LINGUIST List 29.2850

Tue Jul 10 2018

Calls: Semantics, Syntax/Germany

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

Date: 09-Jul-2018
From: Andreas Pankau <>
Subject: Contrasts and Oppositions in 'Free' Linguistic Phenomena (DGfS 2019)
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Full Title: Contrasts and Oppositions in 'Free' Linguistic Phenomena (DGfS 2019)

Date: 06-Mar-2019 - 08-Mar-2019
Location: Bremen, Germany
Contact Person: Volker Struckmeier
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics; Syntax

Call Deadline: 05-Aug-2018

Meeting Description:

Syntactic theories have taken different routes to the question of optionality. With move-alpha, movement, e.g., was free (everybody move anywhere!). In early minimalism, movement was feature-driven (check to feed your Greed!), and given internal/external merge, it may be free again (depending on your definitions). Similarly, the output of movement operations can be handled in the mapping to PF through the deletion of the copies created by movement, making the pertinent word order options “free”, at least from the point of view of syntax (/semantics). Thus, theories differ with regard to the question, which operations are “free” – and “free” for which component(s) of the grammar.

Empirically, we find that some phenomena seem to display “optional” variations – which grammars then have to be equipped to handle. Verb-second languages, e.g., allow more or less any constituent to occupy the pre-verbal position, resulting in an optionality as to which element of the clause is fronted. But if movement is feature-driven, either some interpretative impact has to be connected to this movement (singling out a particular XP for every case) or the set of XPs that have the potential to be fronted need to receive a treatment that makes them all equally likely for fronting, depending on theoretical implementations. As another example, consider scrambling. Whereas scrambling was treated as “free”, possibly up until Lenerz 1977, it was later considered free but coupled to semantic effects (Frey 1993). In yet other treatments, scrambling is analyzed as triggered by information structural properties (Frey 2004) – and thus not optional at all. Still other analyses deny that scrambling involves triggered movements (Fanselow 2006) or else propose different solutions for triggers and moved materials (Struckmeier 2017).

Invited Speaker:

Klaus Abels (UCL, London)

Call for Papers:

We invite submissions dealing with ''free'' phenomena (outside of phonology). Which “free” empirical phenomena do we find in morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.? Which implications could these phenomena have for our theoretical understanding of the language’s grammar – and for grammatical architectures beyond the treatment of individual languages? Our questions include but (are not restricted to) ones like:

- Do truly ''free'' oppositions exist at all in syntax and morphology, or are they “optical illusions”, observer effects, or theory-induced artifacts?
- When we talk about ''free'' and optional phenomena, which language subsystems do indeed regard them as ''free''? (Can phenomena be truly “free” across all subsystems?)
- Do seemingly ''unrestricted'' formal contrasts reflect underlying functional oppositions? Do performance restrictions or pragmatic principles bar “true” optionality from ever arising (in all cases)?
- Are there formal oppositions hitherto regarded as ''free'' that in fact involve subtle functional contrasts and should thus be taken off the list of “optional” phenomena after all?

We also welcome proposals for the representation of ''free'' choices in theoretical frameworks other than Generative Grammar. How are free phenomena and optionality dealt with in different grammar frameworks? Do similar questions such as those discussed above arise in all grammatical frameworks? If no, what aspects of those alternative grammatical architectures differ to render the same phenomena differently? Please notice, however: Preferences for one theory over the other foisted on linguists of different persuasions are the one type of opposition that this workshop will have to do without. Rather, we encourage participants to transcend old party lines to further our empirical knowledge of linguistic phenomena that are (possibly) “unrestricted” (in some sense). We encourage open-minded discussions of how grammatical architectures handle ''free'' oppositions in specific cases – and how “free” phenomena relate to the fundamental questions of rule-governedness and regularity in “grammars” generally.

Abstract must not be longer than 2 pages (A4 or letter size) with 1in/2.5cm margins, set single spaced in at least 11pt font. Abstracts must be anonymous, the list of references must be complete, and self references should be avoided. Please make sure that there is no indication of the authors' identity in the file submitted.

Abstracts must be submitted via Easychair:

Page Updated: 10-Jul-2018