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Conference Information

Full Title: Ditransitives in Germanic Languages

Short Title: DinG
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Start Date: 10-Sep-2017 - 13-Sep-2017
Contact: Eva Zehentner
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: This workshop aims to showcase and bring together research on ditransitive constructions in West-Germanic languages and their dialects past and present.

Most basically, ditransitives can be defined as verbs involving three semantic roles, namely an agent, a recipient-like argument, and a theme. As exemplified in the following sentences, in Germanic languages these verbs typically occur in (or alternate between) nominal and prepositional patterns, although the association between these patterns is not equally systematic and pervasive in all languages.

(1) English:

a. The man sent his brother a book.
b. The man sent a book to his brother.

(2) Dutch:

a. De man heeft zijn broer een boek gestuurd.
b. De man heeft een boek aan zijn broer gestuurd.

(3) German:

a. Der Mann schickte seinem Bruder ein Buch.
b. Der Mann schickte ein Buch (zu) seinem Bruder.

In English, ditransitives are among the most extensively researched syntactic constructions, with the 'dative alternation' exemplified in (1) having received a great deal of attention across all theoretical frameworks (see e.g. Green 1974; Barss & Lasnik 1986, Pinker 1989; Goldberg 1995, 2006; Croft 2003; Levin & Rappaport Hovav 2005; Mukherjee 2005; Gerwin 2014; Perek 2015). However, even within English, studies have mainly focused on synchronic descriptions of ditransitives, while interest in diachronic aspects of ditransitives has only rather recently been sparked (e.g. Colleman & De Clerck 2011; De Cuypere 2015; Yáñez-Bouza & Denison 2015; Zehentner 2016). The last decades have also seen a growing interest in ditransitives in other Germanic languages (e.g. Barðdal 2008; Colleman 2009), and in the typology of ditransitives in general (Malchukov, Haspelmath & Comrie 2010).

Despite the broad coverage in the literature, we still know little about the cross-linguistic pervasiveness of ditransitive constructions (be they historical or synchronic), the variability of factors that drive the choice of dative variant, and the cognitive reality of these factors. It is the aim of this panel to tackle and, if possible, bridge these gaps. More specifically, the research questions that this panel would like to address may include but are not restricted to:

1) To what extent do language-external factors, such as time, register or region, influence the ordering of constituents in ditransitives?
2) How does the diachronic development of ditransitives in one Germanic language relate to another? What differences or similarities can be found and how can we explain them?
3) To what extent do psycholinguistic processes (e.g. processing) offer explanations for regional or historical differences in ditransitives?
4) How are ditransitives (and alternation relationships) cognitively represented, and are these cognitive representations cross-linguistically robust?
5) How can we account for idiosyncratic or rare patterns, as well as unexpected constraints and biases in the use of ditransitives?
6) Are ditransitives socially malleable and if so, to what extent?

Workshop Convenors:

Timothy Collemann (Ghent University)
Melanie Röthlisberger (KU Leuven)
Eva Zehentner (University of Vienna)
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics
LL Issue: 27.4141

This is a session of the following meeting:
50th Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea

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