LINGUIST List 26.3063

Mon Jun 29 2015

Calls: General Ling, Historical Ling, Morphology, Syntax, Typology/Germany

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 28-Jun-2015
From: Chiara Gianollo <>
Subject: Indefinites between Theory and Language Change
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Full Title: Indefinites between Theory and Language Change

Date: 24-Feb-2016 - 26-Feb-2016
Location: Konstanz, BW, Germany
Contact Person: Svetlana Petrova
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 31-Aug-2015

Meeting Description:

The Workshop 'Indefinites between Theory and Language Change' is organized as part of the Annual Conference of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS) ''Sprachkonzil: Theorie und Experiment'' to be held at the University of Konstanz, Germany February, 24-26, 2016.

Language users employ indefinites, pronouns ('someone', 'anything', 'whatever') and different types of noun phrases ('a book', 'a certain student', 'some time', 'any teacher'), to encode (non-)referentiality, but also other crucial properties, such as degree of identifiability, speaker-hearer knowledge status, discourse saliency. Recent typological and theoretical studies have uncovered a wealth of variation in this domain, on various grammatical levels (morpho-syntax, semantics, pragmatics). The emerging picture needs to be complemented by a comparative evaluation of the observed diachronic patterns. Research on the history of indefinite articles and some classes of indefinite pronouns in individual languages has advanced substantially. We face scenarios that challenge well-known models of development and therefore need a broader cross-linguistic perspective on evolutionary tendencies, also encompassing non-Indo-European languages. A more fine-grained study of the diachronic clines involving indefinites may shed light on some of their intriguing synchronic properties (morpho-syntactic complexity, multifunctionality, context dependence), and on the way systems of indefinites are structured (complementarity, blocking). The investigation further promises to disclose more general conclusions on the systematic nature of change affecting functional elements of the lexicon. We therefore invite contributions from linguists of various persuasions, reconciling in-depth theoretical analysis with comparative and diachronic evidence.


Chiara Gianollo (University of Cologne), Klaus von Heusinger (University of Cologne), Svetlana Petrova (University of Wuppertal)

Invited Speakers:

Maria Aloni, University of Amsterdam
Ljudmila Geist, University of Stuttgart

Scientific Committee:

Maria Aloni
Theresa Biberauer
Cornelia Ebert
Ljudmila Geist
Anastasia Giannakidou
Tania Ionin
Agnes Jäger
Hans Kamp
Edgar Onea
Ian Roberts
Roberto Zamparelli

Call for Papers:

We welcome contributions addressing one or more of the following questions:

(i) Which properties account for the systematicity in diachronic processes involving indefinites? To what extent are different sub-classes (specific, epistemic, free-choice, polarity-sensitive indefinites) affected by cyclical developments? How can theories account for the fact that such developments may be multidirectional?
(ii) In the system of indefinite markers, the indefinite article stands out in many respects (source of grammaticalization, interaction with the definite article and with number marking). How can we reconcile the cyclical model traditionally proposed for its evolution with the evidence provided by many historical varieties, in which various functions (referential, generic, predicative, etc.) already co-exist at an early grammaticalization stage?
(iii) Which ingredients are needed to provide satisfactory theoretical models of the cross-linguistic micro-variability attested by indefinites, and of the system synchronically and diachronically organizing the observed functions?

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts are invited for 30-minute presentations (20 + 10 for discussion) in English or German. As reviewing will be double-blind, abstracts should be anonymous; author's information should be submitted in the accompanying email. Please send your abstract (PDF format, one page plus an optional second page for figures and references) to Please include author name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information (including email address) in the body of the message.

Important Dates:

Deadline for abstract submission: August 31, 2015
Notification of acceptance: September 25, 2015
Workshop: February, 24 - 26, 2016

Page Updated: 29-Jun-2015