LINGUIST List 26.5509

Fri Dec 11 2015

Calls: Comp Ling, Historical Ling, Morphology/Netherlands

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 11-Dec-2015
From: Sebastian Collin <>
Subject: The Development of Argument-Marking Systems
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: The Development of Argument-Marking Systems

Date: 31-Mar-2016 - 01-Apr-2016
Location: Nijmegen, Gelderland, Netherlands
Contact Person: Sebastian Collin
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Morphology

Call Deadline: 10-Jan-2016

Meeting Description:

The Development of Argument-Marking Systems

Invited speakers: Jóhanna Barðdal (Ghent University) and Remi van Trijp (Sony lab Paris)

A fundamental task for language is to provide the rules to map meaning to form. In the communication of an event, these rules should link semantic and information-structural roles, such as agent, patient, and topic, to their grammatical functions, such as subject and object. Despite their importance for communication, grammatical strategies of argument marking (viz. word order, head marking, and dependent marking) seem surprisingly limited and redundant, and complex at the same time.

Rather than studying individual argument-marking strategies, the focus of this workshop is on their joint usage and interaction, taking a systemic perspective. For example, in Hungarian changes in word order were made possible by the development of case marking (E. Kiss 2013) and in North American languages, word order is strict in the absence of bound person marking (Mithun 1991). Relevant questions are: Why do languages not use a simple and straightforward means of encoding who did what to whom? How did languages end up doing what they do? How did argument-marking strategies first emerge and how do they interact?

The goal of this workshop is to try to bridge the gap between what can be hypothesized about the earliest emergence of argument marking (Jackendoff 2002) and (reconstructing) the oldest stages of natural languages (Barddal to appear), with a special interest in using computational modeling (van Trijp 2012).

This workshop is organized as part of the NWO-funded project The exaptation of argument marking (PI Sander Lestrade).


K. E. Kiss (2013), From Proto-Hungarian SOV to Old Hungarian Top Foc V X*. Diachronica 30(2): 202-231.
M. Mithun (1991), The development of bound pronominal paradigms. In: Lehman and Jakusz Hewitt (eds), Language Typology: Typological Models in Reconstruction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
R. van Trijp (2012), The Evolution of Case Systems for Marking Event Structure. In: Steels (ed.), Experiments in Cultural Language Evolution. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
J. Barðdal (2015), Syntax and syntactic reconstruction. In: Bowern and Evans (eds), The Routledge handbook of historical linguistics: 343-373. London: Routledge.
R. Jackendoff(2002), Foundations of language. Oxford: OUP.

2nd Call for Papers:

The deadline for submitting papers for our workshop on the development of argument-marking systems is approaching. Please find below the conference call for papers.

Submission Details:

Anonymized abstracts are invited for 30 minute talks including discussion. Please send your two-page abstract as a pdf attachment to, providing author and contact information in the body of the e-mail.

Important Dates and Information:

Contact: Sebastian Collin,
Venue: Radboud University Nijmegen
Date: March 31-April 1, 2016
Submission deadline: January 10
Notification of acceptance: January 31


Page Updated: 11-Dec-2015