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LINGUIST List 19.652

Wed Feb 27 2008

Confs: Ling Theories,Semantics,Syntax,Typology,Text/Corpus Ling/Belgium

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        1.    Bernard De Clerck, A Cross-linguistic Reflection on Verb Typologies

Message 1: A Cross-linguistic Reflection on Verb Typologies
Date: 27-Feb-2008
From: Bernard De Clerck <bernard.declerckugent.be>
Subject: A Cross-linguistic Reflection on Verb Typologies
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A Cross-linguistic Reflection on Verb Typologies

Date: 05-Feb-2009 - 07-Feb-2009
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Contact: Bernard De Clerck
Contact Email: verbtypology2009ugent.be

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Semantics;
Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics; Typology

Meeting Description:

The Ghent University CONTRAGRAM research team is proud to announce an
International Conference on Verb Typologies to be held at Ghent, 5-7 February
2009. The meeting is organized in collaboration with the French, English and
Dutch department of Ghent University and is to be positioned against the larger
background of the research project Meaning in between structure and the lexicon.
Papers presented will be from both a theoretical as well as a practical point of
view with the goal of achieving cross-fertilization and new insights on verb

Existing verb typologies have gone a long way in systematically categorising
verbs into verb classes, be it on syntactic grounds, semantic grounds, or a
combination of both, by capturing the relationship between lexical properties,
semantic roles and syntactic behaviour in more or less refined verb
classifications (cf. Dixon, 1991, Levin 1993; Dubois and Dubois-Charlier 1997,
Verbnet, etc.,). There are, however, still many aspects which require further

A first problem is situated at a theoretical level with respect to terminology
and definitions. Not only do the 'same' verb classes often receive different
labels, the same labels are often conceptualised in a different way (based on
different parameters) both within and across languages. A more systematic and
uniform treatment and conceptualisation of these labels and classes is called for.

Secondly, existing typologies vary consistently in terms of granularity going
from very general (Vendler) to very specific (Levin and subsequent extensions).
The choice of semantic categories and the level of granularity depend of course
on the theoretical assumptions of the researchers, but there is need of
redressing the balance and finding a compromise between what is actually
possible on the one hand and what is actually desirable in terms of linguistic
description on the other hand. Once such a compromise is found, one can look
into the specificity and similarities of different verb typologies from a
cross-linguistic perspective.

Thirdly, data analysis shows that classifications which are mainly
intuition-based are not free from mistakes or do not capture all patterns or all
verbs. Research within computational linguistics (Korhonen et al. 2003, Lapata
and Brew 2004, Kipper-Schuler 2005, Merlo 2005, Schulte im Walde 2006,
forthcoming etc.) has shown that existing classifications can easily and
(semi)-automatically be upgraded with more verbs, more verb classes and more
refined subcategorisations (based on other complementation patterns). However,
there are methodological issues at stake and automatic induction itself is not
without limits or shortcomings.

Fourthly, there is the important question of the status of verb classes and verb
classifications in speakers' mental grammars and/or lexicons, and the interplay
between lexical and constructional semantics, or, put differently, the division
of labour between verbs and constructions (issues brought to the fore with the
rise of Construction Grammar and related frameworks). To what extent do theories
of argument realization and the syntax/semantics-interface need to refer to
(detailed) verb classifications?

Papers presented will be from both a theoretical as well as a practical point of
view with the goal of achieving cross-fertilization and new insights on verb
typologies from a cross-linguistic and contrastive perspective. We particularly
welcome papers on the following topics:

Contrastive analyses of verbs, verb classes and typologies
Corpus-based studies on verbs and verb classes
Reflections on classification systems and criteria (and related terminology)
The relation between verb classes and polysemy which raises issues such as the
possibility of multiple class membership and/or fuzzy class boundaries
The interplay between meaning, grammar and the verbal lexicon
The status of verb classes in grammatical theory and in speakers' mental grammars.

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