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LINGUIST List 23.4263

Fri Oct 12 2012

Calls: Syntax, Semantics, Historical Linguistics/Croatia

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <alisonlinguistlist.org>

Date: 11-Oct-2012
From: Lukasz Jedrzejowski <jedrzejowskizas.gwz-berlin.de>
Subject: Infinitives at the Syntax-Semantics Interface: A Diachronic Perspective
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Full Title: Infinitives at the Syntax-Semantics Interface: A Diachronic Perspective

Date: 18-Sep-2013 - 21-Sep-2013
Location: Split, Croatia
Contact Person: Lukasz Jedrzejowski
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Semantics; Syntax

Call Deadline: 07-Nov-2012

Meeting Description:

Infinitives at the Syntax-Semantics Interface: A Diachronic Perspective

Recent decades are marked with considerable progress in the study of non-finite structures both in cross-linguistic investigations and in the descriptions of individual languages. Most of these studies, however, are restricted to selected synchronic phenomena and are meant to contribute to the long-standing discussion of two competing minimalist approaches, viz. Movement Theory of Control and Agree Theory of Control. This workshop is intended to be a forum for the discussion of infinitival structures from a diachronic point of view and its aim is twofold. First, we would like to investigate the notional character of changes in relation to miscellaneous infinitival patterns and their consequences within verbal systems in general. Second, we would like to extend the field of investigation to include not only infinitival patterns as such, but also phenomena that (in)directly may change the distribution, the nature and the licensing conditions of infinitives, e.g. semantic change of infinitive-embedding predicates, evolution of the coherence vs. incoherence opposition, grammaticalization of infinitival markers, etc.

Call for Papers:

We invite contributions that deal with all kinds of historical aspects of infinitives, put the aforementioned minimalist competition in the rear, but that nonetheless are theoretically informed. The main questions to be addressed in this theme session may, but do not need to, be formulated as follows:

a) What role does the different status of the infinitive (e.g. in German: bare infinitive vs. 'to'-infinitive) play in the development of non-finite complementation patterns (Los 2005)? To what extent does the grammaticalization of originally local-allative prepositions affect the infinitival complementation in general (Abraham 2004)? Is there any additional evidence for the grammaticalization of the preposition 'to' and its counterparts in other languages? How did infinitive complements develop in languages having only bare infinitives, e.g. in most Slavonic languages?

b) How can one account for and what are the emergence circumstances of the (strong) (in)coherence opposition and different predicate classes: incoherent predicates, optionally coherent predicates and obligatorily coherent predicates (Bech 1955)? What is the status of the Third Construction in the history of infinitival complements (Wöllstein-Leisten 2001)? What role does the restructuring play (ter Beek 2008)? Are there any available diachronic data for long passive (Höhle 1978)? Are these changes explicable in terms of the grammaticalization theory?

c) In what way do infinitival complements compete with other sentential complements, e.g. '-ing'-complements in English (Fanego 1996, de Smet & Cuyckens 2007) and subjunctive/indicative complements in Romance or Balkan languages (Joseph 2009, Martin 2007)? Do they compete against each other or do they express different kinds of attitudes toward what is embedded? If they do compete, what is the motivation behind this rivalry? Are there any observable complementation cycles (van Gelderen 2011, Pye 2009)?

d) How strong is the relationship between the infinitive-embedding predicates and their semantics? To what extent can the semantic change of a clause-embedding predicate trigger/prohibit the selection of an infinitive complement? What might be the prerequisite for infinitival complementation patterns in general? Is there any historical explanation for why some matrix predicates construe with both to-infinitives and bare infinitives (German: 'helfen', 'lernen','lehren'), whereas other matrix predicates admit only one option ('to'-infinitive or bare infinitive)? Are infinitive complements embedded according to a universal grammaticalization path (Haspelmath 1989) or are there other factors affecting the embedding (Demske 2001)?

e) How do raising predicates emerge? Is their origin rooted in their control counterparts? Do all raising predicates undergo a subjectification/grammaticalization process (Traugott 1989, 1997) or should they rather be treated as two different phenomena (Axel 2001, Demske 2008)? Do the oldest language periods possess optional/obligatory raising structures (van der Auwera & Noel 2011)?

f) How did retroactive infinitives evolve (Dotlacil & Simik, to appear)? How far do changes in other subsystems (agreement, case assignment, etc.) affect the interpretation of embedded, phonologically non-realized subjects?

g) To what extent is it possible to 'measure' the influence of Latin on the oldest periods of other languages? Are there any non-finite Latin calques that have permeated into the oldest stages of modern languages (Speyer 2001)?

h) Are there any differences between the development of non-finite complement clauses and adjunct clauses? How old are absentive constructions (Dutch: Anna is zwemmen 'Anna is off swimming')? To what extent are they diachronically alike non-finite purpose clauses (Fortmann & Wöllstein 2012)? What environmental factors enable/constrain the evolution of non-finite conditional clauses (Polish: Nawet gdyby przyjac, ze … lit. even if assume.inf that: 'assuming that ...'' vs. German: *Sogar wenn annehmen, dass…)?

i) How important is the presence of infinitives in the development of covert patterns of modality (Bhatt 2006): (i) embedded questions (Gärtner 2009), (ii) 'for-to'-infinitives (Hackl & Nissenbaum 2012), (iii) modal existential 'wh'-constructions (Simik 2011), etc.?

j) What is the main function of infinitives in the development of independent clauses (Reis 2003)? What do the evolution of root infinitives and the illocutionary force have in common? Since when can independent infinitives be attested and under which circumstances do they occur?

The aim of the workshop is thus to bring together scholars working on infinitives from a diachronic perspective and to broaden our view on their functional as well as formal properties. The preference will be given to corpus-based contributions integrating new case studies, different theoretical approaches and some of the questions outlined above.

We invite submissions of abstracts for 20 minutes talks (+ 10 minutes discussion) and ask potential participants to send their proposals before November 7 in order to provide us sufficient time to prepare the final version of the workshop proposal. Abstracts should indicate the author's name, affiliation and email.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words (in English), excluding references should be sent by email to one of the following email addresses:


Questions or enquires can also be sent to Lukasz Jedrzejowski, jedrzejowskizas.gwz-berlin.de.

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