LINGUIST List 25.2142

Thu May 15 2014

Calls: Semantics, General Linguistics/France

Editor for this issue: Bryn Hauk <>

Date: 15-May-2014
From: Alexandru Mardale <>
Subject: Existential Predication in Natural Languages: Values - Operations, Structures - Modalities
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Full Title: Existential Predication in Natural Languages: Values - Operations, Structures - Modalities

Date: 10-Apr-2015 - 11-Apr-2015
Location: Paris, France
Contact Person: Alexandru Mardale
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Semantics

Call Deadline: 30-Sep-2014

Meeting Description:

Semantic relations observed in what are commonly known as existential constructions and the operations by which they are established have common features in many languages of the world, but beside these similarities there are also important formal variations. The notion of an existential sentence, introduced into linguistic terminology by Jespersen (1924), cannot be reduced to the idea of asserting or denying the existence of an entity in the philosophical sense.

In this symposium, we propose as a starting point for the study of existential constructions two approaches to the definition of existential predication:

- Existential predication can be viewed as a specific operation of locating one term (locatum, fr. repéré/figure) relative to another (locator, fr. repère/ground, expressed by means of a non-canonical marking of constituents and/or a non-canonical constituent order within the utterance, and/or by using a particular existential marker,

- From the viewpoint of construction of meaning, existential predication can be characterized by the fact that it is not the locatum (figure) but the locator (ground) that is chosen as perspectival center from which the situation to be described is cognitively structured.

Registration fee: 90 euros (30 euros for students)

Selected References:

Babby L., 1980, Existential sentences and negation in Russian, Ann Arbor, Caroma publishers.
Chvany C., 1975, On the syntax of BE-sentences in Russian, Cambridge, MA, Slavica.
Clark E. V., 1978, 'Locationals: existential, locative and possessive construction', in Greenberg, J. (ed.), Universals in Human Language, Vol. 4: Syntax, Stanford, CA, Stanford University Press, p. 85-126.
Creissels D., 2013, 'Existential predication in typological perspective', proc. of 46th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Workshop Space, Time and Existence: Typological, cognitive and philosophical viewpoints, Split, Croatia, 18-21 September 2013, electronical version:
Huumo T., 2003, 'Incremental Existence: The World According to the Finnish Existential Sentence', Linguistics 41(3), p. 461-493.
Freeze R., 1992, 'Existentials and other locatives', Language 68(3), p. 553-592.
Melhig H. R., 2004, 'Oppozicija 'est' vs nulevaja forma' v russkix bytijnyx predloženijax pri sootnesennosti k konkretno-predmetnym referentam', in Sokrovennye smysly. Slovo. Tekst. Kultura., Recueil d'articles en l'honneur de N. D. Arutjunova, Мoscou, Jazyki slavjanskoj kul'tury, p. 437-451.
Partee, B. & Borschev, V., 2004, 'The Semantics of Russian Genitive of Negation: The Nature and Role of Perspectival Structure', in K. Watanabe & R. B. Young, (éds), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 14, Ithaca NY: CLC Publications, p. 212-234.
Rouveret A., 1998, 'Points de vue sur le verbe être', in A. Rouveret (éd.), Être et avoir : syntaxe, sémantique, typologie, Saint Denis, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, p. 11-65.
Van de Velde D., 2005, 'Les interprétations partitive et existentielle des indéfinis dans les phrases existentielles locatives', Travaux de linguistique no 50, p. 37-52.
Weiss D., 1993, 'Die Faszination der Leere. Die moderne russische Umgangssprache und ihre Liebe zur Null', Zeitschrift für Slav ische Philologie LIII, p. 48-82.

Call for Papers:

International Symposium
Existential predication in natural languages:
Values and operations, structures and modalities
National Institute of Oriental Languages and Civilizations (Inalco), Paris
10-11 April, 2015

We are seeking submissions that make new contributions to already existing studies in the field. Contributions within different theoretical frameworks are welcome, but must be based on attested data. Possible topics and questions to be discussed include (but are not limited to):

- The description of verbs and formal strategies that contribute to constructing existential values; the link between existential predication and locational predication, on the one hand, and that between existential predication and possessive predication, on the other hand
- The individuation of the terms involved in existential predication, i.e. the locatum/figure and the locator/ground, by means of different markers including constituent order and suprasegmental features; the relation between these terms, in particular in comparison with locational predication and the predication of identity between two terms (X copula Y)
- The dynamic interactions in which existential constructions participate; information organization; contexts of use of existential constructions compared with those of constructions with canonical marking of constituents and/or canonical constituent order
- The diachronic evolution of existential verbs and their modal uses in synchrony; grammaticalization phenomena involving forms serving to express existential values

The symposium is organized by the linguistic laboratory SeDyL Structure et Dynamique des Langues (CNRS (UMR 8202)/INALCO/IRD (UR 135), with the support of the LABEX EFL (Empirical Foundations of Linguistics) and the laboratory CeLiSo (Centre de linguistique en Sorbonne, Paris-Sorbonne University - Paris 4).

Languages of Communication:

The languages of the symposium are French, English and Russian.


Deadline for submission: September 30, 2014
Notification of acceptance: November 30, 2014


Abstracts no longer than one page (about 3000 characters), in either French or English, should present the research question, data employed and a few anticipated results. They should also include references and be followed with four keywords.

Please send the abstract in both MSWord and PDF format to the following address:

Specify in the body of the message:

- Name of author(s)
- Title of paper
- Institution

Each paper will have 20 minutes for presentation, followed by 10 minutes for discussion.

Organizing Committee:

Vincent Bénet (Inalco)
Natalia Bernitskaïa (Paris-Sorbonne University - Paris 4)
Tatiana Bottineau (Inalco)
Outi Duvallon (Inalco)
Alexandru Mardale (Inalco)

Page Updated: 15-May-2014