LINGUIST List 31.3888

Wed Dec 16 2020

Calls: Gen Ling, Morphology, Syntax, Typology/Greece

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 16-Dec-2020
From: Alexandra Rehn <>
Subject: Adjective: The unknown Category. Inflection articles and other functional material in the AP
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Full Title: Adjective: The unknown Category. Inflection articles and other functional material in the AP

Date: 31-Aug-2021 - 03-Sep-2021
Location: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Contact Person: Alexander Pfaff
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Morphology; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 15-Jan-2021

Meeting Description:

In spite of a substantial body of research on the status of A(djectives), from both a generative (e.g. Baker 2003) and functionalist (e.g. Bhat, 1994) as well as a diachronic and typological (Dixon 1982; Rießler 2016) perspective, there does not seem to be a broad consensus on a number of relevant questions like:
(i) Is A a universal category?
(ii) Is A a category at all or is it rather a version of N or V?
(iii) Are there (sub-)categories like “nouny” and “verby” As?
(iv) Which categorial properties make A clearly distinct from N and V?

Against the backdrop of these rather broad and general questions, this workshop addresses a relatively specific domain – functional elements (inflection, articles, ezafe) in the AP and their (possible) contribution to or interaction with the categorial status of A:
(v) Are there functional elements/morphemes in the AP that are intimately related to or dependent on the category A, or even determine adjectivehood?
(vi) Do they have cognates in other domains (NP, VP), and if so, how are they related (morphologically/semantically/etymologically)?

The general aim of the workshop is to gain new insights regarding the – up to this day unanswered – question of what it is that makes an A an A. Do As have specific properties that allow a definition of their categorial status, and if so, are they substantial or merely functional properties (e.g. attributive modification) – or are As simply the least specified category (see Baker 2003) that are best characterized by what they are not rather than by what they are?
The workshop has an empirical and a theoretical component, and explicitly welcomes diachronic, comparative and typological, as well as theoretical perspectives. On the empirical side, we want to bring together a number of relevant phenomena from a range of languages, and try to establish a (small-scale) typology of relevant items. The goal is to formulate diagnostics that allow us to compare such AP internal material across languages. On the theoretical side, we are interested in what role these items play regarding the categorial status of A.

Call for Papers:

Below we give a brief (non-exhaustive) overview of relevant topics for the WS:
a) Early Indo-European has been claimed not to have a separate category A, but merely one super-category nominal. One of the arguments used is that presumed adjectives are syntactically, semantically and morphologically non-distinct from nouns. This raises the question what characterizes inflectional material as adjectival. Is it merely distinctness from nominal inflection, is it gender (and phi-) agreement or something else? Germanic weak adjectives are particularly interesting as they seem to have changed their categorial status from N to A (see Osthoff 1876; Viti 2015; Rehn 2019).
We are thus particularly interested in adjectival inflection that appears to be more than simply the spellout of agreement, such as the strong vs. weak inflection in Germanic, the definite vs. indefinite inflection in Latvian and Lithuanian, but also short vs. long adjectives in Slavic languages.

b) Some languages employ adjectival/linking/attributive articles: article elements that appear to be inherently dependent on the presence of an adjective. Although these elements are usually etymologically related to demonstratives/definite determiners, they cannot be considered “regular” definite articles since they are more closely associated with the adjectival constituent, rather than the noun phrase at large. Consequently, it has been argued that they are narrow components of the AP (Marušič & Žaucer 2007, 2013; Perridon & Sleeman 2011; Rießler 2016; Börjars & Payne 2016; Pfaff 2019). Elements fitting the profile of “adjectival article” can be found in Greek, Slovenian, Albanian, Romanian, Gothic, Old Norse, Hebrew, and others. There is, however, quite some (crosslinguistic) diversity, and the precise function of these elements, their grammaticalization path and their relation to definiteness remain unclear.

c) Comparative/superlative morphology is relevant in the present context because it seems to be a paradigmatic adjectival property, designed for the category A, and is often used as one diagnostic for adjectivehood. It has however been pointed out that there are languages where comparative morphology is also found with nouns and even verbs (e.g. Satomi 2008; for discussion and further references, see Ratkus 2011). This suggest that comparison is not uniquely dependent on a category A.

Participants should try to make reference to one or more of the following questions:
- What is the role/function/contribution of AP-internal elements?
- Are they responsible for “adjectivehood”?
- Do they presuppose a category A?
- Can they serve as unambiguous diagnostics?
- How do they vary crosslinguistically?
- Do we find the same morphology with other “attributes” (e.g. appositions)?
- Do we find interesting cases of systematic multifunctionality/polysemy or common grammaticalization paths with VP-/NP-internal elements?

The Workshop is part of the SLE-conference.
Please read the SLE call on
Follow the SLE-guidelines for your submission

Submissions must be made via Easychair:
Select the Workshop to which you want to submit in Easychair.

Important: In order for your abstract to be considered, you must be an SLE member.
See the FAQ section (expecially point 2 on ''General rules'')

There are reduced fees for students and participants from certain countries.

Deadline: 15 Jan

You can be first author of one submission (paper, worshop proposal etc.) but you may be co-author of more than one submission. See the FAQ section, point 14, on the SLE page.

Page Updated: 16-Dec-2020