information

Full Title: DGfS 2014 Workshop: Semantics of Complement Clauses

Location: Marburg, Germany
Start Date: 05-Mar-2014 - 07-Mar-2014
Contact: Björn Wiemer, Kasper Boye
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Research on complementation has to a large extent focused on syntactic and morphological aspects. For instance, in Noonan (2007: 54-55), one of the standard references on the subject, complement types are distinguished on the basis of three criteria that are all morphological or syntactic: ‘(i) the morphology of the predicate [of the complement], (ii) the kind of syntactic relations the predicate has with its arguments (complement-internal syntax), (iii) the syntactic relation of the complement construction as a whole with the rest of the sentence (complement external syntax)’. For some time, though, it has been clear that there is also a considerable semantic side to the issue. In the early 1970’s, Kiparsky & Kiparsky (1971) drew attention to an epistemic modal relationship, known as ‘factivity’, between complements and complement taking elements. Frajzyngier (1991; 1995) demonstrated that complementizers can have modal meanings (in fact, he argued that all complementizers are modal; however, ‘modality’ was conceived of as a very broad notion, including also contrasts of [+/- factive] or [+/- real]). These insights have inspired subsequent research. For instance, Lees’, Vendlers’ and Lyons’ distinctions have been applied to perception-verb complements (e.g., Dik & Hengeveld 1991, Boye 2010) and to modal complements’ (Palmer 1979: 35, Perkins 1983: 7-8). Nordström (2010) has pursued Frajzyngier’s idea that complementizers are basically ‘modal’. Moreover, attention has been drawn to complement contrasts that can be understood either as pertaining to modality in a narrow sense, or to mood or (ir)realis. See, e.g., Zaitseva (1995) on Russ. čto ‘that’ vs. budto ‘as if’, Wiemer (2010: 291-298) for a survey concerning languages in the Eastern part of Europe.

However, with the exception of issues related to factivity, complementizer semantics remains heavily understudied and poorly understood. In addition, the subject suffers from lack of clarity about the different notions and distinctions invoked: modality, state-of-affairs vs. proposition, (ir)realis, mood, (non)factivity, etc. This workshop is intended as a first step to remedy this situation.
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Semantics; Syntax; Typology
LL Issue: 24.2612

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