LINGUIST List 24.1147

Thu Mar 07 2013

Confs: Syntax/Spain

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <>

Date: 07-Mar-2013
From: Ane Odria <>
Subject: Towards a Theory of Syntactic Variation
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Towards a Theory of Syntactic Variation Short Title: TTSV13

Date: 05-Jun-2013 - 07-Jun-2013 Location: Bilbao, Spain Contact: Beatriz Fernández Contact Email: < click here to access email > Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax

Meeting Description:

The language research groups Basdisyn (Basque Dialect Syntax) and The Bilingual Mind co-organize an International Workshop entitled Towards a Theory of Syntactic Variation. The workshop will take place in Bilbao, The Basque Country, June 5-7, 2013. The goal of the workshop is to provide a forum of discussion on different approaches to the nature of syntactic variation and its place in linguistic theory.

The Principles and Parameters model of grammar (Chomsky, 1981, henceforth P&P) conceived of syntactic variation as a systematic phenomenon resulting from combinations of a finite set of discrete parameters of binary values, such as the pro-drop parameter or the head parameter, among others. The interplay between invariant principles and experience-dependent parameters has been argued to be a central distinguishing feature of the language faculty. However, there is currently no prevailing view on the nature of syntactic variation both inside and outside generative linguistics. On the one hand, some authors outside generative grammar hold the view that linguistic traits are not discrete properties, but at best constitute statistically based generalizations, and that individual languages offer radically different answers to communicative needs of shared intentionality, so that there is no possible general theory of variation in syntax (e.g. Evans and Levinson 2009). On the other hand, and within generative linguistics, the success of the P&P model in accounting for cross-linguistic variation patterns of human grammars has been subject of much criticism (Newmeyer 2004, 2005, 2006, Boeckx 2011). Syntactic variation has thus become a key aspect of the debate in current linguistics regarding the very nature of human language and the ultimate source of its diversity. Following on the wake of the P&P model, new concepts such as macro and micro parameters have been proposed (Baker 2003, 2008, Kayne 2000, 2005), which take different views on how to account for systematic aspects of syntactic variation. The Kaynean view, tightly related to what Baker (2008) calls the Borer/Chomsky conjecture, attributes syntactic variation to differences in the features of functional lexical items. Roberts and Holmberg (2005, 2010) provide a new perspective into a parameter-based theory that attempts to reconcile micro and macro variation in syntax. Other observations drastically distant from parameter-based theories have been also made (Boeckx 2010, 2011).

The status of syntactic variation is undergoing profound rethinking in contemporary generative syntax, with alternative proposals to the classical P&P model. This Workshop aims at gathering and discussing different views on the nature of syntactic variation in language and will be of much interest to syntactic researchers, graduate students, and more in general, to all those interested in linguistic variation and linguistic theory.

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Richard S. Kayne(NYU)
Indefinite articles in Germanic and Romance

Chair: Beatriz Fernández (UPV/EHU)

Mafioso parameters and the limits of syntactic variation
Theresa Biberauer (Univ. of Cambridge), Ian Roberts (Univ. of Cambridge) & Michelle L. Sheehan (Univ. of Cambridge)

Chair: Milan Rezac (CNRS-IKER UMR 5478)

Towards a (non-syntactic) theory of variation
Evelina Leivada (Univ. de Barcelona) & Cedric Boeckx (ICREA, Univ. de Barcelona)

Coffee Break

How can merge-based efficiency-compliant mechanism deal with a ‘head-initial vs. head-final’ variation?
Hisatsugu Kitahara (Keio Univ.)

Chair: Arantzazu Elordieta (UPV/EHU)

The head parameter as encoded into functional categories
Jun Abe (Tohoku Gakuin Univ.)


Microvariation in Welsh pronouns and agreement
David Willis (Univ. of Cambridge)

Chair: Peter Kosta (Univ. of Postdam)

Syntactic variation in Romance v
Angel Gallego (Univ. Autònoma de Barcelona)

Coffee Break


The historical reality of parametric variation
Giusepe Longobardi (Univ. of Trieste), Cristina Guardiano (Univ. di Modena e Reggio Emilia), Giuseppina Silvestri (Univ. di Trieste), Andrea Ceolin (Univ. di Trieste), Luca Bortolussi (Univ. di Trieste), Andrea Sgarro (Univ. di Trieste)

Chair: Jon Ortiz de Urbina (Deusto Univ.)

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Esther Torrego (Ikerbasque, UPV/EHU)

Chair: Itziar Laka (UPV/EHU)

Formal features and ergative variation
Edith Aldridge (Univ. of Washington)

Chair: Ricardo Etxepare (CNRS-IKER UMR 5478)

Towards a parameter hierarchy for alignment
Michelle L. Sheehan (Univ. of Cambridge)

Coffee Break

Micro- and macro-parameters in Mayan syntactic ergativity
Robert Henderson (McGill Univ.), Jessica Coon (McGill Univ.) & Lisa Travis (McGill Univ.)

Chair: Ane Berro (UPV/EHU)

12:20/ 13:00
Locating variation in person restrictions: When they arise and how to get out of them
Martin Walkow (UCLA)


Keynote Speaker: Hagit Borer (Queen Mary, Univ. of London)

Chair: Robert A. Freidin (Princeton Univ.)

Coffee Break

A tale of two datives
Ulyana Savchenko (Univ. of Toronto) & Yves Roberge (Univ. of Toronto)

Chair: Pablo Albizu (UPV/EHU)

The Generalized Applicative Hypothesis
Dimitris Michelioudakis (Univ. of Cambridge)

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Keynote Speaker: Ian Roberts(Univ. of Cambridge)

Chair: Aritz Irurtzun (CNRS-IKER UMR 5478)

Unexpected variation between EP and BP – rethinking parameters
Manuela Ambar (Univ. de Lisboa)

Chair: Maia Duguine (UPV/EHU)

A unified account for Italian pro-drop and German topic-drop
Nobu Goto (Mie Univ.)

Coffee Break

Syntactic variation in nominal root compounding
Leah S. Bauke (Goethe University)

Chair: Urtzi Etxeberria (CNRS-IKER UMR 5478)

12:20/ 13:00
Toward microparameters of mass and count
Amy Rose Deal (Univ. of California)


Language variation and the nature of parametric dependencies
Cedric Boeckx (ICREA, Univ. de Barcelona) & Evelina Leivada (Univ. de Barcelona)

Chair: Myriam Uribe-Etxebarria (UPV/EHU)

Parametric view on Tense Projection
Ryosuke Shibagaki (Nanzan Univ.) & Hideki Kishimoto (Kobe Univ.)

Coffee Break

Partial wh-movement revisited: A microcomparative perspective
Eefje Boef (ZAS Berlin)

Chair: Bill Haddican (City Univ. of New York)

Why is Integrated Parenthetical integrated?
Yasuyuki Fukutomi (Fukushima Univ.)

Page Updated: 07-Mar-2013