LINGUIST List 26.3321

Thu Jul 16 2015

Calls: General Linguistics, Historical Linguistics/Italy

Editor for this issue: Erin Arnold <>

Date: 16-Jul-2015
From: Benjamin Fagard <>
Subject: SLE Workshop on Complex Adpositions in European Languages
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Full Title: SLE Workshop on Complex Adpositions in European Languages
Short Title: SLE-CA

Date: 31-Aug-2016 - 03-Sep-2016
Location: Naples, Italy
Contact Person: Benjamin Fagard
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics

Call Deadline: 01-Nov-2015

Meeting Description:

This Workshop will be dedicated to a reflexion on the emergence, status and definition of Complex Adpositions in European languages (see CfP for further details), as part of the 2016 SLE conference in Naples (August 31 to September 3, 2016).

In the studies on grammaticalization, the need is felt for a deeper understanding of the processes that lead to the emergence of complex adpositions, as well as to their evolution and eventual change into simple adpositions and into case markers. The main aim of the present workshop is to look for new insights into these problems in the domain of European languages. The background for these studies has been laid out in interesting work relating to complex prepositions and/or their grammaticalization, on the one hand (Lindqvist 1994, Schwenter & Traugott 1995, Di Meola 2000, Cifuentes Honrubia 2003, Hoffmann 2005, among others), and to adpositions on the other (as, e.g., Kurzon & Adler 2008, Hagège 2010, Libert 2013). We aim at widening the object under analysis to complex adpositions, thus gaining the advantage of contemplating studies on complex postpositions (and circumpositions), which have been so far neglected, at least in what concerns their grammaticalization.


Adler, Silvia (2001). Les locutions prépositives: questions de méthodologie et de définition. Travaux de linguistique 42-43, 157-170.
Adler, Silvia (2008). French compound prepositions, prepositional locutions and prepositional phrases in the scope of the absolute use. In: Kurzon & Adler (eds.) (2008), 17-35.
Bybee, Joan (2010). Language, usage and cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Cifuentes Honrubia, J. L. (2003). Locuciones prepositivas – sobre la gramaticalización preposicional en español. Alicante : Universidad de Alicante.
Di Meola, Claudio (2000). Die Grammatikalisierung deutscher Präpositionen. Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag.
Hagège, Claude (2010). Adpositions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hoffmann, Sebastian (2005). Grammaticalization and English Complex Prepositions. A corpus-based study. London and New York: Routledge.
Kurzon, Dennis & Silvia Adler (eds.) (2008). Adpositions. Pragmatic, semantic and syntactic perspectives. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Leeman, Danielle (2007). De la préposition à la locution prépositionnelle. Modèles linguistiques 55, 7-15.
Libert, Alan Reed (2013). Adpositions and Other Parts of Speech. Frankfurt-am-Main: Peter Lang.
Lindqvist, Christer (1994). Zur Entstehung von Präpositionen im Deutschen und Schwedischen. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Pinto de Lima, José (2014). Grammaticalization of complex prepositions in European Portuguese. In: José Pinto de Lima (2014) Studies on Grammaticalization and Lexicalization. Munich: Lincom Europa, 163-183.
Schwenter, Scott A. & Elizabeth C. Traugott (1995). The Semantic and Pragmatic Development of Substitutive Complex Prepositions in English. In Andreas H. Jucker (ed.), Historical Pragmatics. Amsterdam / Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 243-273.
Seppänen, Aimo, Rhonwen Bowen & Joe Trotta (1994). On the so-called Complex Prepositions. Studia Anglica Posnaniensia 29, 3-29.
Stosic, Dejan (2013). En passant par : une expression en voie de grammaticalisation ? CORELA – Langue, espace, cognition. [online:]
van Gelderen, Elly (2011). The Linguistic Cycle. Language Change and the Language Faculty. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Call for Papers:

Complex adpositions are a polemic category, inasmuch as not even their definition is consensual. Thus, although it is usual to consider sequences such as Eng. instead of or in order to, or Ger. auf Grund von as complex prepositions, mainly due to an internal structure that may be recognized and to their relation role in the sentence, the very definition of a complex preposition is not peaceful, as shown by the different positions that the two reference grammars of English take on the matter: while Quirk et al. (1985) consider that there is justification for such a category, Huddleston & Pullum (2002) dismiss the concept on the basis of the syntactic properties of these sequences, although acknowledging their semantic autonomy. In other languages, reference grammars admit an intermediate category between simple prepositions and standard complex ones, such as the ‘secondary prepositions’ in German (e.g., trotz, kraft, laut, etc.), which are apparently ‘simple’ but are considered secondary because of their non-prototypical features and transparency as to their lexical sources (Diewald 1997, 65-73).

The question of the definition of the class ‘complex adpositions’ is therefore prior to others in more than one sense of the word, and is therefore welcome to this workshop. Definitional uncertainty, however, has not prevented a certain consensus about the kind of grammaticalization and/or lexicalization processes that complex adpositions go through, at least those with the most common source structures, such as P1(+Det)+N+P2, to which the examples above belong (Fagard & De Mulder 2007). These processes can be dealt within the framework of Lehmann’s (1995) parameters: e.g., the change of P1 from paradigmatic variability to invariability, the impossibility of including linguistic material between P1(+Det) and N, and the eventual coalescence of P1(+Det)+N. However, many other grammaticalization paths are awaiting to be explored, in so far as complex adpositions may have their origin in a great variety of syntactically as well as morphologically complex structures: besides P1(+Det)+N+P2, we find P1+Adv+P2 (Fr. en dehors de), P1+P2 (Sp. para con), P. Part.+P (Pt. derivado a), Adj+P (Eng. due to), N+P (Pt. face a), P+N (Ger. mithilfe) V+P (Sp. pese a), etc.

Among the variety of topics open to exploration, we would like to mention the following:

– What criteria are most relevant for inclusion in the class of CAs and to which extent are they dependent on the internal structure of CAs? For CPs, some have been proposed in the literature (Quirk et al. 1985, Seppänen et al. 1994, Adler 2001, Cifuentes Honrubia 2003, Leeman 2007) but no cluster of criteria seems consensual. Also, as research widens to complex adpositions, criteria may be in need of revision.

– The determination of subcategories of CAs –which may reflect different stages in grammaticalization– should be discussed (see Adler’s 2008 distinction of compound prepositions and prepositional locutions).

– Productivity of CAs’ source structures. Some structures –such as P1(+Det)+N+P2– seem to be highly productive and regular, while others seems to emerge ad hoc and have just a few members. Is the emergence of CAs always casual or are there patterns of productivity?

– How do frequency and CAs correlate? It is generally assumed in grammaticalization studies, as well as in usage-based theories (Bybee 2010), that higher frequency correlates with deeper grammaticalization. Although some studies on CPs suggest this (e.g. Hoffmann 2005, Pinto de Lima 2014, Stosic 2013), more evidence is necessary.

– CAs and typology: it is often assumed that languages with prepositions and languages with postpositions belong to different language types, but does the inclusion of complex prepositions and complex postpositions in typological studies alter the picture?

– CAs and case. It has been suggested that “adpositions are the only source for Case markers” and that “a noun or verb or adverb always has to go through the stage of adposition before it is reanalyzed as Case” (van Gelderen 2011, 180). The question that arises in this context is whether these adpositions can be CAs and, if so, what is their role in the process.

Beside these points, we would like to stress the importance of having contributions from a varied array of European languages, so that a good picture of the different realities involving the emergence and the evolution of CAs may ensue.

Abstracts (300 words excluding references, deadline November 1, 2015) should be sent to benjamin.fagard[at] Abstracts will be evaluated by the convenors, and selected abstracts will accompany the workshop proposal. See Conference Program for further details.

Convenors: Benjamin Fagard (CNRS, ENS & Université Paris 3), José Pinto de Lima (Universidade de Lisboa), Elena Smirnova (Universität Hannover) and Dejan Stosic (Université de Toulouse 2).


Diewald, Gabriele (1997). Grammatikalisierung. Eine Einführung in Sein und Werden grammatischer Formen. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag.
Fagard, Benjamin & Walter De Mulder (2007). La formation des prépositions complexes : grammaticalisation ou lexicalisation ? Langue Française 156, 9-29.
Huddleston, R. & G. K. Pullum (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lehmann, Christian (21995). Thoughts on grammaticalization. Munich: Lincom Europa.
Quirk, R., S. Greenbaum, G. Leech & J. Svartvik (1985). A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman.

Page Updated: 16-Jul-2015