LINGUIST List 32.3350

Mon Oct 25 2021

Calls: General Linguistics, Pragmatics, Semantics, Typology/Romania

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 19-Oct-2021
From: Anna Koche <>
Subject: How to Mark the Truth: A Cross-linguistic Approach to Verum
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Full Title: How to Mark the Truth: A Cross-linguistic Approach to Verum

Date: 24-Aug-2022 - 27-Aug-2022
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Contact Person: Anna Kocher
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Pragmatics; Semantics; Typology

Subject Language(s): English

Call Deadline: 01-Nov-2021

Meeting Description:

This workshop focuses on the theoretical and empirical underpinnings of truth-marking. The names that have been used to refer to the the phenomena related to the issue include, among others, ‘counter-assertive focus’ (Watters 1979), ‘polar(ity) focus’ (Dik and Van der Hulst 1981), ‘verum focus’ (Höhle 1992), ‘emphatic polarity’ (Villa García and González Rodríguez 2021) or simply ‘verum’ (Gutzmann and Castroviejo Miró 2011), which we adopt in this call. This terminological variety is suggestive of the vast amount of ideas and conceptions characteristic for this field of research. This workshop wants to uncover the core of the issue and find out what verum truly constitutes. We want to expand the empirical base and determine the common and diverging properties of truth-marking in the languages of the world. The workshop’s objective is to set a theoretical and empirical baseline for future research on verum and related phenomena.

As a starting point we use the definition proposed by Höhle (1992) who describes verum as emphasizing the expression of truth of a proposition. To identify verum we rely on the lists of contexts in which it is allowed and disallowed presented by Matthewson & Gougie (2018), building on Zimmermann & Hole (2008).

Allowed contexts
Correcting a previous utterance, corrections of negative expectations, emphatic agreement, confirmation of expected path of events, answers to questions (with emphatic effect), answers to indirect questions, in the antecedent of conditionals (‘stressing the conditionality’), inside yes-​no questions (with an ‘Is it really?’ effect)

Disallowed contexts
Discourse-​initially, neutral answers to questions

One aim of this workshop is to test how universally these lists apply and what conclusion we can draw for our understanding of verum and for its theoretical modeling. Furthermore, we aim to get a more complete overview of the strategies different languages use to express verum. Non-European languages for which the expression of verum has been described, in greater or lesser detail, include Vietnamese (Austroasiatic; Tran 2016), Aghem (Niger-Congo; Watters 1979), Gur languages (Niger-Congo; Schwarz 2010), Bambara (Niger-Congo; Prokhorov 2014), Wolof (Niger-Congo; Jordanoska 2020), Bura (Afro-Asiatic; Gutzmann et al. 2020), Upper Napo Kichwa (Quechuan; Grzech 2020), Gitksan (Tsimshianic; Matthewson 2021) and Kwak’wala (Wakashan; Littell 2016). These languages employ different strategies. Moreover, even within one language, there doesn’t seem to always be a single linguistic element dedicated to verum marking. Jordanoska (2020) showed that in Wolof there are four different particles that can occur in verum contexts: de, kat, kay and gaa. Their distribution is based on the polarity of the antecedent. Furthermore, they can only occur in declarative clauses. Due to these distributional facts, Jordanoska (2020) analyzed these particles as hybrids between verum markers and response particles, meaning that Wolof does not have a single lexical exponent of the verum operator.

There is a vast amount of theoretical work on veurm. Gutzmann (2012) systematized these approaches to truth-marking by distinguishing Lexical Operator Theses (LOT) from Focal Accent Theses (FAT). FATs (such as Höhle 1992) posit that every sentence has a verum operator that is subject to the focal marking rules of the language in question. In a verum context the verum operator gets focused. LOTs (such as Romero and Han 2004, Gutzmann et al. 2020) posit that verum is a lexical operator independent of focus and is only present in a sentence when it is overtly realized. A lot of theoretical work on verum has been informed by Germanic data, where verum is expressed through stress on a finite verb. This empirical fact has been used to suggest a link between sentence mood and verum (cf. for instance Höhle 1992, Lohnstein 2016).

2nd Call for Papers:

This is a second call for paper for the workshop proposal on verum to take place at the SLE 2022.

There is substantial variation cross-linguistically in how verum is marked and which contexts fall under this marking. Furthermore, how to tackle this variation within a theoretical model, is still up for debate. All these open issues motivate this workshop that is set out to address what verum constitutes, what strategies are used to express it and how verum relates to sentence mood, focus, epistemic and evidential modality and other types of meaning. Finally, we are also interested in the development of empirical methods that help identify verum meaning in larger data sets or test hypotheses with respect to verum meaning in experimental settings.

Submissions to the workshop may include, but need not be limited to:

- Descriptions of the verum marking inventory in lesser studied languages
- Cross-linguistic comparison of verum marking
- Systematic empirical studies (for instance corpus or experiments) on verum and related categories
- Theoretical contributions on what constitutes verum, comparative to related phenomena such as empathic agreement, counter-assertion, pragmatic intensification (such as with really) or outer-negation questions
- Contributions dwelling into the interaction between verum, sentence mood, focus marking, epistemic modality or others

Please send your anonymous abstract of max. 300 words to by 01 November, 2021. The workshop organizers will carry out a first round of internal review and notify authors of their decision by mid-November. Accepted abstracts will be sent to the SLE conference organizers as part of the workshop proposal. Notification of acceptance or rejection of the workshop proposal will be by 15 December, 2021.

Workshop organizers: Izabela Jordanoska (LLACAN/CNRS, and Anna Kocher (Universität Wien,

Page Updated: 25-Oct-2021