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LINGUIST List 23.4450

Wed Oct 24 2012

Calls: Morphology, Syntax, Typology/Croatia

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

Date: 24-Oct-2012
From: András Bárány <ab2081cam.ac.uk>
Subject: Workshop on Differential Subject Marking and Ergativity
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Full Title: Workshop on Differential Subject Marking and Ergativity
Short Title: DSM and Ergative Phenomena

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

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 12-Nov-2012

Meeting Description:

Proposal for a workshop on differential subject marking (DSM) and ergative phenomena at the 46th Annual Meeting of the SLE, 18-21 September 2013

This workshop aims at describing and possibly clarifying the relation between differential subject marking (DSM) and ergative phenomena. While differential object marking (DOM) has received much attention for many years, research on DSM is fairly new.

It has been claimed that DSM occurs primarily in ergative languages, whereas DOM is prevalent in accusative languages. This raises the interesting question of whether it possible to consider these two systems as surface manifestations of the same deep parameter, although this generalisation does not hold across all languages.

Another issue concerns potential parallels between DSM and DOM which have not, to our knowledge, been fully explored. It is well known, for example, that DOM is closely connected with movement of the object (scrambling) in many languages (e.g. Hindi, Persian, Turkish). While there are some instances where object movement appears to give rise to DSM, it is not clear widespread this is.

A further problem concerns how the availability of valency alternations interacts with alignment systems and differential marking. It has been claimed that passives are generally found in accusative systems whereas antipassives are limited to ergative systems. It is suggested that DSM occurs as an alternative strategy to passivisation in ergative languages.

In addition to addressing whether this typology really holds, we welcome papers that discuss whether this supposed distribution might follow from functional considerations or from more abstract constraints on the computational system. Of particular interest in this regard are the parallel contexts in which diathesis and DSM occur: both typically indicate the loss of volition on the part of the agent. Whether this is a fair characterisation of either phenomenon remains an interesting question. We particularly welcome data from understudied languages that might shed light on these issues.

Call for Papers:

We invite 300 word abstracts on any of the topics mentioned above and in particular on the following research questions:

- Does DSM exist in accusative languages?
- What types of ergative systems show DSM? Morphological, split-S, extended-S?
- Do split-S and fluid-S alignments result from DSM or is this a separate phenomenon?
- How should DSM be modelled theoretically? Is a unified account of differential marking possible or desirable?
- Is there any connection between the position of a subject in a given language and its Case marking (in the way that DOM and scrambling often go together)? Should the domain of DSM include structural differences and movement?
- Does DSM always adhere to Silverstein's (1976) animacy hierarchy?
- Should passives be seen as an instance of DSM or a distinct phenomenon?

The abstracts will be submitted together with the present workshop proposal to the organisers of the 2013 SLE meeting. If the proposal is accepted, participants will be asked to provide full abstracts. The deadline for submission of the first abstracts is 12 November 2012.

The full Call for papers including references is available at:


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