LINGUIST List 30.1798

Fri Apr 26 2019

Calls: Language Acquisition, Morphology, Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Portugal

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Date: 24-Apr-2019
From: Fernanda Pratas <>
Subject: Workshop on Tenselessness 2
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Full Title: Workshop on Tenselessness 2
Short Title: Tenselessness 2

Date: 03-Oct-2019 - 04-Oct-2019
Location: Lisbon, Portugal
Contact Person: Fernanda Pratas
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition; Morphology; Semantics; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 05-Jun-2019

Meeting Description:

Maria J Arche (CREL) & Fernanda Pratas (CLUL)
- with Raïssa Gillier, Vanessa López and Clara Pinto (CLUL)

Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa
FREE entrance

This workshop continues the discussion about temporal interpretation that is not rooted in typical tense marking.

Many languages have been argued to be tenseless in some way, e.g., Mandarin Chinese, Salishan Lillooet, Halkomelem, Gitksan in British Columbia, Algonquian Blackfoot in Alberta, Kalaallisut in Greenland, Guaraní and Ayoreo in Paraguay, Yucatec Maya in Mexico, Navajo in Southern US, or Hausa in West Africa among many others. The challenge has been to devise what it means to be tenseless, whether lack of morphological tense amounts to lack of syntactic/semantic tense, and to identify what other linguistic means procure information that contribute to establishing temporal location.

As is known, the theoretical takes differ. For example, for Blackfoot, while Matthewson (2006) argues that tense content cannot be ruled out, Ritter & Wiltschko (2014) argue that it is deictic features of person and location that constitute the substance of Inflection in that language. For Kalaallisut, Fortescue (1984) posits the existence of tenses but Bittner (2005, 2014) defends that they are inexistent. In the absence of tense, temporal interpretation has been proposed to come about through other categories, e.g., mood in Kalaallisut (Bittner 2014) or Hausa (Mucha 2015) or aspect (Smith & Erbaugh 2005 or Lin 2006, 2012 for Chinese). While the solidarities between aspect and tense have been acknowledged in many languages, whether they are mere tendencies and how exactly this should be formalised (Klein et al 2000) is debated.

Furthermore, parallels between the properties of the clause and those of nominals have been established, with evidence from both well-studied and understudied languages. This comparison has been proposed at various levels, namely the syntactic structure (Abney (1987; Ritter 1991; Longobardi 1994) and the speech act structure (Ritter & Wiltschko 2018), but also the semantic domains of tense, aspect and mood (Lecarme 1996, 2004, 2008; Nordlinger & Saddler 2004; Tonhauser 2006, forthcoming).

In this second edition of the series Tenselessness, inaugurated at the University of Greenwich in 2017, we aim to continue the debate about the lack of overt tense marking in main clauses found in some languages, about those constructions existing in tensed languages that lack tense marking but have a temporal interpretation (e.g., gerunds, participles, infinitival clauses, noun phrases), and about other linguistic units that affect temporal meaning (e.g., prefixes).

AIM of the workshop
To bring together researchers interested in discussing tenselessness, following questions such as:
1. What counts as evidence of a null Tense or no Tense at all?
2. How is temporal interpretation obtained and acquired in the absence of explicit cues?
3. How does temporal interpretation work in uninflected cases within tensed languages? What light can this shed onto tenselessness in general?
4. What role does the various temporal interpretations of nominals (both within nominal phrases and nominalized verb forms, such as gerunds) play in this picture?

Invited Speakers:

Antonio Fábregas
Telmo Móia
Judith Tonhauser
Martina Wiltschko

Scientific Committee:

Victor Acedo-Matellán
María J. Arche
Jürgen Bohnemeyer
Patricia Cabredo
Hamida Demirdache
Antonio Fábregas
Angeliek van Hout
Wolfgang Klein
Jinhong Liu
Rui Marques
Lisa Matthewson
Telmo Móia
Anne Mucha
Fernanda Pratas
Roumyana Slabakova
Elena Soare
Tim Stowell
Hongyuan Sun
Judith Tonhauser
Myriam Uribe-Etxebarria
Martina Wiltschko
Jan-Wouter Zwarts

Call for Papers:

We welcome abstracts for 30-minute papers (plus 10 minutes for discussion) which address one or more issues relating to the syntax and semantics of Tense and its morphological null expression and its acquisition in different languages.

The language of the workshop is English.

Abstracts exclusively containing the title of the presentation should be submitted to the conference address at in pdf format.

Abstracts should be no longer than two pages, including examples and references, with 2.5 cm margins in 12-point Times, single-spaced. The deadline for submissions is 5th June 2019. A website containing information about the event and the venue will be made available in due course.

Conference Website:

Page Updated: 26-Apr-2019