LINGUIST List 26.3444

Thu Jul 30 2015

Calls: Romance, Linguistic Theories, Morphology/USA

Editor for this issue: Erin Arnold <>

Date: 30-Jul-2015
From: Jonathan MacDonald <>
Subject: Workshop on Romance Se/Si
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: Workshop on Romance Se/Si

Date: 21-Apr-2016 - 22-Apr-2016
Location: Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Contact Person: Jonathan MacDonald
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories; Morphology

Language Family(ies): Romance

Call Deadline: 30-Oct-2015

Meeting Description:

A workshop on Romance SE/SI constructions will be held on April 21 and 22, 2016 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The reflexive (SE/SI) clitic is one of the most widely studied topics in Romance Linguistics, both in traditional descriptions and theoretical analyses. This stems, in part, from the vast range of constructions in which the clitic may appear, including reflexives, reciprocals, impersonals, passives, middles, anti-causatives, as a marker of telicity with some verbs (aspectual SE/SI), as an inherent part of a certain class of intransitive verbs called ‘pronominal verbs’ (inherent SE/SI), and, in part, from the range of theoretical issues it bears on, including argument structure, the lexicon-syntax interface, the morphology-syntax interface, movement, agreement, Case, binding theory, and (parametric) variation.

The search for a “common core” that triggers fundamentally the same morphological reflex (= SE/SI) in all of these constructions is something that has alluded grammarians and linguists alike and continues to be a fundamental guiding question in current research (see Sánchez López 2002, Dobrovie-Sorin 2006 and Mendikoetxea 2012 for the most recent overviews). While the “common core” question is a key component of research on Romance SE/SI, detailed research on individual SE/SI constructions is just as important as it clarifies our understanding of the nuances of each environment where SE/SI appears and thus leads us toward a better understanding of precisely what they all have in common and also where they differ.

A related important question concerns variation within Romance languages. Not all Romance languages have all of the SE/SI constructions mentioned above (see Zubizarreta 1982, Cinque 1988, Mendikoetxea & Battye 1990, Dobrovie-Sorin 1998, D’Alessandro 2007), nor do all the “same” SE/SI constructions behave the same way in all languages (Cinque 1988, Dobrovie-Sorin 1998). While variation is recognized to exist, the question remains whether this variation can be given a principled explanation. This question is especially important within a Minimalist climate, where the nature and locus of variation raises deep theoretical questions about the architecture of the grammar (see Sigurdsson 2004, Baker 2008, Boeckx 2011 among others).

Call for Papers:

We invite abstracts for 30-minute oral presentations, followed by 10 minutes of discussion, that address any aspect of Romance SE/SI constructions. We also plan on having a poster session. Submissions are limited to two per author, with at most one paper being single-authored. Contributions that address variation among different Romance languages or among different SE/SI constructions as well as those that address the questions below are of particular interest.

Call Deadline: October 30, 2015
Submit Abstracts via: EasyAbs
Notification: November 30, 2015

Abstract requirements: Abstracts, including references and data, should be limited to two single spaced pages (US Letter) with one inch margins, minimum font size 11pt (Times New Roman). Examples should be interspersed throughout the text. Abstracts must be submitted in PDF format through EasyAbs and must be received by October, 30th, 2015, 23:59EDT. The PDF file you submit must not include any information that reveals the identity of the author(s).


Is variation across Romance languages in terms of number of SE/SI constructions tied to independent properties of the particular language? That is, are there clustering effects? If so, this would be reminiscent of a classic Principle and Parameters approach (Chomsky 1981) to variation, a situation becoming increasingly more difficult to find (cf. Baker 2008).

What is the role of being a null subject language? Belletti (1982) suggests that Impersonal (or Nominative) SE/SI constructions are available in Italian because Italian is a null subject language. Dobrovie-Sorin (1998) questions how tightly this correlation should be stated, since Romanian, a null subject language lacks Impersonal (or Nominative) SE/SI constructions. Are there properties of French Middle/Passive SE that result from French being a non-null subject language? And Brazilian Portuguese SE constructions, which are disappearing (Nunes 1990). Do they show properties that result from Brazilian Portuguese being a partial-null subject language?

To what extent are notions such as “case absorption” or “valency reduction” still useful in accounting for the properties of SE/SI constructions in modern syntactic theories? Do approaches that assign some aspectual function or a function related to event structure to SE/SI fare any better in elucidating a common core?

What is the nature of SE itself? A verbal inflectional morpheme (Cuervo 2003, 2014, Kempchinsky 2004, Folli & Harley 2005, Basilico 2010, Ordóñez & Treviño 2011, Armstrong 2013 among others)? A pronominal in argument position (Raposo & Uriagereka 1996, D’Alessandro 2007)? The result of a PF-repair strategy (Pujalte & Saab 2012, Saab 2014)? If it is a verbal morpheme which projection does it head? Does the morpho-syntactic status of SE/SI (verbal morpheme or pronoun) vary depending on the specific construction in which it appears? (Torrego 1995, Dobrovie-Sorin 2006).

Page Updated: 30-Jul-2015