LINGUIST List 24.2612

Thu Jun 27 2013

Calls: Semantics, Syntax, Typology, General Ling/Germany

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <>

Date: 27-Jun-2013
From: Björn Wiemer <>
Subject: DGfS 2014 Workshop: Semantics of Complement Clauses
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: DGfS 2014 Workshop: Semantics of Complement Clauses
Date: 05-Mar-2014 - 07-Mar-2014 Location: Marburg, Germany Contact Person: Björn Wiemer, Kasper Boye
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Semantics; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 29-Aug-2013

Meeting Description:

Research on complementation has to a large extent focused on syntactic and morphological aspects. For instance, in Noonan (2007: 54-55), one of the standard references on the subject, complement types are distinguished on the basis of three criteria that are all morphological or syntactic: ‘(i) the morphology of the predicate [of the complement], (ii) the kind of syntactic relations the predicate has with its arguments (complement-internal syntax), (iii) the syntactic relation of the complement construction as a whole with the rest of the sentence (complement external syntax)’. For some time, though, it has been clear that there is also a considerable semantic side to the issue. In the early 1970’s, Kiparsky & Kiparsky (1971) drew attention to an epistemic modal relationship, known as ‘factivity’, between complements and complement taking elements. Frajzyngier (1991; 1995) demonstrated that complementizers can have modal meanings (in fact, he argued that all complementizers are modal; however, ‘modality’ was conceived of as a very broad notion, including also contrasts of [+/- factive] or [+/- real]). These insights have inspired subsequent research. For instance, Lees’, Vendlers’ and Lyons’ distinctions have been applied to perception-verb complements (e.g., Dik & Hengeveld 1991, Boye 2010) and to modal complements’ (Palmer 1979: 35, Perkins 1983: 7-8). Nordström (2010) has pursued Frajzyngier’s idea that complementizers are basically ‘modal’. Moreover, attention has been drawn to complement contrasts that can be understood either as pertaining to modality in a narrow sense, or to mood or (ir)realis. See, e.g., Zaitseva (1995) on Russ. čto ‘that’ vs. budto ‘as if’, Wiemer (2010: 291-298) for a survey concerning languages in the Eastern part of Europe.

However, with the exception of issues related to factivity, complementizer semantics remains heavily understudied and poorly understood. In addition, the subject suffers from lack of clarity about the different notions and distinctions invoked: modality, state-of-affairs vs. proposition, (ir)realis, mood, (non)factivity, etc. This workshop is intended as a first step to remedy this situation.

Call for Papers:

We invite contributions which focus on at least one of the following topics:

1. Which notions are coded in complements and complement contrasts?
- For instance, are contrasts similar to that in English between that/Ø and if complements best understood as epistemic modal contrasts (e.g. epistemically neutral vs. uncertain) or as illocutionary ones (e.g. assertive vs. interrogative)?
- How widespread are contrasts between ‘that’ and ‘as if’ complements? Where do such contrasts come from diachronically? More specifically: how are they connected to conjunctions and particles, and has their rise been conditioned by the rise of coordinative vs. subordinative contrasts in the given language?

2. In which contexts are complement contrasts relevant?
- It is well-known that the contrast between state-of-affairs and proposition is found in perception-verb complements and to ‘complements’ of modals. But Boye (2010; 2012) argues that it is also found in e.g. knowledge-, and utterance-verb complements. How pervasive is the contrast?

3. Which are the relations between the different kinds of complement contrasts that have been identified in the literature?
- In order to describe complement semantics, do we need all of the following notions, even more, or only a subset: modality, state-of-affairs vs. proposition, (ir)reality, (non)factuality, de re vs. de dicto?

4. How are complement contrasts coded?
- They can probably be coded at least in distinctions pertaining to complementizers, nominalizers, word order, and mood. But how frequently are these means employed, and are there any additional means?
- What are the relations between semantic complement contrasts and the contrast between balanced and deranked complements (e.g., Cristofaro 2003)?

Contributions lasting for 30 (20+10) minutes may deal with a single language or language family, or with several languages or families, and they may have diachronic focus, a synchronic one, or both.

We ask you to send abstracts no longer than 300 words (excluding references) to one of the convenors indicated above by August 29, 2013. Please indicate affiliation and full address. Information about acceptance will be sent by September 15, 2013.

For a more elaborate version of this call, write to convenors.

Page Updated: 27-Jun-2013