LINGUIST List 27.4109

Thu Oct 13 2016

Confs: Germanic, Romance, Gen Ling, Hist Ling, Ling Theories, Syntax, Text/Corpus Ling/Austria

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

Date: 12-Oct-2016
From: Anne Wolfsgruber <>
Subject: Workshop on Impersonality and Correlated Phenomena: Diachronic and Synchronic Perspectives
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Workshop on Impersonality and Correlated Phenomena: Diachronic and Synchronic Perspectives

Date: 10-Nov-2016 - 11-Nov-2016
Location: Salzburg, Austria
Contact: Anne Wolfsgruber
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Language Family(ies): Germanic; Romance

Meeting Description:

The aim of this workshop is to gain a more profound theoretical understanding of the encoding of impersonality on a syntactic and/or a semantic level and to investigate how impersonal constructions are intertwined with other factors within a language system.

The notion of impersonality generally comprises phenomena that show agent alternation/defocusing/absence or (de-)masking which include configurations like (non-)referential indefinite pronouns (fr. on, dt. man, nl. men, engl. one, sp. uno/a, pt. a gente etc.), expletives, se-constructions, periphrastic passives, p-labile verbs and anticausative alternations, deponent verbs and their evolution, middles, etc.

Furthermore, we are especially interested in analyses that focus on how impersonal constructions are linked to other properties of a language system, some of which are illustrated here drawing on Romance languages:

In recent decades, it has been observed that there seems to be a relation between the pro-drop parameter and the availability of impersonal se/si (cf. Belletti 1982). Further evidence in this direction is provided by Brazilian Portuguese which is claimed to be a partial pro-drop language and which shows considerable differences in the use of se as compared to European Portuguese, a consistent pro-drop language (cf. Holmberg et al 2009). Another interesting case is Old French whose pro-drop status is widely debated (cf. Adams 1987, Vance 1997 and many others) and which also shows less flexibility in using se as compared to other Old Romance varieties. In opposition to that, there are theoretical implementations that indicate that the correlation might not be as straightforward as sketched above (cf. Dobrovie-Sorin 1998, Roberts 2010).

Another interesting question is how different degrees of grammaticalization of impersonal constructions are linked to more general characteristics such as word order phenomena or high/low Transitivity.
In this respect it is interesting that we find so-called man-constructions in several Old Romance languages regardless of their null-subject status: Old Spanish om(n)e, Old Catalan/Old Occitan (h)om, Old French om/on etc. In later stages of the null-subject languages, man-constructions become less frequent. In the case of Old Spanish, omne got lost completely in the 16th century (cf. Brown 1931). In Catalan hom is viewed as archaic and se is preferred (cf. Bartra Kaufmann 2002). How can we account for this pan-romance evolution?

Moreover, we find different degrees of grammaticalization among man-constructions and in a last step of their grammaticalization paths man-constructions tend to be reanalyzed as plural markers in some languages like e.g. Abruzzese nomǝ or as a pronoun that is able to refer to generic subjects as well as like Modern French on. What factors condition the different degrees in grammaticalization cross-linguistically? (cf. Giacalone Ramat/Sansò 2007; D'Alessandro 2013).

Invited Speakers:

Dalina Kallulli, University of Vienna
Florian Schäfer, Humboldt University of Berlin

Organizing Committee:

Peter Herbeck
Bernhard Pöll
Anne Wolfsgruber


Thursday, November 10, 2016

8:45 - 9:15:

9:15 - 9:30:

9:30 - 10:30:
Invited speaker: Florian Schäfer
Two types of argument expletives: evidence from object drop.

10:30 - 11:00: Coffee break

11:00 - 11:35:
Gemma Barberà/Patricia Cabredo Hofherr
Backgrounded agents in Catalan Sign Language (LSC): passives, middles or impersonals?

11:35 - 12:10: Wiltrud Mihatsch/Eduardo Roque Amaral:
Incipient impersonal pronouns based on human nouns.

12:10 - 12:45
Janayna Carvalho
Two null impersonal pronouns in Brazilian Portuguese.

12:45 - 14:45: Lunch break

14:45 - 15:20:
Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir/Joan Maling
From Passive to Active: Diachronic Change in Impersonal Constructions.

15:20 - 15:55:
Hubert Haider
The subject is the subject - How to get rid of it grammatically.

15:55 - 16:30:
Thórhallur Eythórsson/Anton Karl Ingason/Einar Freyr Sigurðsson
Weak explicit arguments.

16:30 - 17:00: Coffee break

17:00 - 17:35:
Marcel Pitteroff/Marika Lekakou
Disposition Ascriptions in Impersonal Middles.

17:35 - 18:10
Patricia Cabredo Hofherr/Urtzi Etxeberria
R-impersonal pronouns and ONE.

Friday, November 11, 2016

9:30 - 10:05:
Michela Cennamo
Impersonal reflexives in Italo-Romance: a variational and diachronic study.

10:05 - 10:40:
Carlota de Benito Moreno
Reflexive naming verbs in Ibero-Romance: do they come from (impersonal) passive constructions?

10:40 - 11:10: Coffee break

11:10 - 11.45:
Emine Yarar
Impersonal pronouns in Turkish.

11:45 - 12.20:
Daniel Bunčić/Thomas Leurs
Arbs in Polish: When to use which?

12:20 - 14:20: Lunch break

14:20 - 14:55:
Silvio Cruschina:
The Subject of Existential Sentences: A Contrastive Analysis of Locative and Possessive Existentials in Romance.

14.55 - 15.30:
Francesco Rovai
Impersonal passives and deverbal nouns in Latin.

15:30 - 16.05
Carlotta Viti
Variation between personal and impersonal constructions in the ancient Indo-European languages.

16:05 - 16:35: Coffee break

16:35 - 17:35:
Invited speaker: Dalina Kallulli

Final discussion

Page Updated: 13-Oct-2016