LINGUIST List 27.1603

Wed Apr 06 2016

Calls: Morphology/UK

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <ashleylinguistlist.org>


Date: 06-Apr-2016
From: Matthew Baerman <m.baermansurrey.ac.uk>
Subject: Workshop on Morphological Zeroes
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Full Title: Workshop on Morphological Zeroes

Date: 07-Sep-2016 - 07-Sep-2016
Location: York, United Kingdom
Contact Person: Matthew Baerman
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site: http://www.lagb.org.uk/page-1829016

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology

Call Deadline: 08-May-2016

Meeting Description:

This one-day workshop, part of the 2016 Linguistic Association of Great Britain annual meeting at the University of York, will focus on the ever-vexing problem of zeroes in morphology.

If morphology is the study of word forms, then morphological zeroes are an oxymoron. Still, there they are, in theory, and more importantly, in fact. Take the Arapesh verb ‘strike/kill’ (Fortune 1940: 64, 66). The normal Arapesh transitive sentence is SVO, and if the arguments are pronominal, they distinguish subject and object forms (1a,b). But juxtapose a subject and object pronoun with nothing intervening, and the verb ‘strike/kill’ emerges (2a,b).

(1) a. na whar oku
he call her
‘he calls her’

b. kwa mitek an
she clasp him
‘she clasps him’

(2) a. na oku
he her
‘he strikes/kills her’

b. kwa an
she him
‘she strikes/kills him’

The typological variety of morphological zeroes is striking, though understandably elusive. Some involve roots or stems, as in Arapesh, where it is a total zero; this contrasts with zero verb roots in Nimboran (Anceaux 1965, Inkelas 1993), which host derivational morphology that allows us to identify several lexically distinct verbs. Orphaned inflectional suffixes in Selepet (McElhanon 1972) arguably derive lexical content from inflection class distinctions. In Akabea (Comrie and Zamponi 2016), zero roots can also be contextually determined, e.g. by discourse. And these ‘present’ zeroes contrast with ‘absent’ zeroes, namely paradigm gaps – which are words which simply do not exist.

The more familiar face of morphological zeroes is within inflectional paradigms, where an expected affix position is meaningfully unoccupied. Here too we find a contrast between zeroes which assert their presence, say, through blocking (e.g. in Potowatami; Anderson 1992), and those which are simply absent. In Murrinh-Patha (Nordlinger 2010) we have an example of zero which really is empty. Object markers and dual subject markers occur in the same slot in the verb template. In (3), the 1SG object marker -ngi blocks the dual subject marker, leaving subject number marking partly ambiguous. But when the 3SG object marker -ka is used, the slot is freed up and the dual subject marker can appear (4).

(3) pubam-ngi-ngkardu
3NSG.SBJ.SEE.NFUT-1SG.OBJ-see
‘They (two siblings) saw me.’
OR ‘They (plural) saw me.’

(4) pubam-ka-ngkardu
3NSG.SBJ.SEE.NFUT-DU/PC.NFUT-see
‘They (two siblings) saw him/her.’

Although the concept of morphological zeroes has been with us for generations, they still occupy an uneasy periphery of morphological theory, at once crucial to model building and empirically evanescent, appearing and disappearing according to changing analytic conventions (Corbett 2014). In this workshop we aim to assess morphological zeroes in the light of recent thinking on morphological structure. We invite papers on any topic connected with morphological zeroes, and are looking for a mix of empirically and theoretically informed contributions.

Invited speaker
Sharon Inkelas (University of California, Berkeley)

The workshop is organized by Matthew Baerman (University of Surrey) and Bernard Comrie (University of California, Santa Barbara), and is being held in conjunction with Comrie’s Henry Sweet lecture ‘Verb Root Ellipsis’.

Sharon Inkelas (University of California, Berkeley) is the invited speaker. The workshop is organized by Matthew Baerman (University of Surrey) and Bernard Comrie (University of California, Santa Barbara), and is being held in conjunction with Comrie’s Henry Sweet lecture ‘Verb Root Ellipsis’.

Call for Papers:

This one-day workshop, part of the 2016 Linguistic Association of Great Britain annual meeting at the University of York, will focus on the ever-vexing problem of zeroes in morphology. We invite papers on any topic connected with morphological zeroes, and are looking for a mix of empirically and theoretically informed contributions. Please submit a one-page anonymous abstract by email to morphological.zerogmail.com by 08 May 2016, with your contact details included in the body of the email.


Page Updated: 06-Apr-2016