LINGUIST List 24.2454

Mon Jun 17 2013

Calls: Semantics, Syntax, Morphology/Belgium

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <>

Date: 16-Jun-2013
From: Jeroen van Craenenbroeck <>
Subject: GLOW Semantics Workshop: Understanding Possession
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Full Title: GLOW Semantics Workshop: Understanding Possession
Date: 05-Apr-2014 - 05-Apr-2014 Location: Brussels, Belgium Contact Person: Jeroen van Craenenbroeck
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:
Linguistic Field(s): Morphology; Semantics; Syntax

Call Deadline: 01-Dec-2013

Meeting Description:

The 37th annual meeting of GLOW will be hosted by CRISSP, a research center of KU Leuven HUBrussel. The GLOW Semantics workshop will take place in Brussels (Belgium) on Saturday April 5, 2014. Its theme is ‘Understanding Possession’.

Invited Speakers:

Chris Barker (New York University)
Kilu von Prince (ZAS Berlin)

Call for Papers:

Possessive relations are expressed in the world’s languages by a myriad of dedicated grammatical means. In recent years, possession has received notable attention from semanticists as well as (morpho)syntacticians (see Barker 2011 and Börjars & Denison 2013 for recent overviews). Despite these efforts, many important aspects of how possession is encoded in human language remain poorly understood.

The aim of the workshop is to bring semanticists and (morpho)syntacticians together to enhance our understanding of possession.

The expression of possession typically involves a possessee, a possessor and an element that marks the existence of a possessive relation. The semantic and syntactic properties of these three interact with pragmatics as well as with the morphosyntactic and semantic context. At each of these levels important questions arise.


With respect to the possessee, Partee (1983/1997), Löbner (1985), De Bruin & Scha (1988), Barker (1995) and many others propose that a distinction must be made between relational and non-relational - or sortal - nouns. Relational nouns semantically function as two-place predicates, while non-relational nouns behave as one-place predicates. This distinction between relational and sortal nouns raises several important questions:

- What is the connection between semantic and syntactic arguments (see e.g. Von Prince 2012)?
- Is a two-place lexical entry the only way to arrive at relational interpretations (see e.g. Partee & Borschev 2003 and Le Bruyn, de Swart & Zwarts 2013)?
- Are some possessive constructions limited either to relational or sortal nouns, as proposed by Barker (1995)?
- Can the relational vs. sortal distinction derive the split between alienable and inalienable possession (see e.g. Vergnaud & Zubizeretta 2003, Chappell & McGregor 1996, Aikhenvald & Dixon 2013 for discussion) or is a further semantic decomposition of possessed nouns needed to do so?


Some possessive constructions impose semantic and syntactic restrictions on the possessor. For example: (i) The Dutch possessive –s suffix can only occur on proper names, (ii) Possessors that co-occur with linking morphemes in the Austronesian language Daakaka must be animate (Von Prince 2012). Such restrictions raise the follow questions:

- In which module of the grammar do these restrictions arise? Semantics, the lexicon, morphology or syntax? Or are they the result of interplay between these modules?
- What is the range of cross-linguistic variation with respect to these restrictions and how can we account for (the restrictions on) this variation?
- In some languages, non-pronominal possessors can be doubled by a possessive pronoun (e.g. Dutch Jan zijn boek (Jan his book)):
- What are the morphosyntactic properties of such possessor doubling (see e.g. Grohmann & Haegeman 2003, Corver & Van Koppen 2010, Salzmann & Georgi 2011, Schoorlemmer 2012)?
- How is possessor doubling interpreted by the semantics?

Possession Markers:

The world’s languages display an impressive array of variation with respect to the morphosyntactic means to signal possession (see e.g. Aikhenvald & Dixon 2013; Börjars & Denison 2013; Nichols & Bickel 2005; Dryer 2005). It can be signaled by genitive case, prepositions, dedicated possessive markers, construct state, etc. The relation between this morphosyntactic variation and the semantics of possession remains largely unexplored in the literature.

- Do different markers of possession invoke different semantics (see e.g. Partee & Borschev 2003 for discussion)?
- Does the marker itself introduce a relational semantics or does it merely reflect that another element does so?
- Is there a limit on the morphosyntactic variation in possession marking and how can we account for (the restrictions on) this variation?

Semantic Composition, Syntactic Structure, Context and Pragmatics:

Finally, the role of semantic composition, syntactic structure, context and pragmatics in possession is still poorly understood.

- Which semantic compositional processes play a role in possession?
- What is the syntactic structure of possessive constructions (see e.g. Szabolcsi 1983, Kayne 1994, Den Dikken 1998, Corver 2003, Coene & d’Hulst 2003)? How does this syntactic structure relate to semantic composition?
- Can the syntax and semantics of possession be reduced to that of locative constructions (see e.g. Freeze 1992, Kayne 1993, Belvin & Den Dikken 1997)?
- Is there any competition between possession markers, and if so, are there any meaning effects associated with this competition (see e.g. Le Bruyn & Alexandropoulou 2013 for a recent discussion on French inalienable possession)?
- How much of relational interpretations can be derived from context or pragmatic reasoning (see e.g. Vikner & Jensen 2002 for discussion)?

We invite abstracts for 35 minute talks (25 talk, 10 discussion) that enhance our understanding of possession by either directly or indirectly addressing one or more of the above questions. Possible formats include but are not limited to:

- New theoretical insights in the semantics or (morpho)syntax of possession.
- Theoretical (semantic, (morpho)syntactic or pragmatic) explorations of possession that aim to derive (part of) the variation we find cross-linguistically.
- Studies - synchronic or diachronic - of (part of) a language specific possession paradigm, both from well-studied and lesser-studied languages, that show us what the relevant semantic or (morpho)syntactic building blocks of possession patterns are.
- Micro- or macro-comparative studies of (parts of) possession paradigms, that show us what the relevant semantic or (morpho)syntactic parameters underlying the variation in possession patterns are.
- Studies working out the semantics of previously explored syntactic/morphological analyses, investigating how syntax/morphology maps to semantics.

Abstract Submission Guidelines:

- Abstracts must not exceed two A4 pages in length (including data and references), have one inch (2.5 cm) margins on all sides, and be set in Times New Roman with a font size no smaller than 12pt and single line spacing.
- Examples must be integrated into the text of the abstract, rather than collected at the end.
- Nothing in the abstract, the title, or the name of the document should identify the author(s).
- At most two submissions per author, at most one of which can be single-authored. The same abstract may not be submitted to both the main colloquium and a workshop.
- Only submissions in pdf-format will be accepted.
- Abstracts are submitted via the GLOW 37 EasyChair page:

Page Updated: 17-Jun-2013