Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft

Kolloquium Syntax und Semantik

In dieser Veranstaltung werden Präsentationen zu laufenden Forschungs- und Abschlussarbeiten auf allen Qualifikationsebenen (Bachelor, Master, Promotion) aus den Bereichen Syntax und Semantik gehalten. Zusätzlich gibt es Termine, zu denen eingeladene externe Wissenschaftler*innen vortragen.



Sommersemester 2024

Montags, 16:15-17:45
BA und Mas­ter Lin­gu­is­tik


15.04.2024 Organisation


29.04.2024 Chenyuan Deng

An HPSG-Approach for German numeral classifers

In contrast to languages with rich classifier systems, such as Chinese and Japanese, German would not be considered as a numeral classifier language. But indeed there are elements in German that can be considered numeral classifiers (Krifka 1989; Lehmann 2000; Gunkel et al. 2017) such as Stück ‘SCL’ and Scheibe ‘slice.MCL’ in (1) and research on it has been relatively marginal. However, the rich variation in German w.r.t. declension also offers an interesting perspective for the study of classifiers. This paper focuses on German numeral classifier phrases and provides an HPSG analysis for their morphosyntax and semantics. A classifier phrase usually consists of three elements: a numeral, a noun (N1) used as a unit of measurement or counting, and another noun (N2) being measured or counted. In German, N1 and N2 are juxtaposed (Kobele & Zimmermann 2012: 265), i.e. they are tightly connected with each other. But the mode of attachment of numerals and classifiers does not simply apply to the head-specifier-phrase suggested for typical classifier languages, such as Japanese and Chinese (Bender & Siegel 2004; Ng 1997) in HPSG. Due to the different properties of ein- ‘one’ and other numerals, the analyses of classifier phrases will be discussed separately in this paper. While a numeral (NUM ̸= 1) is underspecified for being a determiner or an adjective, ein- ‘one’ in (2) can only be a subtype of determiners. On this basis, a compound structure is proposed to enable the combination of complex determiners in (3).

(1) a. zwei StückN1 ViehN2 two S C L cattle

‘two heads of cattle’

b. zwei Scheibe-nN1 BrotN2 two slice.MCL-PL bread

‘two slices of bread’

(2) ein / das Stück Vieh

one the SCL cattle

‘a / the head of cattle’

(3) diese ein-e klein-e Scheibe Brot

DEM.SG one.WK.SG small-WK.SG slice.MCL bread

‘this one small slice of bread’


Bender, Emily M. & Melanie Siegel. 2004. Implementing the syntax of Japanese numeral classifiers. In International Conference on Natural Language Processing, Berlin: Springer.

Gunkel, Lutz, Adriano Murelli, Susan Schlotthauer, Bernd Wiese & Gisela Zifonun. 2017. Grammatik des Deutschen im europäischen Vergleich: das Nominal, vol. 14. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG.

Kobele, Gregory M & Malte Zimmermann. 2012. Quantification in German. In Edward L. Keenan & Denis Paperno (eds.), Handbook of quantifiers in natural language, 227–283. Dordrecht: Springer.

Krifka, Manfred. 1989. Nominalreferenz und Zeitkonstitution. Zur Semantik von Massentermen, Pluraltermen und Aspektklassen. München: Fink.

Lehmann, Christian. 2000. On the German numeral classifier system. In Chris Schaner-Wolles, John R. Rennison & Friedrich Neubarth (eds.), Naturally! Linguistic studies in honour of Wolfgang Ulrich Dressler presented on the occasion of his 60th birthday, 249–253. Torino: Rosenberg and Sellier. https://christianlehmann.eu/publ/german_num_class.pdf.

Ng, Say Kiat. 1997. A double-specifier account of Chinese NPs using Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar: University of Edinburgh MsC thesis.

06.05.2024 Gabrielle Aguila-Multner

French clitic climbing and periphrasis

In this talk, I investigate the distribution of French weak pronominals under a novel perspective. Starting with studies on the status of such forms as lexical affixes (Miller, 1992; Auger, 1993, 1994, 1995), I propose that the logical conclusion of this result is to treat their distribution in morphological rather than syntactic terms. In the light of recent work in morphology (Vincent & Börjars, 1996; Ackerman & Webelhuth, 1998; Brown et al., 2012; Spencer, 2013) on the notion of inflectional periphrasis, I suggest that this notion is both independently motivated for French clitic climbing constructions and sufficient to explain clitic climbing in these contexts. I formulate an implementation of the theory of inflectional periphrasis by reverse selection of Bonami (2015) in Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG, Pollard & Sag, 1994). In this view of periphrasis, the lexical verb selects for morphosyntactic properties of its auxiliary. I show that clitic climbing can then be treated as an entirely morphological phenomenon, in which pronominal arguments (alongside other inflectional properties, such as tense) are simply realised on an ancillary element. In the case of tense auxiliary and copular constructions, the morphological approach simplifies phrase structure greatly over previous approaches based on argument composition (Miller & Sag, 1997; Abeillé & Godard, 1996, 2002). Despite the emphasis on periphrasis, I argue that the interaction of reflexives with auxiliation (i.e. the alternation between avoir and s'être) should not be treated as a split in the periphrastic paradigm, but as a local allomorphy in the paradigm of avoir. Finally, I expose how the approach generalises to complex predicates. The morphological approach views these constructions as causative periphrases, akin to the synthetic causatives of Japanese (Manning et al., 1999) or Bantu languages (Hyman & Mchombo, 1992). I show that this perspective, which consequently sees the infinitive as a causativised form with an augmented valency, independently results in an implementation of clause union as required for the treatment of various properties of complex predicates and in particular the possibility of long reflexives and medio-passives (se faire constructions). Compared to approaches based on argument composition, which build clause union at the level of faire, this version of clause union improves the treatment of several phenomena which are sensitive to properties of the lexical verb, which faire cannot access (Koenig, 1998). This includes in particular realisation of the subject as a by phrase, but also generally the distribution of pronominal affixes in faire constructions, which in this approach can be thought of as involving either synthetic (so-called 'clitic trapping') or periphrastic realisation ('clitic climbing'). I also develop the position that clitic climbing from an infinitive is optional in French.

13.05.2024 Tham Shiao Wei (National University of Singapore)

Explaining the divergent lexicalization of physical disturbance predicates in English and Mandarin Chinese

``Physical Disturbance'' predicates such as `crack', `dent', `scratch' etc. show widely varying morphological paradigms in English and Mandarin Chinese. Despite the divergence, I argue that both paradigms reflect the same semantic principle that a state of having a physical disturbance is not conceptualized as an inherent property of an entity (a property that the entity naturally ``comes with''), mediated through language-specific morpholexical resources. In English, physical disturbance predicates of different part of speech categories are generally associated with the same root: e.g. `crack' may be a noun or a verb, with a related adjective `cracked'. In Mandarin, physical disturbance predicates of different categories show distinct forms: the verb for `crack', lie4, cannot be used as a noun; there are, however, physical disturbance nouns such as hen2`trace/ scar' that are strictly nominal. The closest equivalent to English nominal `crack' is the compound lie4-hen2`crack-trace/scar `a crack'. I argue that there are no deverbal physical disturbance adjectives in Mandarin. Assuming that an underived adjective prototypically describes an inherent property, English resolves the non-inherent nature of physical disturbance states by using deverbal adjectives to describe such states. Mandarin does not provide the morphological means to systematically produce derived adjectives, and there is no equivalent stative description that deverbal adjectives such as `cracked' in English provide.

27.05.2024 Aleksandr Schamberger

NLP for small, endangered languages: Building an HMM (Hidden Markov Model) as a POS-Tagger (for Urum)

NLP (Natural Language Processing) seems to be all over the place. Thanks to the rise of LLMs (Large Language Models) and general-purpose AI (Artificial Intelligence) Chatbots like ChatGPT humans are able to solve a variety of complicated (linguistic) tasks. While this has been implemented for common, popular languages like English and other European languages, there haven't been similar approaches (at least that I heard of) for small, endangered languages. One obvious reason is that there is just not enough data available for these languages.

I tried to approach those small, endangered languages with computational processing, in order to to understand, whether this is possible at all and whether this helps us to understand the nature of those languages better. For this purpose, I build an HMM (Hidden Markov Model) using it as a Part-of-Speech-Tagger, applying it to one such language called Urum and compared the results to those from the news sub-corpus of the English Brown corpus.

03.06.2024 Jana Bajorat

Corpus evidence of optional ergative marking in Ika (Chibchan, Colombia)

10.06.2024 Camilo Ariza

Spanish Existential Constructions: A Comparative Analysis of Agreement in Periphrastic Constructions.

Spanish existential constructions with “haber” show unexpected characteristics when used in periphrastic constructions (auxiliaries, modals and other types of raising verbs), or in tenses other than the present indicative. Traditionally, “haber” has been interpreted as an impersonal verb in which its single argument can only be its direct object, evidenced in the accusative clitics that can take their place (Rodriguez, 2006; Ruiz, 2008), and the lack of verbal agreement with this argument (3rd Person, Singular as default). However, in the aforementioned constructions, it is often the case that the matrix verb seems to agree in number with the NP of the embedded verb, which leads to several questions regarding (i) the grammatical (and semantic) role the NP assumes in existential constructions, and (ii) the mechanism that allows the matrix verb to access the phi-features of the embedded verbs argument and why this triggers agreement.

There has already been some discussion in regard to the function, be it semantic or syntactic, the NP in an existential construction assumes (Montes De Oca, 1994), a debate which is not limited to Spanish existential constructions (McNeally, 2016). Additionally, despite the numerous investigations on the frequency and distribution of these constructions, there are only a few analyses that attempt to explain their grammaticalization (Rodríguez, 2006). As such, the goal of this study will be to present a comparative analysis of the minimalist program and the HPSG framework, more specifically in their explanation of semantic agreement (Kučerová, 2018; Sigurðsson, 2014; Wechsler, 2011), as this is what will be considered to be the cause for these constructions. This analysis will not only attempt to provide a solution that allows constructions with and without verbal agreement with the sole argument, but will also shed light on the semantic and syntactic nature of existential constructions in general.


Kučerová, I. (2018). ɸ-Features at the Syntax-Semantics Interface: Evidence from Nominal Inflection. Linguistic Inquiry; 49 (4): 813–845. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/ling_a_00290

McNally, L. (2016). Existential Sentences Crosslinguistically: Variations in Form and Meaning. Annual Review of Linguistics, 2(1), 211–231. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev- linguistics-011415-040837

Montes de Oca-Sicilia, M. del Pilar. (1994). La concordancia con haber impersonal. Anuario de letras, 32, 7-35

Rodríguez Mondoñedo, M. (2006). Spanish existentials and other accusative constructions. In Cedric Boeckx (ed.), Minimalist Essays. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 326–94.

Ruiz, G.D. (2008). The Linguistic Change of the Impersonal Verb Haber. Núcleo , 25, 103-123

Sigurðsson, H. A. (2014). Context-linked grammar. Language Sciences, 46, 175-188.

Wechsler, S. (2011). Mixed agreement, the person feature, and the index/concord distinction. at Lang Linguist Theory 29(4), 999–1031. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-011-9149-x

17.06.2024 Jozina Vander Klok, Åshild Næss

Pivot (non)-restrictions and Austronesian syntactic typology (APLL16)

A characteristic of Austronesian languages with so-called symmetrical voice systems is that they show restrictions on extraction constructions, such as relativisation, wh-questions or topicalisation: Only the argument selected by the voice morphology on the verb, often referred to as the pivot, can be relativized on or otherwise extracted (e.g., Keenan and Comrie 1976). Recent work, however, has shown that this restriction is often not without exceptions across a variety of western Austronesian languages (e.g., Erlewine and Lim 2002; Hsieh 2020, 2023; Conners 2020; McDonnell and Chen 2022), beyond initial descriptions in Tagalog (e.g., Ceña 1979; Kroeger 1993).

Interestingly, these exceptions seem to correlate with a core typological distinction in symmetrical voice languages, namely that between Philippine-type and Indonesian-type languages: in Philippine-type languages, the exceptions apply to non-pivot actor arguments, as in (1) for Tagalog, while in Indonesian-type languages, they apply to non-pivot undergoer arguments, as in (2) for Javanese. Both non-pivot extractions are with relativisation; in (1), the actor argument batang ‘child.LK’ is relativised within a Locative Voice construction, where the pivot is the theme; whereas in (2), the theme buku-ne ‘book-DEF’ is relativized from an Actor Voice construction where the pivot is the actor.


(1) batang [ni-labh-an ng bata ang damit]

child.LK PFV-launder-LV GEN child NOM clothes

‘child who washed the clothes’ (Hsieh 2023: 3, (5a))

[Central Javanese]

(2) buku-ne [sing aku wis maca ]

book-DEF REL 1 already A V.read

‘the book that I read’ (Conners 2020:266, (8c), glosses adjusted)

In this paper, we will examine this correlation and argue that it can be linked to key syntactic properties of the two structural types. The actor argument in Philippine-type languages has a number of syntactic privileges regardless of its status as pivot or non-pivot: it can bind a reflexive, it tends to linearly precede all other arguments, and it is the controller in elliptical complements or ‘Equi’ constructions (e.g., Schachter 1976, 1977; Kroeger 1993 for Tagalog). That is, the actor has an independent degree of prominence in the grammar which makes it a natural target for the extension of pivot restrictions. By contrast, the undergoer argument in the actor voice is syntactically marginal, in the sense that nearly all syntactic processes target actors or pivots. For instance in Tagalog, beyond a control construction (‘participial nang clauses’) (Kroeger 1993), no other syntactic processes appear to target the AV undergoer. In particular, a characteristic of Philippine-type languages is that the pivot is the only target of syntactic promotion. It is not possible to promote a peripheral participant to core status without at the same time making it the pivot; that is, one cannot promote a participant to the status of nonpivot undergoer.

By contrast, Indonesian-type languages have applicative constructions which can promote a peripheral participant to non-pivot core status, i.e. to the undergoer role in a direct object position in a transitive actor-voice construction, such as in (3a) where the peripheral beneficiary na’kana’ ‘children’ is a direct object with the -agi applicative in Madurese. This undergoer can then also be targeted for other syntactic operations, such as relativization, passivization, or object voice (as in (3b)), where in each case it will become the pivot but only in conjunction with applicative morphology (cf. Davies 2005; Natarina 2020; Vander Klok 2024, among others). A non-pivot undergoer thus shows a more clearly independent syntactic relation in Indonesian-type than in Philippine-type languages. We propose that the extension of pivot restrictions to include non-pivot undergoers is a natural correlate of this greater degree of syntactic independence. We suggest that at least for some Indonesian-type languages like Javanese, extension of the pivot restrictions to the actor in UV constructions is not possible for independent syntactic reasons because actors are realized as clitics.


(3) a. Hasan melle- agi na’-kana’ sepato anyar

Hasan A V .buy-AGI RED-child shoe new

‘Hasan bought new shoes for the children.’ (Davies 2005:206)

b. na’-kana’ e-belle-agi sepato anyar bi’ Hasan

RED-child OV.buy-AGI shoe new by Hasan

‘Hasan bought new shoes for the children.’ (Davies 2005:207,)

We hypothesise that the gradual relaxation of pivot restrictions has played a role in the historical development of syntactic differences across the Austronesian family (cf. McDonnell and Chen 2022), and will discuss possible pathways of change resulting from such extensions. For example, the extension of pivot restrictions to include the actor of the undergoer voice results in an incipient subject relation in the syntax: S and A can now be relativised on across constructions, whereas this is not the case for O. Coupled with other morphosyntactic changes, this development is potentially relevant for understanding the rise of accusative alignment in languages in the eastern part of the Austronesian area.


Conners, Thomas J. 2020. Javanese Undressed: Isolating Phenomena in ‘Peripheral’ Dialects. In Austronesian Undressed, D. Gil and A. Schapper eds., 253-286. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Davies, William D. 2005. The Richness of Madurese Voice. In Arka, I. W. & M. Ross (eds.), The many faces of Austronesian voice systems: some new empirical studies. Pacific Linguistics, Canberra. 197–220.

Erlewine, Michael Yoshitaka, and Cheryl Lim. 2023. Bikol clefts and topics and the Austronesian extraction restriction. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 41, 911-960.

Hsieh, Henrison. 2020. Beyond nominative: A broader view of A’-dependencies in Tagalog. Doctoral Dissertation, McGill University.

Hsieh, Henrison, 2023. Locality in exceptional Tagalog A′-extraction. Linguistic Inquiry. Early Access.

Keenan, Edward L., and Bernard Comrie. 1977. Noun phrase accessibility and Universal Grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 8(1): 63–99.

Kroeger, Paul. 1993. Phrase structure and grammatical relations in Tagalog. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

McDonnell, Bradley, and Victoria Chen. 2022. The evolution of syntax in Western Austronesian. In Chris Shei and Saihong Li (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Asian Linguistics, 11-32. London: Routledge.

Natarina, Ari, 2020. ‘Specificity and the Balinese morpheme -ang’. In T. J. Conners and J. Vander Klok, eds. Selected papers of the Seventh International Symposium on the Languages of Java (ISLOJ 7). NUSA 69: 3–26. doi: https://doi.org/10.15026/95699

Ross, Malcolm. 2004. The morphosyntactic typology of Oceanic languages. Language and Linguistics 5(2). 491–541.

Schachter, Paul. 1976. The subject in Philippine languages: topic, actor, actor topic, or none of the above. In Charles Li (ed.), Subject and topic, 49–518. New York: Academic Press.

Schachter, Paul. 1977. Reference-related and role-related properties of subjects. In Peter Cole and Jerrold M. Saddock (eds.), Syntax and Semantics. Volume 8: Grammatical relations, 279–306. New York: Academic Press.

Vander Klok, Jozina. 2024. ‘Post-verbal word order variation in applicatives in Javanese.’ In: Prominence in Austronesian (Empirical Approaches to Linguistic Typology series), eds. Å. Næss, B. Evans & J. Vander Klok. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 129-168. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110730753-005


01.07.2024 Jana Bajorat, Sarah Zobel

Differential subject marking and optional ergative marking in Ika (Chibchan, Colombia) (Bajorat); On the distributivity of "größtenteils" (Zobel)

Differential subject marking and optional ergative marking in Ika (Chibchan, Colombia)

In Ika, an understudied Chibchan language spoken by approx. 25,700 people (number from 2018, DANE (2021)) in Colombia, ergative marking depends on three different factors: person of subject and object, argument order, and marking of information-structural notions. These phenomena are characterised as differential subject marking through the ergative (see, e.g., de Hoop & de Swart, 2009; Witzlack-Makarevich & Seržant, 2018) and optional ergative case marking (see, e.g., McGregor, 2010; Riesberg, 2018). Thus, both differential argument marking and optional case marking come together when dealing with the ergative marker in Ika.

In basic canonical clauses in Ika, subjects and objects are unmarked (SOV-order). How- ever, in some cases, the subject is marked with the ergative case marker =se". Previous research has attributed multifaceted functions to this marker, such as discourse-pragmatic factors (Levinsohn & Tracy, 1977; Frank, 1985) or disambiguation/identification of the subject (Frank, 1990; Landaburu, 2000). Own elicited, experimental, and corpus data reveal that only a combination of both accounts offers a satisfactory explanation that operates on three layers: First, Ika shows differential subject marking via the ergative case marker triggered by person acting on a ‘global’ level: the ergative marker attaches only to third person subjects (and not to first or second person subjects), and only in clauses in which the object is also third person (and not first or second person). Ergative marking in clauses with first or second person subject or object results ungrammatical (see examples 1 and 2).

Second, the ergative marker is obligatory in clauses with (two 3rd person arguments and) non-canonical argument orders, i.e. STRANSV, OSV, SVO, OSV in Ika. Otherwise, one would not be able to disambiguate subject and object: For first and second person subjects or objects, personal clitics cross-reference the respective argument. Furthermore, egophoric marking in Ika is also influenced by person and helps, thus, to discriminate subject and object. This is not the case in clauses with two third person argument, where argument identification is based on argument order (besides ergative marking; see examples 3 to 7).

And third, the marker is optional in canonical SOV-order (example 8) and functions as marker of information-structural notions, presumably focus or prominence marking (cf. Krifka & Musan, 2012; von Heusinger & Schumacher, 2019). Both versions are grammati- cally correct and do not differ semantically from each other, although in certain information- structural contexts, the version with the ergative marking pragmatically is strongly preferred.

It is tempting to assume that also the marking of information-structural notions is also the underlying factor of ergative marking triggered by changes of argument order. The present study will based on elicitation, experimental, and corpus data show, however, that argument linearisation alone is the conditioning factor for ergative marking within this layer, and that other factors such as knowledge of the world or information structure are outranked by the simple syntactic rule that movement or omission of the object lead to ergative marking.

(1) nʉn(*=se") Pedru pʉ u-k-w-in.


‘I hit Pedru.’ SOV

(2) Pedru(*=se") nʉ=pʉ u-y-in.


‘Pedru hit me.’ SOV

(3) Pedru Juan pʉs-ʉn nug-in.


‘Pedru is hitting Juan.’ SOV

(4) Juan Pedru pʉs-ʉn nug-in.


‘Juan is hitting Pedru.’ SOV

(5) Juan Pedru=se" pʉs-ʉn nug-in.


‘Pedru is hitting Juan.’ OSV

(6) Pedru pʉs-ʉn nug-in.


‘He/she/it is hitting Pedru.’ OV

(7) Pedru=se" pʉs-ʉn nug-in. Pedru=ERG hit-IPFV AUX.NONEGO-DECL

‘Pedru is hitting him/her/it.’ STRANSV

(8) Pedru(=se") Juan pʉs-ʉn nug-in.


‘Pedru is hitting Juan.’ SOV


DANE. (2021). Resultados del censo nacional de población y vivienda 2018: Pueblos arhuaco, kankuamo, y wiwa. Retrieved 19.01.2023, from Mhttps://www.dane.gov.co/ files/investigaciones/boletines/grupos-etnicos/presentacion-pueblos-arhuaco -kankuamo-wiwa-CNPV2018.pdf

de Hoop, H., & de Swart, P. (Eds.). (2009). Differential subject marking (Vol. 72). Dordrecht: Springer-Verlag.

Frank, P. S. (1985). A grammar of ika (Dissertation). University of Pennyslvinia.

Frank, P. S. (1990). Ika syntax (Vol. 1). Dallas, TX and [Arlington]: Summer Institute of Linguistics and University of Texas at Arlington.

Krifka, M., & Musan, R. (2012). Information structure: Overview and linguistic issues. In M. Krifka & R. Musan (Eds.), The expression of information structure (pp. 1–43). Berlin and Boston: Mouton de Gruyter.

Landaburu, J. (2000). La lengua ika. In González de Pérez, María Stella & Rodríguez de Montes, Maria Luisa (Eds.), Lenguas indígenas de colombia (pp. 733–748). Santafé de Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo.

Levinsohn, S. H., & Tracy, H. (1977). Participant reference in ika expository discourse. In R. E. Longacre & F. Woods (Eds.), Discourse grammar: studies in indigenous languages of colombia, panama, and ecuador (pp. 3–24). Dallas, Texas: Summer Institute of Linguistics and University of Texas.

McGregor, W. B. (2010). Optional ergative case marking systems in a typological-semiotic perspective. Lingua, 120(7), 1610–1636. doi: M10.1016/j.lingua.2009.05.010

Riesberg, S. (2018). Optional ergative, agentivity and discourse prominence – evidence from yali (trans-new guinea). Linguistic Typology, 22(1), 17–50. doi: M10.1515/lingty -2018-0002

von Heusinger, K., & Schumacher, P. B. (2019). Discourse prominence: Definition and application. Journal of Pragmatics, 154, 117–127. doi: M10.1016/j.pragma.2019.07.025

Witzlack-Makarevich, A., & Seržant, I. A. (2018). Differential argument marking: Patterns of variation. In I. A. Seržant & A. Witzlack-Makarevich (Eds.), Diachrony of differential argument marking (pp. 1–40). Berlin: Language Science Press.

On the distributivity of "größtenteils"

In this talk, I will investigate the distributivity of the German adverb of quantity "größtenteils" (i) and relate it to a previous proposal of semantic contribution, which I put forward in Zobel (2021).

(i) a. Die Röcke sind größtenteils braun.

the skirts are for-the-most-part brown.

b. der Rock ist größtenteils braun.

the skirt is for-the-most-part brown.

German "größtenteils" is comparable to English "for the most part" in that both adverbs intuitively quantify over parts of a totality/whole (i.e., they are partitive quantifiers).Beyond this initial observation, there is currently no consensus in the literature on how the partitive quantification expressed by adverbs of quantity is encoded in the semantics of the adverb (e.g., Beck & Sharvit 2002, Nakanishi & Romero 2004, Hinterwimmer 2020). In Zobel 2021, I analyzed "größtenteils" as an expression that measures a part of some (explicitly or contextually given) totality/whole against its complement -- ignoring how the semantic properties of the predication. In this talk, I will focus on the question whether qualification with "größtenteils" is distributive and compare its quantificational behaviour to that of English "all" (e.g., Champollion 2010).

08.07.2024 Arne Gölz

Deliberative Modality and Weak Necessity

The German modal sollte and the English modal should can either occur as WEAK NECESSITY MODALS (1a) or as what Sode and Sugawara (2019) call DELIBERATIVE MODALS (1b).

(1) a. Pete should be in his room.

b. Should Susan win the race, her family will get rich.

On the surface the two types of modality seem incommensurable. In contrast to variation in modal flavor (Kratzer 2012) or modal force (Rullmann et al. 2008), this type of variation has no ready-made theoretical explanation. While the weak necessity modal contributes a truth conditional or an at-issue content, the proper analysis of which has recently seen much discussion (Rubinstein 2020), the deliberative use of sollte seems to not affect the at-issue content at all. Rather, in its deliberative use, the semantic import of sollte is limited to a presuppositional content. Furthermore whether sollte appears as a weak necessity or a deliberative modal is highly construction specific. My talk shall give a basic overview on the topic of deliberative modality. Not much has been written on it so far, such that as a first task we have to properly map this new territory. Furthermore I will try to connect the dots and answer, or at least problematise, two questions. First, how do weak necessity and deliberativity relate to each other? And second, how does this relation connect to the bigger topic of X-marking?


Kratzer, Angelika (2012). Modals and conditionals. OCLC: 784953330. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rubinstein, Aynat (2020). “Weak Necessity.” In: The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Semantics. Ed. by Daniel Gutzmann et al. 1st ed. Wiley, pp. 1–44.

Rullmann, Hotze, Lisa Matthewson, and Henry Davis (2008). “Modals as distributive indefinites.” In: Natural Language Semantics 16.4, pp. 317–357.

Sode, Frank and Ayaka Sugawara (2019). “On the Deliberative Use of the German Modal sollte.” In: New Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence. Ed. by Kazuhiro Kojima et al. Vol. 11717. Series Title: Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 341– 356.

15.07.2024 Jian Ma

Affectedness and Intentionality of Passive Subject in Mandarin Chinese Bèi-Construction

This contribution investigates semantic features of passive subject (i.e. patient, stimulus, or other possible θ-roles as passive subject) in Mandarin Chinese bèi-construction. I propose two features that are manifested by the subject of bèi-passive yet are either vague or silent in its corresponding active form: affectedness and intentionality.

First, I argue that the passive subject of incremental theme verb must undergo a change, unlike its active form counterpart, which may exhibit vagueness or ambiguity on the result due to sublexical modality (cf. Dowty 1979, Koenig & Muansuwan 2020, Martin & Schäfer 2017, among others) and hence allows zero result reading, cf. (1) and (2). An acceptability test with 1–7 Likert-scale indicates that the bèi-passive of such verbs is less acceptable in contexts where the patient undergoes no change, analogous to the behavior of change-of-state verbs, e.g., cā 'wipe' vs. tōu 'steal'.

(1) Zhāngsān cā-le hēibǎn, dànshì shénme yě méi cā-diào.

Zhangsan wipe-PFV blackboard but anything even NEG wipe-away

‘Zhangsan wiped the blackboard, but nothing was erased.’

(2) Hēibǎn bèi Zhāngsān cā-le, ??dànshì shénme yě méi cā-diào.

blackboard BEI Zhangsan wipe-PFV but anything even NEG wipe-away

intended: ‘The blackboard was wiped by Zhangsan, but nothing was erased.’

Second, the animate passive subject can show intentionality through modifier, e.g. adverb gùyì ‘intentionally’, whereas it is unable to reveal intentionality in active. Additionally, contrary to the ambiguous source of intention in English passive (depending on individual interpretation), it can be clearly identified in bèi-passive via word order, cf. (3) and its English translation. A corpus-based case study on gùyì ‘intentionally’ in bèi-passives demonstrates that the intentionality of passive subject is constrained by the animacy and the causativity of the verb.

(3) Lǐsì (gùyì)1 bèi Zhāngsān (gùyì)2 zhuàng-dào.

Lisi intentionally BEI Zhangsan intentionally bump-RES

‘Lisi was intentionally bumped by Zhangsan.’

= 1: ‘Lisi was bumped by Zhangsan and this was what Lisi intended.’

= 2: ‘Lisi was bumped by Zhangsan and this was what Zhangsan intended.’

Finally, I provide the event structure for the bèi-passives based on the analysis of the aforementioned data (building on Beavers & Lee 2020). I argue that the passivisation of incremental theme verbs necessarily involves change, i.e. degree of change must be encoded in terms of affectedness (cf. Beavers 2011). Furthermore, the intentionality of the passive subject is introduced by bèi, which also entails a passive subject affectee and an eventuality P(v). The possibility of applying this event structure to other bèi-passive constructions, e.g. gapless-passives, is also considered.


Beavers, John. 2011. On affectedness. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29. 335–370.

Beavers, John, & Lee, Juwon. 2020. Intentionality, scalar change, and non-culmination in Korean caused change-of-state predicates. Linguistics, 58(5), 1233-1283.

Dowty, David. 1979. Word meaning and Montague Grammar. Dordrecht: Reidel. Koenig, Jean-Pierre & Nuttannart Muansuwan. 2000. How to end without ever finishing: Thai semiperfectivity. Journal of Semantics 17. 147–182.

Martin, Fabienne & Florian Schäfer. 2017. Sublexical modality in defeasible causative verbs. In Ana Arregui, Maria Luisa Rivero & Andres Salanova (eds.), Modality across syntactic categories, 87–108. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Vergangene Semester


Wintersemester 2023/24


Dienstags, 16:15-17:45
BA und Mas­ter Lin­gu­is­tik


17.10.2023 Organisation

24.10.2023 János Litzinger

Hybrid agreement in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian: A NP-analysis in HPSG


31.10.2023 Andreas Pregla

Postverbal elements in OV languages

Most OV languages allow for at least some postverbal elements (PVE). Even when PVE exclude the potentially biclausal afterthought and right dislocation, strict verb-finality without any PVE, as in Japanese and Nepali, is rare. To my knowledge, there is no previous descriptive or structural typology of PVE in verb-final languages. Therefore, this talk presents a first attempt at such a typology. Descriptively, PVE vary in two dimensions. The first dimension is the morphosyntactic category and function of the PVE. The second dimension is the information-structural status of the PVE. The first dimension can be represented as an implicational hierarchy. On the high end of the hierarchy, PVE can be of any category, including non-referential elements such as parts of idioms. On the other end, PVE are restricted to sentential elements. In this hierarchy, non-oblique PVE are a pivotal threshold: when PVE can be non-obliques, they can be employed for information structure (or vice versa). Information structure leads to the second dimension of variation. Many areally and genetically unrelated languages only allow for given PVE. PVE of this kind are reported in the literature on Turkic languages, Quechuan languages, Siouan languages, Indo-European languages, and Amharic. Original data are presented for Standard Dargwa and Meadow Mari. There is an additional difference in whether these given PVE can be contrastive. Information focus as PVE occurs more rarely, as in Georgian. These languages are straightforwardly classified as underlying verb-final since PVE are a marked option. In contrast, the Uralic languages Estonian and Udmurt allow for any category of PVE and postverbal information focus. Moreover, verb-medial orders can be used in the same contexts as verb-final orders without semantic and pragmatic differences. As such, verb placement is subject to actual free variation. The underlying verb-finality of Estonian and Udmurt can only be inferred from a range of diagnostics. Providing the diagnostics to distinguish between the structural status of a PVE is the first step towards a structural typology of PVE. In Estonian and Udmurt, the distribution of verb particles (Estonian only), foci, and adverbials indicate optional verb movement. Additionally, Udmurt features another kind of PVE derived by rightward phrasal movement. In general, it is not possible to account for PVE with a uniform analysis: rightward merge, leftward verb movement, and rightward phrasal movement are required to capture the cross- and intralinguistic variation. The descriptive and structural typology sketch presented here sparks the question of what determines which PVE, descriptively and structurally, a verb-final language allows for.



21.11.2023 Chenyuan Deng, Giuseppe Varaschin, Antonio Machicao y Priemer

Mandarin Chinese nominal complexes: unifying classifiers, modifiers and demonstratives

The structure of Mandarin Chinese nominal complexes (CNCs) is subject to extensive re- search, with the main issues centering on the implications for right and left-branching analyses and for the NP/DP debate (Cheng & Sybesma, 1999; Bošković & Hsieh, 2013; Her & Tsai, 2020). However, there has been little work on CNCs in the tradition of HPSG (Pollard & Sag, 1994). In this paper, we attempt to bridge this gap and argue that the distributional properties of modifiers and demonstratives with respect to nouns and classifiers motivate a head-functor approach (HFA) (Van Eynde, 2006, 2021), where [Num CL N] sequences are analyzed as left- branching NPs. The HFA allows us to unify the combinatorial properties of CLs, Mods and Dems (thus explaining their similarities in Mandarin Chinese), while also accounting for their differences by means of selectional constraints and a hierarchy of M(A)RK(ING) values. All in all, our analysis entails that CNCs are fundamentally different from nominal structures in languages with dedicated determiners, suggesting a two-way typology of languages which is parallel to the NP/DP parameter proposed in the minimalist tradition (Chierchia 1998; Bošković 2008, i.a.).

Abbreviations used in the paper: N(P)=noun (phrase), DP=determiner phrase, Num=numeral, CL=classifier, Dem=demonstrative.


Bošković, Željko. 2008. What will you have, DP or NP? In Emily Elfner & Martin Walkow (eds.), Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society, vol. 37 1, 101–114. Amherst, MA: University of Massachussetts Press.

Bošković, Željko & I-Ta Chris Hsieh. 2013. On word order, binding relations, and plurality in chinese noun phrases. Studies in Polish Linguistics 8(4).

Cheng, Lisa Lai-Shen & Rint Sybesma. 1999. Bare and not-so-bare nouns and the structure of NP. Linguistic Inquiry 30(4). 509–542.

Chierchia, Gennaro. 1998. Reference to kinds across language. Natural language semantics 6(4). 339–405.

Her, One-Soon & Hui-Chin Tsai. 2020. Left is right, right is not: On the constituency of the classifier phrase in Chinese. Language and Linguistics 21(1). 1–32.

Pollard, Carl J. & Ivan A. Sag. 1994. Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar Studies in Contem- porary Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Van Eynde, Frank. 2006. NP-internal agreement and the structure of the noun phrase. Journal of Linguistics 42(1). 139–186. doi:10.1017/S0022226705003713.

Van Eynde, Frank. 2021. Nominal structures. In Stefan Müller, Anne Abeillé, Robert D. Borsley & Jean-Pierre Koenig (eds.), Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar: The handbook, 275–313. Berlin: Language Science Press. doi:10.5281/zenodo.5599832.



05.12.2023 Rikasih Tarjuki

Zur Modalität des Subdialekts des Javanischen Ngapak Pemalangan

Javanisch zählt zu den meist erforschten austronesischen Sprachen. Sie verfügt über eine Vielzahl von Dialekten. Obwohl einige dieser Dialekte bereits hinsichtlich ihrer Modalität untersucht wurden, steht eine detaillierte Analyse des Ngapak Pêmalangan noch aus.

Der Begriff Modalität in der Sprachwissenschaft bezieht sich auf eine spezifische Art von Bedeutung. Modalausdrücke ermöglichen umfassende Aussagen über mögliche Situationen, die nicht zwangsläufig zeitlich, räumlich oder situativ mit der gegenwärtigen Realität verbunden sind (vgl. Matthewson, 2016; Schmitt, 2020).

In meiner Abschlussarbeit versuche ich durch den Einsatz von Fragebögen und Diskussionen mit drei Muttersprachlern des Ngapak Pêmalangan zu analysieren, wie die Modalität in diesem Subdialekt sprachlich zum Ausdruck kommt. Ähnlich wie das javanische Paciran und Basa Alusan verfügt auch das Ngapak Pêmalangan über epistemische und nicht-epistemische Modalitätsausdrücke. Im Gegensatz zum javanischen Paciran scheint es jedoch im Ngapak Pêmalangan keinen Ausdruck für die buletische Notwendigkeit zu geben.

Die buletische Notwendigkeit wird in Ngapak Pêmalangan entweder durch die Verwendung der 1SG-Passiv-Konstruktion oder des Futurmarkers rêpan ausgedrückt. Ngapak Pêmalangan weist, ähnlich wie andere Varietäten des Javanischen oder andere Sprachen wie Englisch und Lillooet Salish, eine differenzierte Gradmodifikation von Möglichkeit und Notwendigkeit auf, nämlich in Form von starken und schwachen Notwendigkeiten. Allerdings lässt sich in diesem Subdialekt scheinbar eine Unterscheidung zwischen dem schwachen epistemischen Möglichkeitsmodal mbokan ’vielleicht’ und dem reinen epistemischen Möglichkeitsmodal paling ’vielleicht’ erkennen.

Die Mehrdeutigkeit der Modalität im Ngapak Pêmalangan zeigt sich besonders deutlich bei dem Modal kêna, welches kontextuell die Bedeutung von zirkumstantiell-umstandbezogenem ’können’, deontischer Möglichkeit ’dürfen’ Ratschlagsausdruck ’sollen’ zu vermitteln scheint.


19.12.2023 Jian Ma, Paola Fritz-Huechante

Passivisation of Experiencer Subject Verbs in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish:

Research claims that experiencer subject (ES) verbs (e.g. love) form stative predicates and hence are unable to form passives (cf. Grimshaw 1990, Belletti & Rizzi 1988, Pesetsky 1995, Truswell 2009; in contrast: Gehrke & Marco 2015). However, we observe that a subset of Mandarin Chinese (Cmn) and Spanish (Spa) ES verbs can be passivized as in (1a) and (2a), respectively. We propose two factors that have an impact on ES verbs passivisation: (i) role linkage between the two arguments, i.e. the human stimulus and experiencer, and (ii) state types, i.e. two subsets of ES stative verbs: Kimian state and Davidsonian state. Regarding the role linkage, we propose that passivisation is facilitated by a close relation (or close referentiality) of the participant introduced by the by-phrase with the experiencer (vs. a non-referential relation), cf. (1a) and (2a). In terms of state types, we propose that ES verbs showing more properties of Davidsonian states, e.g. progressive acceptability (cf. (1b) and (2b)), are more acceptable in passive structures.

(1) Mandarin Chinese

a. Zǒngtǒng bèi tāde érzi / ??zhège chūzūchē-sījī xǐhuān.

president BEI his son this taxi-driver like

‘The president is liked by his son / this taxi driver.’

b. Zhāngsān zhèng xǐhuān-zhe / *zūnjìng-zhe Lǐsì.

Zhangsan in.the.process like-PROG respect-PROG Lisi

‘Zhangsan is right now liking / respecting Lisi.’

(2) Spanish

a. El presidente es quer-ido por su hijo / ??el taxista.

the president is love-PTCP by hisson the taxi.driver

‘The president is loved by his son / the taxi driver.’

b. Manuel está quer-iendo a Camila / ?respet-ando a Camila.

Manuel is love-PROG to Camila respect-PROG to Camila

‘Manuel is loving Camila / respecting Camila.’

In a series of (ongoing) experiments (forced-choice selection and Likert scale), we test the previous factors with respect to the participants’ acceptability ratings regarding passivisation. The studies further shed light on cross-linguistic differences and commonalities between the target languages in the psych domain.


Belletti, Adriana and Luigi, Rizzi. 1988. Psych-verbs and Theta-Theory. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory (6)3, 291–352.

Gehrke, Berit and Cristina Marco. 2015. Las pasivas psicológicas. In Rafael Marín (ed.), Los predicados psicológicos, 117–157. Madrid: Visor. Grimshaw, Jane. 1990. Argument structure. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Landau, Idan. 2010. The locative syntax of experiencers. London: MIT Press.

Pesetsky, David. 1995. Zero Syntax: Experiencers and cascades. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Truswell, Robert. 2009. Preposition stranding, passivisation, and extraction from adjuncts in Germanic. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 8(1). 131–177.


16.01.2024 Marcel Danne

"Der Einfluss der Diskursprominenz von Agens und Patiens auf die Wahl der Diathese"


23.01.2024 Jieun Oh

The types of the so-called nominative marker ‘-i/ka’ in Korean & analysis of case-alternation in complex predicates

The Korean particle -i/ka is widely recognized as a subjective(nominative) marker, signifying that the nominal phrase with -i/ka serves as the subject. Research has proposed the existence of double- subject constructions in Korean and suggested these constructions depend on the semantic property of the verb, specifically on the factor of agentivity (Ko, 2001). These constructions can only be formed with adjectives as seen in (1) and non-agentive predicates as seen in (2). On the other hand, Song (2009) has stated that double-subject constructions do not exist in Korean and that they are referred to as double nominative constructions. Here, the following types of construction are suggested: size type, quantifier type, adverbial type and adjective type.

(1) a.

ku salam-i son-i kkway khu-ta.

the person-nom hand-nom pretty big-decl

‘The person has pretty big hands.’


ai-ka meli-ka koh-ta

child-nom head-nom good-decl

‘The child is smart.’

(2) a.

namwu-ka saylo iph-i tot-ass-ta.

tree-nom newly leaf-nom sprout-pst-decl

‘New leaves sprouted on the tree.’


Yenghuy-ka elkwul-i yewi-ess-ta.

Yenghuy-nom face-nom become.thin-pst-decl

‘Younghee’s face was thin.’

In this presentation, I demonstrate the features of the particle -i/ka in Korean based on the double nominative construction and clarify its types of the particle -i/ka. By demonstrating the features of the particle -i/ka, I claim that the particle can be used as the marker for topic and focus. Based on this assumption, I recommend that the phenomenon known as the case-alternation in complex predicates with ship- ‘want’ be analyzed in such a way that the grammatical case of the second argument does not change but is instead attached to the topic marker, as seen in (3b). I suggest adopting the topic-clause and focus-clause in complex predicates with ship- ‘want’ and propose analyzing this phenomenon in HPSG by means of the head-filler-phrase schema (cf. Müller 2018; Kim 2016; Song & Bender 2012).

(3) a.

Sea-ka sakwa-lul mek-ko siph-ta.

Sea-nom apple-acc eat-conn want-decl

‘Sea wants to eat an apple.’


Sea-ka sakwa-ka mek-ko siph-ta.

Sea-nom apple-foc eat-conn want-decl

‘Sea wants to eat an APPLE.’


Kim, Jong-Bok. 2016. The syntactic structures of korean: A construction grammar perspective, vol. 1. UK: Cam- bridge University Press.

Ko, Kwangju. 2001. Why does doulbe subject phenomenon appear? Korean Language Research 9. 1–26.

Müller, Stefan. 2018. A lexicalist account of argument struc- ture: Template"=based phrasal LFG approaches and a lexical HPSG alternative (Conceptual Foundations of Language Science 2). Berlin: Language Science Press. doi:10.5281/zenodo.1441351. http://langsci-press. org/catalog/book/163.

Song, Changseon. 2009. The critical remarks upon the dou- ble subject constructions in korean. The Journal of Ko- rean Language and Literature Education 45. 449–474.

Song, Sanghoun & Emily M Bender. 2012. Individual constraints for information structure. In Proceedings of the 19th international conference on head-driven phrase structure grammar, 330–348.


06.02.2024 Elisabeth Verhoeven

The agent-focus form in Yucatec Maya Disentangling sources of variation

Mayan languages are famous for their so-called agent focus (AF) form that appears in several types in cases of extraction of subjects of transitive verbs (cf. Stiebels 2006; Aissen 2017). A major challenge in the analysis of the AF form in Yucatec Maya is its variable occurrence dependent on a number of factors, among them the type of extraction (relative clause, agent focus construction, wh-question, e. g. Bricker 1979; Norcliffe 2009; Gutiérrez-Bravo 2017) and certain person constellations that bear potential ambiguity between subject and object extraction. Potential ambiguity arises with two third person (= non-local) arguments but not when one argument is a local person. Furthermore, evidence from Mayan shows an asymmetry between the mentioned extraction contexts in the following direction: wh-question > argument focus > relative clause, whereby the probability of the occurrence of the AF decreases from left to right. Dependent on the specific language and/or speaker groups, this manifests as a grammatical rule or a frequency difference (e.g. Heaton et al. 2016; Coon et al. 2021).

In this talk we will present and discuss the results of an experimental study examining the choice of the agent focus form in a setting with extraction type and person as independent linguistic variables. Further (non-)linguistic factors were controlled via a social questionnaire containing, among others, questions on age, location of birth, current residence, and the frequency of use of Yucatec Maya and Spanish in every-day life. We examine these data to assess their impact on the choice of the AF form.


Aissen, Judith. 2017. Correlates of ergativity in Mayan. In The Oxford Handbook of Ergativity, Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198739371.013.30

Bricker, Victoria R. 1979. Wh-questions, relativization, and clefting in Yucatec Maya. Papers in Mayan Linguistics 107–136.

Coon, Jessica & Baier, Nico & Levin, Theodore. 2021. Mayan agent focus and the ergative extraction constraint: Facts and fictions revisited. Language 97(2). 269–332. https://doi.org/ 10.1353/lan.2021.0019

Gutiérrez-Bravo, Rodrigo. 2017. Clefts and focus in Yucatec Maya [Oraciones escindidas y foco en maya yucateco]. Cuadernos de Lingüística de El Colegio de México 4(1). 5–47.

Heaton, Raina & Deen, Kamil & O’Grady, William. 2016. The status of syntactic ergativity in Kaqchikel 170. 35–46. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lingua.2015.10.006

Norcliffe, Elisabeth. 2009. Head marking in usage and grammar. Stanford University. Dept. of Linguistics: dissertation.

Stiebels, Barbara. 2006. Agent Focus in Mayan Languages. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 24(2). 501 – 570. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-005-0539-9

13.02.2024 Stefan Schnell, Universität Zürich

Reference production across spoken human languages

In this talk I provide an overview of our latest research into reference production across spoken language corpora. Reference production encompasses all means by which users of human languages introduce and keep track of the entities they elaborate on during (spoken) verbal communication. Central to this concern is the choice of different types of referring expression, in particular those between full descriptions, some reduced referential device and zero forms. Another aspect of reference in discourse involves constructional choices and the placement of referring expressions in constructional frames, be that in canonical argument position within simple sentences or in some ‘special’ position within a construction dedicated to information management, e.g. a dislocated or inverted position or that of a presentational predicate, etc. Finally, the linear order of referring expressions within a sentence is of central concern to an understanding of reference production. The later two aspects are closely inter-linked with the more general concern of information management.

I will be addressing two general questions in relation to these aspects of reference production: firstly, the aim of research into reference production is to understand the (processing-related) mechanisms behind attested choices during production. This involves two basic possibilities, namely that discourse and reference production is tailored primarily towards addressees’ comprehension needs or that merely producer-oriented concerns are of primary importance. Secondly, a long line of research in functional-typological linguistics has been stipulating that matters of discourse processing represent the seedbed for the development of human language grammars in diachrony, and hence explain why these systems are designed the way they are as observable in their current states. In our group and within our collaborative research network, we deploy corpus-linguistic and computational methods to address these questions, drawing centrally (but not exclusively) on a multilingual corpus of spoken language texts (Mulit-CAST, https://multicast.aspra.uni-bamberg.de) whose design principles and annotations will be sketched in relation to the question posed. The following preliminary findings will be outlined as backed by specific studies, both published and in progress:

1. Reference production is driven by the same functional factors across diverse languages, but also by more language-specific structural factors that can override functional considerations

2. More general concerns of communicative goals, for instance the ontological class of global discourse topics and register differences, are more important for construction-related choices than information management within local discourse context

3. The distribution of speech rate alternations as well as co-speech gestures do indicate planning challenges, yet these encompass a variety of factors, including referential and lexical choices as well as interlocutors’ social relations

The diachronic development of human language can thus not be modelled primarily in discourse- functional terms but instead requires considerations of a broad range of factors of different levels of linguistic representation, including in particular (to some extent idiosyncratic) structural as well as interactional factors; such models will be probabilistic rather than mechanistic.

Sommersemester 2023



09.05.2023 Jana Bajorat

Valency Markers in Ika

Ika (ISO 639-9: arh) is an understudied Chibchan language spoken by ap- prox. 25,700 people (number from 2018, DANE (2021)) in Colombia. This talk will present new descriptive data concerning function and properties of mainly four productive valency/voice changing prefixes. These markers only had been described in Frank’s dissertation (1985) and follow-up publications (e.g., Frank, 1990, 2008), partly also by Landaburu (2000), and are urgently in need of updating and more in-depth description: First, there are two applica- tive markers, kʉ- and nh- ~ i-, that I will discuss in terms of semantic roles of the respective applied objects and their morphosyntactic properties. Then, there is the prefix rinha- that serves both as a reflexive and reciprocal marker and intransitivises the verb. Lastly, Ika shows the marker ʉn-, which has been described as valency-changing a ‘(point of) reference’ marker by Frank (1985, 1990), and as a reflexive marker by Landaburu (2000: 740). Its cluster of func- tions is still very fuzzy and its place within the valency changing operations debatable.

At the talk, I will present an overview of the properties of the four markers in terms of transitivity (changing operations), morphosyntax, semantics, and overall functions with a special emphasis on the applicatives.


DANE. (2021). Resultados del censo nacional de población y vivienda 2018: Pueblos arhuaco, kankuamo, y wiwa. Retrieved 19.01.2023, from Mhttps:// www.dane.gov.co/files/investigaciones/boletines/grupos-etnicos/ presentacion-pueblos-arhuaco-kankuamo-wiwa-CNPV2018.pdf

Frank, P. S. (1985). A grammar of ika (Dissertation). University of Pennyslvinia.

Frank, P. S. (1990). Ika syntax (Vol. 1). Dallas, TX and [Arlington]: Summer Institute of Linguistics and University of Texas at Arlington.

Frank, P. S. (2008). Gramática de la lengua arhuaca. Estudios de Lingüística Chibcha(17), 7–99.

Landaburu, J. (2000). La lengua ika. In González de Pérez, María Stella & Rodríguez de Montes, Maria Luisa (Eds.), Lenguas indígenas de colombia (pp. 733–748). Santafé de Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo.

16.05.2023 Clàudia Martínez

Partitive-ne as argument of intransitive verbs in Catalan

The clitic ne in Catalan, analogous to ne in Italian and en in French, has partitive meaning and the literature states it can represent an object of a transitive verb or indef- inite subject of an unaccusative verb [IEC, 2018]. Our intuition told us that the clitic appeared with so-called unergative verbs, as opposed to unaccusative, and we wanted to test if that was the reality of Catalan speakers. Our study with native speakers showed very interesting results from which we could conclude that the distribution of en-partitive does not correspond to the common claims. We then find ourselves with an open range of possibilities: if it is not unaccusativity that determines the possibility of en-partitive corresponding a subject of intransitive verbs, what is it then? Our findings have, moreover, impactful consequences towards Unaccusativity Hypothesis given that the ability of clitizicing with ne as a subject is a widespread described test to determine if a verb is indeed unaccusative [Anagnostopoulou et al., 2004], [Belletti and Rizzi, 1981], [Burzio, 1986]. This circular definition lead us towards a revision of unaccusativity itself, looking at every verbal diagnostic that had ever been proposed before and, unfortunately, finding none. The difference between unaccusative and unergative verbs looks rather se- mantic and it does not seem possible to define it syntactically, a struggle that has been pointed out before [McNally and Fontana, 1994].

Our following steps are going to be more experiments that allow us to make an accurate description of partitive-ne in Catalan and to draw the characteristics of those verbs that take part in the cliticization.


[Anagnostopoulou et al., 2004] Anagnostopoulou, E., Alexiadou, A., Everaert, M., et al. (2004). The unaccusativity puzzle: Explorations of the syntax-lexicon interface, vol- ume 5. Oxford University Press on Demand.

[Belletti and Rizzi, 1981] Belletti, A. and Rizzi, L. (1981). The syntax of “ne”: some theoretical implications.

[Burzio, 1986] Burzio, L. (1986). Italian syntax: A government-binding approach, vol- ume 1. Springer Science & Business Media.

[IEC, 2018] IEC (2018). El pronom en. In Gram`atica Essencial de la Llengua Catalana.

[McNally and Fontana, 1994] McNally, L. and Fontana, J. (1994). Unaccusativity and the distribution of bare plurals in spanish and catalan. In The 68th Annual LSA Meeting, New Orleans.

23.05.2023 Jozina Vander Klok (with Hiromi Nomoto and David Moeljadi)

Strong and weak necessity modality in Indonesian

This paper investigates the semantics of Indonesian (Austronesian) modals harus, mesti and their derivatives based on the Indonesian subcorpora of MALINDO Conc (Nomoto et al. 2018) as well as elicitation. We aim to answer the following two research questions.

[1] Previous descriptions suggest that harus and mesti ‘must’ express strong necessity whereas their affixed forms (se-)harusnya and (se-)mestinya express weak necessity, as in (1). Previous descriptions only include root modal flavour (i.e., non-epistemic) for these modals, such as deontic modality in (1) (e.g., Alwi 1992; Sneddon et al. 2010). Can these qualitative descriptions be validated quantitatively?

Preview: Mostly yes. We find that mesti and its derivatives are also compatible with epistemic modality, and -nya vs. se-...-nya derivatives do not seem to differ semantically. Moderate inter-annotator variability for modal force (necessity vs. weak necessity) was found with harus/mesti, which suggests that a simple description to the effect that these bare forms (exclusively) express strong necessity is not accurate.

[2] In the closely related language Javanese, no dedicated counterfactual (CF) morphology exists, necessity modal expressions lack gradability and the suffix -ne used in weak necessity modals is incompatible with possibility modals (Vander Klok & Hohaus 2020). Do these properties constitute a typological cluster?

Preview: No. While Indonesian has no CF morphology and -nya does not attach to possibility modals, we find that necessity and weak necessity modals are gradable ((se-){mesti/ harus}- nya are accepted in comparatives; allow for degree-modifiers), unlike Javanese. We adopt a gradable analysis of modality for Indonesian necessity modals, building on Portner & Rubinstein (2016) and also closely related Malay (Barnes 2019).

(1) a. Kamu {harus/mesti} tahu peraturan itu.

b. Kamu {seharusnya/semestinya} tahu

2 {a. must; b. should} know regulation DEM peraturan itu.

a. ‘You must know that regulation.’ / b. ‘You should know that regulation’ (Wijana 2022: 31)

References Alwi, H. 1992. Modalitas dalam bahasa Indonesia. Yogyakarta: Kanisius.

Barnes, K. 2019. A semantic analysis of modality in Malay. MA Thesis, U. of Manchester.

Nomoto, H., S. Akasegawa & A. Shiohara. 2018. Reclassification of the Leipzig Corpora Collection for Malay and Indonesian. NUSA 65.

Rubinstein, A. & P. Portner. 2016. Extreme and non-extreme deontic modals. In N. Charlow & M. Chrisman, Deontic Modality, 256-282. Oxford: OUP.

Sneddon, J. N., A. Adelaar, D. N. Djenar & M. Ewing. 2010. Indonesian reference grammar. Allen & Unwin.

Vander Klok, J. & V. Hohaus. 2020. Weak necessity without weak possibility: The composition of modal strength distinctions in Javanese. Semantics & Pragmatics 13.

Wijana, I D. P. 2022. Adverb in Indonesian. Ranah: Jurnal Kajian Bahasa 11.

30.05.2023 Ryan Bochnak (UBC)

The ingredients of alternative questions: The view from Wá∙šiw

An alternative question (AltQ) offers two (or more) options, among which the addressee is asked to choose at most one. Two big questions on the internal composition of AltQs cross-linguistically are: (a) what surface strategies signal AltQs?; and (b) what is the meaning contribution of those surface strategies? This research contributes to these questions by taking a first look at AltQs in Wá∙šiw (isolate; USA). Specifically, I discuss the role of (i) the additive focus marker -saʔ ‘also/too’, which I argue distinguishes AltQs from polar questions (PolQs) in Washo; (ii) the connective -ŋa, which is underspecified between a disjunction and contrastive conjunction (‘but’) use; and (iii) the question particle -hé:š. The goal is to provide an analysis for each of these elements that accounts for their meaning and distribution outside of AltQs, and how they combine to derive AltQ semantics.

06.06.2023 Jana Bajorat

Ergative Marking in Ika - corpus evidence

In Ika, an understudied Chibchan language spoken by approx. 25,700 peo- ple (number from 2018, DANE 2021) in Colombia, ergative case marking is op- tional (see, e.g., McGregor, 2010; Riesberg, 2018): In basic canonical clauses, subjects and objects are unmarked (SOV-order). Only 3rd person transitive subjects can be case marked under certain circumstances with the ergative marker =se". Previous research has attributed multifaceted functions to this marker: Levinsohn & Tracy (1977: 7-8) describe the marker as an indicator of ‘change of [thematic] role’, and also Frank (1985) explains its presence through discourse-pragmatic factors such as marking of subjects that are less given than the object, and ‘reintroduced’ or ‘unexpected’ agents. Yet, these characterisations are fuzzy and in need of updating to current terminology (see, e.g., Krifka & Musan, 2012). Other accounts ascribe the ergative marker a disambiguating function in transitive clauses: Landaburu (2000: 744) char- acterizes it as a ‘non-object’ marker in the context of topicalisation, and Frank (1990) claims that =se" identifies the subject in clauses with non-canonical argument order, i.e. SØV, OSV, SVO, OVS . These analyses, however, do not explain the occurrences of the ergative marker in canonical argument order. Own elicited and experimental data reveal that only a combination of both accounts offers a satisfactory explanation: first, the ergative marker is obliga- tory in non-canonical argument orders (SØV, OSV, SVO, OSV) in order to be able to disambiguate subject and object (cf. example 1). Second, the marker is optional in canonical SOV-order since argument order serves as primary mech- anism for argument distinction and makes morphological marking functionally redundant (cf. example 2 - both versions are grammatically correct and do not differ semantically from each other, although the version with the ergative marking is strongly preferred). Third, information structure, presumably focus or prominence marking (cf. Krifka & Musan, 2012; Heusinger & Schumacher, 2019), is the underlying trigger for the overt ergative marking in canonical argument order, but is, of course, also responsible for the changes in argument order that lead to the obligatory ergative marking.

(1) a. Pedru Juan pas-ʉn nug-in.


‘Pedro is hitting Juan.’

b.Juan Pedru pas-ʉn nug-in.


‘Juan is hitting Pedro.’

c. Juan Pedru=se" pas-ʉn


‘Pedro is hitting Juan.’

d. Pedru pas-ʉn nug-in.

Pedru hit-IPFV AUX.NONEGO-DECL ‘He/she/it is hitting Pedro.’

e. Pedru=se" pas-ʉn nug-in.


‘Pedro is hitting him/her/it.’

The present study will confirm the above observations (which are based on experimental and elicitation evidence) with corpus data. For this purpose, an Ika spoken language corpus was created. The corpus consists of 70 nar- ratives recorded mainly in 2022 with 10 different speakers (7 text types per speaker, including traditional story telling and descriptions of house construc- tions, paths, cooking, and comparison with other indigenous people; total cor- pus length: 5h 46 min 32 sec). The corpus is (at the moment partly) annotated for syntax, specifically for argument order, ergative marking and transitivity, and also for information structure. In this talk, I will present quantitative re- sults supporting the dependency of overt ergative marking on non-canonical argument order or focus/prominence.

Initial results confirm the above made assumptions for the ergative mark- ing distribution pattern, namely that ergative marking occurs obligatorily in non-canonical argument orders (SØV is the most frequent pattern), and that, in canonical argument orders, the occurrence of the ergative marker signals prominence or focus.


DANE. (2021). Resultados del censo nacional de población y vivienda 2018: Pueblos arhuaco, kankuamo, y wiwa. Retrieved 19.01.2023, from Mhttps:// www.dane.gov.co/files/investigaciones/boletines/grupos-etnicos/ presentacion-pueblos-arhuaco-kankuamo-wiwa-CNPV2018.pdf

Frank, P. S. (1985). A grammar of ika (Dissertation). University of Pennyslvinia.

Frank, P. S. (1990). Ika syntax (Vol. 1). Dallas, TX and [Arlington]: Summer Institute of Linguistics and University of Texas at Arlington.

Heusinger, K. v., & Schumacher, P. B. (2019). Discourse prominence: Defini- tion and application. Journal of Pragmatics, 154, 117–127. doi: M10.1016/ j.pragma.2019.07.025

Krifka, M., & Musan, R. (2012). Information structure: Overview and linguistic issues. In M. Krifka & R. Musan (Eds.), The expression of information structure (pp. 1–43). Berlin and Boston: Mouton de Gruyter.

Landaburu, J. (2000). La lengua ika. In González de Pérez, María Stella & Rodríguez de Montes, Maria Luisa (Eds.), Lenguas indígenas de colombia (pp. 733–748). Santafé de Bogotá: Instituto Caro y Cuervo.

Levinsohn, S. H., & Tracy, H. (1977). Participant reference in ika expository discourse. In R. E. Longacre & F. Woods (Eds.), Discourse grammar: studies in indigenous languages of colombia, panama, and ecuador (pp. 3–24). Dallas, Texas: Summer Institute of Linguistics and University of Texas.

McGregor, W. B. (2010). Optional ergative case marking systems in a typological-semiotic perspective. Lingua, 120(7), 1610–1636. doi: M10 .1016/j.lingua.2009.05.010

Riesberg, S. (2018). Optional ergative, agentivity and discourse prominence – evidence from yali (trans-new guinea). Linguistic Typology, 22(1), 17–50. doi: M10.1515/lingty-2018-0002

13.06.2023 Jakob Maché

A Lexicalist Analysis towards Resultative Verb Constructions in Benue-Kwa Languages

Please note: The talk will start 15 minutes later at 4:30pm!

This paper discusses the event composition in resultative serial verb constructions (RSVC) in Benue-Kwa (Atlantic-Congo). As will be demonstrated, they exhibit an intriguing di- vision of labour among their verbal components; the means predicate V1 and the result predicate V2. As regards their syntax, it will be shown that V1 acts as the head of the RSVC. Turning to the aspectual properties of RSVC, the picture is more complex: Given that RSVC have the macro-event property, all the TAM values of V1 and V2 have to match. Unlike Germanic languages, Benue-Kwa resultative predicates involve two verbs and these can belong to different aspectual classes. Here it will be shown that V2 deter- mines the telicity value of the overall RSVC by introducing a specified goal argument. The syntactic contribution of V1 and the aspectual contribution of V1 can be most ef- ficiently modelled by means of a lexical rule in the Situation Semantics framework of Type Theory with Records using string types.


27.06.2023 Sten Vikner

'Override' reflexives in English and Danish
Sten Vikner, Aarhus Univ. (joint work with Sara Sørensen & Katrine Rosendal Ehlers, Aarhus U.)

It is somewhat surprising that English allows (1a,b) (where underlining indicates coreference):

(1)E a.Peter's behaviour only hurts

b.Peter doesn't realise that such behaviour only hurts himself.

even though himself does not refer to the subject of the same clause (which is Peter's behaviour and such behaviour respectively). This is surprising because far from all clauses allow himself to refer to something else than the subject of the same clause:

(2)Ea.*Peter's sister only criticised

b.*Peter does not realise that Joan only criticised himself.

This is why himself in (1a,b) is often called an 'override reflexive' or an 'untriggered reflexive'.

Our analysis is that 'override' reflexives are the result of the combination of the non- reflexive pronoun him with the intensifier himself, and that this combination is subsequently 'shortened' from him himself to himself.

This analysis is also completely compatible with the data from Danish, where the combination of the corresponding pronoun ham with the corresponding intensifier selv is not subject to 'shortening', and the result is therefore ham selv:

(3) D a. a. Peters opførsel skader bare ham selv. ≈ (1

b. Peter indser slet ikke at sådan en opførsel bare skader ham selv. ≈ (1

This talk will try to show how the fact that Danish has two versions of ham selv and that English has two versions of himself fits into the general reflexive systems of the two languages. The analyses will be held up against data from three large and publically accessible corpora (Danish: KorpusDK; English: BNC and COCA).


04.07.2023 Federico José Martín Padrón

Formalized Lexical-Constructional Grammar and unification-based grammar formalisms

Formalized Lexical-Constructional Grammar (FL-CxG; Cortés-Rodríguez, 2021; Cortés-Rodríguez and Díaz-Galán, in press) is a novel theory that aims at being a valid framework for linguistic description as well as at being computationally implemented. For these purposes, FL-CxG provides a formal(ized) version of the Lexical Constructional Model (LCM; Ruiz de Mendoza and Mairal Usón, 2008, 2011; Ruiz de Mendoza & Galera, 2014) through the use of constraint-based metagrammatical descriptions in Typed Feature Structures with the format of Attribute-Value Matrixes. The LCM framework, which draws on both functionalist and cognitivist theories, mostly focuses on explaining meaning creation by arranging constructions in a 4-tier classification, which, in turn, are regulated by two cognitive mechanisms, namely, inferential cueing and subsumption. In order to provide a formalized account of language description, FL-CxG also incorporates the syntactic theory posited by Role and Reference Grammar (Van Valin & LaPolla, 1997; Van Valin, 2005), constituting most of the signature of our model. These characteristics show that FL-CxG is aligned with the grammars that populate the so-called Constructionist Space, as another member of the group of Formal Grammars (in the sense given by Sag, Boas, and Kay, 2012, p. 2), together with Sign-Based Construction Grammar or Embodied Construction Grammar, among others. Therefore, the objective of this talk is to present an overview of the main theoretical tenets of FL-CxG: its lexical, semantic, and syntactic modules, and the unification-based grammar formalisms that are used in order to achieve computational feasibility.

Key words: Lexical-Constructional Model, Role and Reference Grammar, Formal Grammar, unification-based grammar formalisms


Cortés-Rodríguez, F. J. (2021). La Gramática Formalizada Léxico-Construccional: aspectos generales. In Herrera Santana, J., & Díaz-Galán, A. (eds.); Aportaciones al estudio de las lenguas: perspectivas teóricas y aplicadas. Berlin: Peter Lang.

Cortés-Rodríguez, F. J., & Díaz-Galán, A. (in press). The Lexical Constructional Model Meets Syntax: Guidelines of the Formalized Lexical-Constructional Grammar (FL_CxG). Revista de Lingüística y Lenguas Aplicadas.

Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J., & Mairal Usón, R. (2008). Levels of description and constraining factors in meaning construction: An introduction to the Lexical Constructional Model. Folia Lingüística, 42 (2), 355-400.

Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J., & Mairal Usón, R. (2011). Constraints on syntactic alternation: lexical- constructional subsumption in the Lexical-Constructional Model. In P. Guerrero (Ed.), Morphosyntactic Alternations in English. Functional and Cognitive Perspectives (pp. 62-82). Sheffield: Equinox.

Sag, I.A., Boas, H. C. & Kay, P. (2012). Introducing Sign-Based Construction Grammar. In C. Hans, H.C. Boas & I. A. Sag (Eds.), Sign-Based Construction Grammar (pp. 1-30). Stanford: CSLI Publications.

Van Valin, R. (2005). Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Van Valin, R., & LaPolla, R. (1997). Syntax. Structure, meaning and function. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

11.07.2023 Malka Rappaport Hovav

Hebrew In Transit – the shift from a V-framed to an S-framed profile

Biblical Hebrew can be shown to have a profile of a V-framed language, while Modern Hebrew can be shown to be developing properties typically associated with S-framed languages. I will document the changes in the lexicalization profile of the language through an examination of Biblical Hebrew and current Modern Hebrew, along with some preliminary results about what has come to be called Emergent Hebrew. The data from Hebrew will be brought to bear on the theoretical question of what underlying grammatical mechanism, if any, is at the heart of the typological divide. I will support the position that there is an underlying grammatical, not only lexical, distinction between the two types of languages, but I will suggest that it is a lexical change which triggered the grammatical change. In the case of Hebrew, the change does not seem to have resulted from internal morphological re-analysis, as was the case for the shift in the opposite direction from S-framed Latin to V-framed Romance languages. Rather, the change appears to have been triggered by language contact. Nonetheless, the change has been a staggered one, with unselected object resultatives appearing many decades after the initial appearance of S-framed structures. I will discuss the challenges for current theories presented by this staggered shift.

18.07.2023 Nico Lehmann / Pauline Reiß

The formal and functional distribution of right-peripheral arguments in German and Persian across registers / Investigation of genitive and prepositional attributes as a register phenomenon of German - a corpus study and implementation in HPSG.

The formal and functional distribution of right-peripheral arguments in German and Persian across registers

Using spoken language corpora of German (29,548 sentences – FOLK: Deppermann et al. 2020) and Persian (39,692 sentences – SGS corpus: Adli 2016), we analysed the syntactic arguments, i. e. subjects and direct objects, that follow the verb- final position for their formal and discourse functional properties previously reported as relevant (see in particular Herring 1994; Birner and Ward 1998; Ott and de Vries 2016; Averintseva-Klisch 2019), including the presence of a co-referential / referen- tially different element in the core clause, its syntactic category (nominal, pronoun), and informational-structural status (topic, focus, givenness). From these we derived three main comparable discourse functions occurring in both languages: discourse management, i. e. reassuring common ground, emphasis, i. e. highlighting an element, and modification, i. e. adding additional / contrasting information. We focus on the first function. With the application of formal syntactic criteria such as the felicity of a co-occurring co-referential pronoun etc., we categorized the degree of integration of the RPAs in each language. Classifying the conversations in both corpora by situational characteristics and indicators such as honorific use allowed us to compare the rates of the discourse functions between formal and informal spoken registers.

Investigation of genitive and prepositional attributes as a register phenomenon of German - a corpus study and implementation in HPSG

The term register variation encompasses situational and functional variation, in the sense that linguistic features such as grammatical constructions and lexical items are expected to be influenced by the situation in which they are uttered [1], [2], [3]. Previous research described registers to differ with respect to several points, always on a gradient scale. In this talk, I will mainly refer to the continuum between informal and formal register. The focus is on the situational use of genitive and prepositional attributes in German. Prenominal, postnominal genitives as well as von-PPS are contrasted, the analysis is performed separately for nouns and proper nouns. In 1 & 2, examples are given of the various possible constructions, some not ungrammatical but uncommon.

1. (a) ?Des Mannes Hose ist grün.

(b) Die Hose des Mannes ist grün.

(c) Die Hose vom Mann ist grün.

2. (a) Lauras Hose ist grün.

(b) ?Die Hose der Laura ist grün.

(c) Die Hose von Laura ist grün.

Previous research suggests that the use of genitive and prepositional attributes could be considered a register phenomenon. Generally, genitives are assumed to be marked as more formal and the von-PP construction as more informal. The main goal of the master thesis is to conduct a corpus study to infer the probability of occurrence of these constructions in a register. The DECOW corpus will be utilized for this purpose. Following previous approaches on modeling register variation into an HPSG-framework [4], [5], [6], [7], Bayesian statistics will be employed [5] to develop a formal analysis within this framework [8], [9].


1. Douglas Biber. Ananalytical framework for register studies. Sociolinguistic perspectives on register, page 31–56, 1994.

2. M.A.K. Halliday and Ruqaiya Hasan. Cohesion in English. Longman, London, 1976.

3. Michael Alexander Kirkwood Halliday. Language as social semiotic: The social interpre- tation of language and meaning, volume 42. Edward Arnold London, 1978.

4. Hiwa Asadpour, Shene Hassan, and Manfred Sailer. Non-wh relatives in english and kurdish: Constraints on grammar and use. In Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG 2022), Nagoya University & Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics. Standford, CA: CSLI Publications.[To appear], 2022.

5. Antonio Machicao y Priemer, Stefan Müller, Roland Schäfer, and Felix Bildhauer. Towards a treatment of register phenomena in hpsg. In Proceedings of the 29th Interna- tional Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Online (Nagoya/Tokyo), July 29–31, 2022, pages 86–101. Universitätsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main, 2022.

6. Graham Wilcock. Lexicalization of context. Lexical and Constructional Aspects of Linguistic Explanation, pages 373–387, 1999.

7. Emily M Bender. Socially meaningful syntactic variation in sign-based grammar. English Language & Linguistics, 11(2):347–381, 2007.

8. Carl Pollard and Ivan A Sag. Head-driven phrase structure grammar. University of Chicago Press, 1994.

9. Georgia M Green. The structure of context: The representation of pragmatic restricti- ons in hpsg. In Proceedings of the 5th annual meeting of the Formal Linguistics Society of the Midwest, Studies in the Linguistic Sciences, volume 24, pages 215–232, 1996.

Wintersemester 2022/2023

18.10.2022 Organisation



08.11.2022 Georg Höhn

Crosslinguistic variation in quantifier unagreement - a Mediterranean perspective

Unagreement describes configurations of (apparently) third person noun phrases cross- referenced by non-third person verbal agreement. This is available in some null subject languages like Greek, Spanish or Bulgarian, but not in others like Italian (Ackema & Neeleman 2018; Choi 2014; Höhn 2016). Quantified noun phrases can also occur in unagreement configurations (1).

(1) a. Spanish (Ackema & Neeleman 2013: 317, (52b)) Algunos pacientes hemos/habéis llamado a la doctora. some students have.1PL/2PL called to the.F doctor.F "Some (of us/you) patients have called the doctor."

b. Bulgarian Njakoi zheni sme rabotili po 24 chasa... some women AUX.1PL worked for 24 hours "Some (of us) women have worked for 24 hours."

c. Greek Kapjes jinekes exume dhulepsi ja 24 ores... some women have.1PL worked for 24 hours "Some (of us) women have worked for 24 hours."

There are - at least - two areas of crosslinguistic variation concerning quantifier unagreement. The presentation focuses on new data suggesting a contrast between Bulgarian and Greek concerning whether the speaker needs to be included in the restrictor set in quantificational unagreement, i.e. whether the speaker needs to have worked for 24 hours to felicitously utter (1bc).

Time permitting, I also provide a new spin on a second, probably unrelated dimension of crosslinguistic variation in quantificational unagreement first noted in Höhn (2016). Greek seems to rule out negative quantifiers like and strongly restrict universal distributive quantifiers (kathe "each/every") in quantificational unagreement, while Spanish is more permissive. While I have no theoretical explanation for the variation, this contrast may distinguish an "eastern" and "western" Mediterranean pattern of unagreement and I offer some thoughts on the possible significance of this distribution for the investigation of unagreement in Romance and Greek varieties of Calabria (southern Italy).

15.11.2022 SFB Retreat

22.11.2022 Jozina Vander Klok

Voice and argument realization of applicatives in Javanese discourse

I will be presenting work-in-progress that investigates the argument realization of applicatives across voice type in Javanese discourse, based on annotated conversational data. First, I will examine the usage of voice type across applicatives. I show that applicatives in Javanese discourse are 70-80% in Patient Voice or passive, wherein the applied argument is the subject, following a pattern found in narratives in Madurese, a related Austronesian language (Davies 2005). The use of an Indonesian applicative within this discourse (given the multilingual context), however, shows the opposite pattern, whereby 70% is Actor Voice. Second, I examine the usage of null vs. overt subjects, wherein null subjects are the normal grammatical device in Javanese (cf. Ewing 2014). I look at what factors support overt subjects.


06.12.2022 Chenyuan Deng

Plural marking in a classifier language: the plural morpheme -men in Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese has been known as a language without much inflectional morphology. In particular, as a language with a rich system of numeral classifiers, as shown in the examples (1) below, plural morphology and classifiers are considered to have complementary distribution (see e.g., Greenberg 1972: 17; Borer 2005: 92; Wiltschko 2021: 185), meaning noun phrases are not inflected for number. However, the element -men in (2), considered by many (Cheng & Sybesma, 1999; Zhang, 2008; Yang, 2015, among others) to be a non-canonical plural morpheme on bare nouns in Mandarin Chinese, has been a topic of linguistic research since Chao (1968). This study engages in the ongoing discussion regarding the additive (plural) and associative (collective) readings of -men (3), arguing that -men is actually a true ordinary plural morpheme.

(1) a.yi ge xuesheng zai tiaowu one cl student prog dance ‘A student is dancing.’

b. liang ge xuesheng zai tiaowu two cl student prog dance ‘Two students are dancing.’

(2) xuesheng-men zai tiaowu student-men prog dance ‘The students are dancing.’

(3) Xiaoqiang-men shenme-shihou lai Xiaoqiang-men when come Plural: ‘When will Xiaoqiang and the other people with the same characteristics as Xiaoqiang come?’ Associative: ‘When will Xiaoqiang and the people related to him come?’

According to Iljic (1994) and Li (1999), doubts about -men as a plural morpheme are mainly based on the following considerations:

• Non-cooccurrence of a numeral + classifier expression and -men

• Definiteness of noun phrases marked by -men

• Associative reading of N-men

Regarding the first point, the compatibility of numeral classifiers and -men is not completely excluded. In addition to unspecific numeral and group classifiers (Jiang, 2017: 6), when the numeral is large enough, a bare noun – before it is combined with a classifier phrase – is potentially marked by -men. Secondly, -men does not affect the definiteness of a noun phrase. Rather, the (in-)definiteness of a noun phrase marked by -men is inherited from the original bare noun. Lastly, my data – a corpus study and interviews with ten native speakers – suggest that the associative reading of -men may not exist in modern Mandarin Chinese. Therefore, -men would be a true plural morpheme.

Based on the above, the relationship between -men and classifiers will be revisited. Despite the complexity of the compatibility of -men and classifiers, the syntactical structure of numeral-classifier-N-men is grammat- ical, as is the case in other languages (Dekany, 2012: 234). But it may lead to redundant plural information. Although their original functions may be different, -men and numeral + classifiers can both lexically mark nouns in the plural; when both of them directly collide (e.g., specific numeral and -men co-occur ), the accept- ability of this structure is compromised, which accounts for the fact that simple and straightforward classifier structures and -men are completely incompatible, whereas other classifier structures can accommodate -men. An HPSG analysis of bare nouns and -men in Mandarin Chinese is presented at the end of this paper.


Borer, Hagit. 2005. In name only, vol. 1. Oxford University Press on Demand. Chao, Yuen Ren. 1968. A grammar of spoken Chinese. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cheng, Lisa Lai-Shen & Rint Sybesma. 1999. Bare and not-so-bare nouns and the structure of NP. Linguistic inquiry 30(4). 509–542. Dekany, Eva Katalin. 2012. A profile of the hungarian dp: the interaction of lexicalization, agreement, and linearization with the functional sequence: PhD thesis. University of Tromso dissertation. https://munin. uit.no/handle/10037/4138. Greenberg, Joseph. 1972. Numeral classifiers and substantival number: Problems in the genesis of a linguistic type. Working Papers on Language Universals (9). 1–39. Iljic, Robert. 1994. Quantification in Mandarin Chinese: Two markers of plurality. Linguistics 32. 91–116. Jiang, Li Julie. 2017. Mandarin associative plural -men and NPs with -men. International Journal of Chinese Linguistics 4(2). 191–256. Li, Yen-Hui Audrey. 1999. Plurality in a classifier language. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 8(1). 75–99. Wiltschko, Martina. 2021. The syntax of number markers. In Patricia Cabredo Hofherr & Jenny Doetjes (eds.), The oxford handbook of grammatical number, 164–196. New York: Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780198795858.013.8. Yang, Yanhua. 2015. Fushu biaoji men he jihe biaoji men [The plural marker men and the collective marker men]. Yuyan jiaoxu yu yanjiu [Language Teaching and Linguistic Studies] 6. 78–88. Zhang, Xiaofei. 2008. Chinese-men and associative plurals. Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 28.

13.12.2022 Zahra Farrokh Nejad

A general outlook of Kurdish register data: focusing on Code-switching and post-predicate constituents

Ilami Kurdish (a dialect of southern Kurdish) which is spoken by large group of minority people in west of Iran is understudied regarding both code-switching and register phenomena. This lead me to investigate Kurdish-Persian code-switching patterns and their sociolinguistic functions across different registers of Kurdish to see how language users choose among possible alternations to fulfill register purposes and also how these choices contribute to the structure of registers in this language. I present empirical analyses of data recorded from 10 bilingual kurdish-Persian speakers from Ilam, Iran in 7 different registers. we will see that Investigating patterns and situational functions of code switching across different registers can give us more insight about both code-switching and register knowledge.

03.01.2022 Projektwoche

10.01.2023 Geoffrey Haig

Which domains of morphosyntax are sensitive to register variation? Thoughts from Iranian languages.

From its inception within sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics, research on register has been steadily gathering momentum, and is now incorporated into a broad array of linguistic disciplines, with increasingly sophisticated methodologies (Pescuma et al 2023). In this presentation I will present findings for register-related variation in Persian and other Iranian languages, from different domains of morphosyntax: pro-drop, word-order variation, and (time permitting), definiteness marking. These findings serve as backdrop to a more general discussion of the following two distinct, but related questions: What is the source of variants deployed in register variation (how does register-mediated variation arise?), and is it possible to draw any conclusions regarding the domains of morphosyntax most likely to be exploited for register signalling?

17.01.2023 Chenyuan Deng, Yanru Lu, Jian Ma / Jana Bajorat

How things become red in Mandarin Chinese? A case study of deadjectival CoS predicates / Syntactic ergativity in Ika (Chibchan, Colombia)?

Abstract I

Many languages systematically derive Change of State (CoS) predicates having property concept (PC, cf. Dixon 1982) roots from stative adjectives (Levin 1993, Koontz-Garboden 2005, Beavers et al. 2017, among others), e.g., red → redden in English. This study is aimed at figuring out how such deadjectival CoS verbs are derived in Mandarin Chinese and how they are used in sentences, using the red → redden counterparts as an example. In this talk, we will try to provide a formal account for the morphosyntax and semantics of deadjectival CoS predicates in Mandarin Chinese.

Chinese hong ‘red’, can be used as an adjective (1), a verb (2) and in resulatative verb constructions (3) (RVCs). The obligatory combination with the aspect marker -le transforms the adjective hong ‘red’ into a verb, while temporal modifiers differentiate two cases: inchoative vs. stative (cf. 2a and 2b). In resualtative construction V-hong-le, hong ‘red’ might lead to two kinds of heads in verb phrase due to Vtr. (3a) and Vintr. (3b), which is still a question yet to be solved in our study.

(1) adjective, stative

Zhangsanyan-jinghen hong

Zhangsan eye very red

‘Zhangsan’s eyes are very red.’

(2) verb

a. inchoative

san-tian hou, Zhangsan yan-jing hong-le

three-day later Zhangsan eye red-le

‘Three days later, Zhangsan’s eyes reddened.’

b. stative

Zhangsan yan-jing hong-le san-tian

Zhangsan’s eye red-le three-day

‘Zhangsan’s eyes were red for three days.’ or ‘Zhangsan’s eyes have been red for three days.’

(3) resultative

a. Zhangsanshua-(hong)-lemen

Zhangsanbrush-red-le door

‘Zhangsan brushed the door red.’

b. Zhangsanku-*(hong)-leyan-jing

Zhangsan cry-red-le eye

‘Zhangsan’s eyes reddened from crying.’

We propose an HPSG (Pollard & Sag 1994) analysis for Chinese deadjectival CoS predicates. In Chinese intransitive CoS verbs derive systematically from property concept adjectives (1–2), whereas (trans.) caused CoS is expressed mainly by RVCs (3) (Tham 2013). Therefore, we can analyze intransitive CoS verbs in Chinese as a lexical rule that convert adjectives to intransitive verbs. The treatment of German resultative predicates in Müller (2002) will be drawn to give an analysis for RVCs.


Beavers, J. et al. 2017. Two types of states: a cross-linguistic study of change-of-state verb roots. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 2. 38–1.

Dixon, R. M. 1982. Where have all the adjectives gone? and other essays in syntax and semantics (janua linguarum: series maior 107). The Hague: Mouton.

Koontz-Garboden, A. 2005. On the typology of state/change of state alternations. In G. Booij & J. van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of morphology 2005, 83–117. Dordrecht: Springer.

Levin, B. 1993. English verb classes and alternations: a preliminary investigation. University of Chicago press.

Müller, S. 2002. Complex predicates: Verbal complexes, resultative constructions, and particle verbs in German (Studies in Constraint-Based Lexicalism 13). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

Pollard, C. J. & I. A. Sag. 1994. Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Tham, S. W. 2013. Change of state verbs and result state adjectives in Mandarin Chinese. Journal of Linguistics 49(3). 647–701.

Abstract II

The Chibchan language Ika spoken in Colombia displays ergativity patterns (i.e. patterning of the intransitive subject together with the object to the exclusion of the transitive subject) on a morphological level: Although intransitive subject, transitive subject and object usually receive no case marking for their grammat- ical role, a transitive third person subject can (or even must) receive ergative case marking under certain circumstances, namely in non-canonical argument orders (SØV, OSV, SVO, OVS) or in order to mark focus. Furthermore, Ika has 13 intransitive verbs that follow the ergative alignment pattern (instead of nominative-accusative alignment pattern). These incidences of morphological ergativity lead to the question whether Ika not only displays ergativity via mor- phological case marking, but also syntactically via a range of phenomena (e.g., ban on A-bar extraction), as attested in other ergative languages (e.g., Dixon, 1994; Deal, 2015; Polinsky, 2017). This talk gives first insights into syntactic alignment in Ika and syntactic analyses of the ergative case (e.g., inherent vs. structural case assignment).


Deal, A. R. (2015). Ergativity. In T. Kiss & A. Alexiadou (Eds.), Syntax - theory and analysis (pp. 654–707). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Dixon, R. M. W. (1994). Ergativity (Vol. 69). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Polinsky, M. (2017). Syntactic ergativity. In M. Everaert & H. C. van Riemsdijk (Eds.), The wiley blackwell companion to syntax (pp. 1–37). Hoboken, NJ and Oxford: Wiley Blackwell. doi: M10.1002/9781118358733.wbsyncom051

24.01.2023 Manfred Sailer

Explicit or redundant: The social meaning of multiple exponence

Finegan & Biber 1994 argue that it is no accident that shorter forms (zero complementizer, contractions, etc) are more common in informal registers, whereas longer forms are more common in formal ones. Similarly, Eckert 2012 reports research showing that shorter variants of sociolinguistic variables can be considered iconic in the sense that the degree of care/effort put into their production corresponds to a perceived degree of education, care for details, power, etc.

I will discuss phenomena that question this clear social/register interpretation of shorter vs longer variants. A prominent classical example is the social meaning of rhoticity in English, where the prestige of the r-full (i.e. longer/explicit) or r-less (i.e. shorter/implicit) variants depend on time and region.

I my talk, I will look at cases of pleonastic marking or multiple exponence at the syntax-semantics interface in which there is a difference in the social meaning between the pleonastic and the implicit variant. The data will come from definiteness marking with inherently definite nouns (proper nouns and uniques), and from negation marking (negative concord).

The longer form is considered more standard ("explicit") in:

a) the use of the definite article with unique and kind nouns ("(the) mango is sweet", in some New Englishes, Sand 2004)

b) the use of the negative marker "ne" in French

The longer form is considered less standard ("redundant") in:

c) the use of definite articles with proper names for persons in German: "(die) Alex" `(the) Alex'

d) the use of various potential negation markers to express a single negation (i.e. negative concord) in English and German

e) the use of the negative adverb "pas" `not´ together with a neg-word ("rien" `nothing´) to express a single negation in French

I will model the data in a constraint-based formal rendering of basic concepts of third-wave variationist sociolinguistics (Eckert 2012): The social meaning attached to a variant will be treated as a conventionalized, expressive meaning. The overall "register" or "style" that is inferred from the use of particular variants will be considered a(n extra-grammatical) particularized conversational implicature (see Asadpour et al. 2022).

For the examples above it is plausible to attach the social meaning to the interpretive strategy rather than to individual words or constructions. Such an analysis seems to fall beyond the scope of previous approaches to register/social meaning in Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (Green 95, Paollilo 2000, Bender 2007, Machicao y Priemer et al. 2022), but can be modelled within the proposed architecture.

I hope to be able to show that multiple exponence can trigger a conventionalized iconic social or register inference. This inference can, however, be one of explicitness or one of redundancy. Considering it an instance of standard pragmatic inferences allows for a flexible yet precise modelling of the multi-variety competence of language users without stipulating any special mechanism for social/register meaning.

31.01.2023 Jieun Oh, Paola Fritz-Huechante

Korean causative change of state verbs: Scalar structure & non-culmination readings

Research (cf. Beavers & Lee 2020) has proposed that Korean causative change of state (CoS) predicates (e.g. kkayta ‘break’) are able to produce non-culminating (NC) readings in which the result state specified by the meaning of the semantic core of the verb fails to obtain. One of the factors that allow NC readings is the agentive properties of the external argument (Agent Control Hypothesis, cf. Demirdache & Martin 2015), i.e. the agenthood of the subject (cf. (1a)) licenses a NC interpretation whereas this is not necessarily the case with non-agentive subjects (cf. (1b), examples from Beavers & Lee 2020).


a. ku-ka changmun-ul kkay-ess-ta. haciman changmwun-i kkay-ci-ci anh-ass-ta.

he-nom window-acc break-pst-decl but window-nom break-pass-comp neg-pst-decl

(lit) ‘He broke the window. But the window was not broken.’


chentwung-i changmun-ul kkay-ess-ta. #haciman changmwun-i kkay-ci-ci anh-ass-ta.

thunder-nom window-acc break-pst-decl but window-nom break-pass-comp neg-pst-decl

(lit) ‘The thunder broke the window. But the window was not broken.’

In this talk, we expand the previous ideas and consider the type of scalar structure as well as the type of causative structure of the Korean predicates as possible factors that have an impact on NC readings. In terms of scalar structure, CoS verbs have been analyzed w.r.t. the degree (represented by a bound) at which the result state in the affected argument manifests the property of the semantic core of the verb (cf. Hay et al. 1999; Kennedy & McNally 2005; Kennedy & Levin 2008), classifying them as: (a) lower-bounded (e.g. to dirty), (b) upper-bounded (e.g. to dry), (c) open-bounded (e.g. lengthen), and (d) closed-bounded (e.g. fill) items. Focusing on (a) and (b), we show that in Korean, only upper-bounded causative CoS predicates in the presence of an agent are able to produce NC readings. Further, beside lexical causatives (cf. (1)), Korean causative CoS verbs are formed by: (a) adding a causative morpheme (-i or its allomorphs) to the stem of the verb building morphological causative predicates, and (b) adding the structure -key hata ‘make’ to the stem of the verb building periphrastic causative predicates (cf. Lee 2015). We observe that periphrastic causative predicates allow NC readings independent of the type of scalar structure the verb possesses, con- trasting from morphological causative predicates in which the scalar structure is rele- vant. We investigate the impact and interaction of the factors subject type (agent vs. causer), scalar structure (lower vs. upper), and causative structure (morphological vs. periphrastic) in an experimental design and formalize these results on HPSG by means of lexical rules and type hierarchy of the subject. The analysis in HPSG of Korean causative constructions is built on German resultative constructions (cf. Müller 2018).


Beavers, John & Juwon Lee. 2020. Intentionality, scalar change, and non-culmination in Korean caused change-of-state predicates. Linguistics 58(5). 1233–1283. DOI:https: //doi.org/10.1515/ling-2020-0007.

Demirdache, Hamida & Fabienne Martin. 2015. Agent control over non-culminating events. In Elisa Barrajón, José Luis Cifuentes & Susana Rodríguez (eds.), Verb classes and aspect, 185–217. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. doi:10.1075/ivitra.9.09dem.

Hay, Jennifer, Christopher Kennedy & Beth Levin. 1999. Scale structure underlies telic- ity in degree achievements. In Tanya Matthews & Devon Strolovitch (eds.), Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theories (salt), 127–144. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications. https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v9i0.2833.

Kennedy, Christopher & Beth Levin. 2008. Measure of change: The adjectival core of degree achievements. In Louise McNally & Christopher Kennedy (eds.), Adjectives and adverbs: Syntax, semantics and discourse, 156–182. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kennedy, Christopher & Louise McNally. 2005. Scale structure, degree modification, and the semantics of gradable predicates. Language 81(2). 345–381.

Lee, Juwon. 2015. An intention-based account of accomplishments in Korean: University of Texas at Austin Dissertation. http://hdl.handle.net/2152/33404.

Müller, Stefan. 2018. A lexicalist account of argument structure: Template"=based phrasal LFG approaches and a lexical HPSG alternative (Conceptual Foundations of Language Science 2). Berlin: Language Science Press. doi:10.5281/zenodo.1441351. http://langsci-press.org/catalog/book/163.

07.02.2023 Giuseppe Varaschin, Antonio Machicao y Priemer

Agreement in Brazilian Portuguese: A case of Register Variation

The goal of this talk is to explain the properties of the first-person plural pronoun a gente in Brazilian Por- tuguese (cf. (1)). We argue that previous approaches, which assume an impoverished theory of features, make wrong predictions about how different types of agreement with a gente work in different environments, for instance in cases of subject–verb or binding mismatches (cf. Menuzzi 2000; Taylor 2009; Costa and Pereira 2013; Marcotulio et al. 2013).

(1) A gente toca jazz.

a gente play.3sg jazz

‘The people play jazz.’ or ‘We play jazz.’

In order to remedy these defects, we propose an HPSG account, which allows semantic, syntactic and pragmatic features to be simultaneously represented and constrained. Particularly important is the distinction between index agreement and concord (Kathol 1999; Wechsler and Zlatić 2003). We propose that a gente has 1.pl value for the former and a 3.sg value for the latter and that both features can be targeted by agreement constraints, yielding local agreement mismatches. Apparent counter examples follow from a theory of register (Wilcock 1999; Paolillo 2000; Bender 2007; Asadpour et al. 2022; Machicao y Priemer et al. 2022). We propose a model that integrates register-driven variation into the grammatical component associating probabilistic situational factors, that are external to the grammatical component, with social meanings that can be attached to different types of constraints within the grammar, e.g. to words, lexical rules, syntactic constraints (Varaschin and Machicao y Priemer 2022).


Asadpour, Hiwa, Shene Hassan, and Manfred Sailer (2022). Non-wh rel- atives in English and Kurdish: Constraints on grammar and use. In Stefan Müller (Ed.), Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG 2022), Nagoya Univer- sity & Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics. Standford, CA: CSLI Publications. [To appear].

Bender, Emily M. (2007). Socially meaningful syntactic variation in sign- based grammar. English Language and Linguistics 11(2), 347–381.

Costa, João and Sandra Pereira (2013). A gente: Pronominal status and agreement revisited. The Linguistic Review 30(2), 161–184.

Kathol, Andreas (1999). Agreement and the syntax-morphology inter- face in HPSG. In Robert Levine and Georgia M. Green (Eds.), Studies in contemporary phrase structure grammar, pp. 223–274. Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press.

Machicao y Priemer, Antonio, Stefan Müller, Roland Schäfer, and Fe- lix Bildhauer (2022). Towards a treatment of register phenomena in HPSG. In Stefan Müller (Ed.), Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG 2022), Nagoya University & Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics. Standford, CA: CSLI Publications. [To appear].

Marcotulio, Leonardo, Juliana Vianna, and Célia Lopes (2013). Agree- ment patterns with a gente in Portuguese. Journal of Portuguese Lin- guistics 12(2).

Menuzzi, Sérgio (2000). First person plural anaphora in Brazilian Por- tuguese: Chains and constraint interaction in binding. In João Costa (Ed.), Portuguese syntax, pp. 191–240. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Paolillo, John C. (2000). Formalizing formality: An analysis of register variation in Sinhala. Journal of Linguistics 36(2), 215–259.

Taylor, Michael (2009). On the pronominal status of Brazilian Portuguese a gente. NYU Working Papers in Linguistics 2, 1–36.

Varaschin, Giuseppe and Antonio Machicao y Priemer (2022). Feature compatibility across levels: Agreement and register in the case of Brazilian Portuguese a gente. [In preparation].

Wechsler, Stephen and Larisa Zlatić (2003). The Many Faces of Agreement. Stanford Monographs in Linguistics. Stanford: Center for the Study of Language and Information.

Wilcock, Graham (1999). Lexicalization of context. In Gert Webelhuth, Jean-Pierre Koenig, and Andreas Kathol (Eds.), Lexical and Construc- tional Aspects of Linguistic Explanation, pp. 373–387. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

14.02.2023 Jian Ma

Agentivity and Passive in Mandarin Chinese An empirical investigation of agentivity in passivisation

Agentivity plays a core role in human cognition and impacts the construction of language structures and processing (cf. Bornkessel-Schlesewsky & Schlesewsky 2014). However, the debates on the notion and its closely related semantic roles never stop. By one influential notion, semantic roles are generalised into two proto-roles, Proto-Agent and Proto-Patient, composed by features of verb meaning (Dowty 1991). With this quantitative approach to agentivity, or Agent Prototypicality, it is also assumed that verbs with more agentive features are more compatible in linguistic constructions, e.g., in passive (cf. Primus 1999, DeLancey 1984).

This study investigates the quantitative agentivity in Mandarin Chinese passivisation, bei-passive as an example. An acceptability judgment test was designed and implemented to figure out whether verbs with different numbers of agentive features differ according to their quantitative agentivity. The results of exper- iments reject a prediction based on Agent Prototypicality, but support a scalised affectedness (Beavers 2011) approach to passivisation.

Since bei-passive is assumed to be normally used in a negative coloring, cf. (1) and (2), a corpus study for Semantic Prosody (Sinclair 1991, Xiao & McEnery 2006) in verbal strong collocates of bei was additionally completed prior to the acceptability judgment test. The data show a negative or neutral prosodic strength in most collocates. Strong collocates and Semantic Prosody were both controlled in the acceptability judgment test.

(1) Shu zai zhe-tiao jie bei shoumai

book in this-CL street BEI sell

‘Books are sold in this street.’

(less acceptable)

(2) Daoban-shu zai zhe-tiao jie bei shoumai

pirated-book in this-CL street BEI sell

‘Pirated books are sold in this street.’

(more acceptable)

In this talk, I will present the results of the corpus study and acceptability test and open a discussion about other findings from this study.


Beavers, J. 2011. On affectedness. Natural language & linguistic theory 29. 335–370.

Bornkessel-Schlesewsky, I. & M. Schlesewsky. 2014. Competition in argument interpretation: evidence from the neurobiology of language. Competing motivations in grammar and usage. 107–126.

DeLancey, S. 1984. Notes on agentivity and causation. Studies in Language. International Journal sponsored by the Foundation “Foundations of Language” 8(2). 181–213.

Dowty, D. 1991. Thematic proto-roles and argument selection. language 67(3). 547–619.

Primus, B. 1999. Cases and thematic roles ergative, accusative and active. Niemeyer Verlag.

Sinclair, J. 1991. Corpus, concordance, collocation. Oxford University Press, USA.

Xiao, R. & T. McEnery. 2006. Collocation, semantic prosody, and near synonymy: a cross-linguistic perspective.Applied linguistics 27(1). 103–129.

Sommersemester 2022
Dienstags, 16:15-17:45
BA und Mas­ter Lin­gu­is­tik


19.04.2022 Organisation

26.04.2022 Henrik Discher, HU

Scale structure and negation: Inferences of gradable adjectives in German

From a semantic perspective, negation cancels the truth value of a proposition p such that not p is false if p is true. In terms of gradable adjectives (e.g., large) which refer to degrees on socalled measurement scales, the negated adjective entails the scale range that is not specified by the non-negated term. Thus, not large points to a degree below the standard of large and can be paraphrased as less than large. From a pragmatic perspective, the negation of gradable adjectives is more complicated and gives rise to several pragmatic inferences. For example, not large can implicate its antonym small. Various experimental studies (e.g., van Tiel et al., 2016; Gotzner et al., 2018; Tessler & Franke, 2018) investigate these pragmatic inferences. Except for a few acquisition experiments with children (Weicker, 2019; Weicker & Schulz, 2020), it does not exist evidence of how gradable adjectives are interpreted in German. In this talk, I will contribute empirical data from two experiments on absolute and relative adjectives translating a recent study by Alexandropoulou and Gotzner (submitted) into German that suggest similar pragmatic inferences compared to English. However, German participants show a different interpretation of negated relative adjectives than English (English data provided by Alexandropoulou & Gotzner, submitted). This cross-linguistic difference results from distinct lexical representations of gradable adjectives between German and English.

03.05.2022 Woche der Arbeit

10.05.2022 Lorenz Geiger, Universität Tübingen

Towards a pragmatic account of doing so

This talk considers pragmatic factors in the resolution of do so-anaphora. While extensive work has been done on the syntactic and semantic factors related to do so anaphora and their antecedents, this talk aims to make use of pragmatic and discoursebased theories. I will assume a proform analysis of do so and suppose that the same pragmatical systems are at work as in other forms of predicate/event anaphora. Here, I follow the hypothesis:

H1 Salience governs the resolution of do so anaphora, while rhetorical relations play a role in the accessibility of antecedents

I pursue the following research questions: (i) How do salience (cf. Roberts 2010; Roberts 2017) and rhetorical relations (cf. Asher and Lascarides 2003; Hunter and Asher 2016) restrict the anaphoric resolution of do so? (ii) What is the role of referential ambiguity in the resolution of do so? and (iii) How exactly do do so constructions interact with the Common Ground (cf. Stalnaker 1978; Stalnaker 2014)?

Data from a parallel corpus study from the EUROPARL corpus (Koehn et al. 2005) is presented that show disagreement on the antecedent trigger size and serve as the basis to discuss referential ambiguity. An example for disagreement and potential ambiguity is given in (1), where different colors represent differing annotations:

(1) /en/ep-02-03-13.xml

1654 b’. I abstained on the amendments and voted against the final report because I am deeply concerned about the lack of balance within this report. Implicit in this report are western cultural values which make a presumption against the rights of women in Islam . I would question the wisdom of this parliament in producing this report and in doing so pass judgement on other cultures and their values . I believe this report was based on an external view and with very narrow and limited experience of Islamic lifestyle.

Here the sentence following in doing so may temporarily be construed as either an elaboration of question . . . or of producing . . . .

Following from the corpus data, a closer inspection of referential ambiguity is warranted. In order to accomplish this, an experiment is planned. Several experiments are taken from Frazier and Clifton (2005), which originally investigate Verb-PhraseEllipsis, and adapted for do so. The specific experiments (experiment 4 and 6) that are to be adapted are discussed with a focus on the experimental items.


24.05.2022 Qi Hao, Peking University

Classifiers and Mass-Count Distinction

The talk will mainly focus on three questions: 1. What is a classifier, and how does it combine with a noun syntactically and semantically? 2. Are classifiers a grammatical mechanism for mass-count distinction in Chinese? 3. What is the difference between a classifier language like Chinese and a non-classifier language like English? For the first question, we propose that classifiers are measuring units heading a Measure Phrase, which further combines with a noun through the projection of Mon(otonic)P based on the framework of Schwarzschild (2006). That is to say, the classifier-construction is left-branching, and Chinese numerals are proper names for numbers (type e, see also Sudo (2016) for Japanese numerals) which serve as arguments for classifiers, but not cardinal predicates (type et) as commonly proposed. As for the M-C distinction, we distinguish between grammatical M-C (based on [±atom] for nominal structure) and ontological M-C (based on stuff-object contrast for nominal semantics) firstly (see also Rothstein 2010). Then we propose that classifiers are not makers for countability on the level of grammatical M-C as usually believed. Instead, Chinese is a language that only has ontological M-C. We will provide both a proof by contradiction and some positive evidence to show this point. For the last question, we will make a radical hypothesis that we can never find grammatical M-C in an obligatory classifier language. This proposal is supported by Sanches-Greenberg-Slobin Generalization (SGSG, see Greenberg 1972, Sanches & Slobin 1973) empirically, and we will provide a theoretical account based on the above points — numerals are solely singular terms in an obligatory classifier language, so Measure Phrase headed by classifier in such languages does not have any number presupposition for nominals.

31.05.2022 Pui Yee Yuen

The Use of “Zing” Causative in Cantonese

Periphrastic causative, or syntactic causative is not a strange research topic. Previous studies worked on investigating the difference between lexical causative and periphrastic causative in a language or the difference between two periphrastic causative alternation. Proposals includes intentionality, causal necessity and sufficiency, and direct causation. In Cantonese, an isolating language, periphrastic causative is very common. In this study I focus on examining the two periphrastic causative forms, namely zing causative and ling causative. Conducting a preliminary search in corpora and a context judgement text to native speakers, I argue that zing causative is for direct causation under the definition of Wolff (2003) and therefore its inability to combine with internal caused change of state (ICCOS) verbs. If this hypothesis holds, under the Marked Meaning Principle proposed by Rett (2015) which states that marked forms are associated with marked meaning, difference between lexical causative and zing causative (the more marked form), both for direct causation, should be exist. I argue that the latter one denotes unwanted events. And this “unwantedness” may sometimes overrides the effect of direct or indirect causation. The interim result revealed that although the unwantedness is clearly spotted, the picture of ‘zing’ causative is more complicated than pure directness and indirectness, but a flexible concept on a continuum between the two extremes of direct and indirect causation, which is closer to the sociative causative developed by Shibatani and Chung (2002).

07.06.2022 Frank Richter, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Recursive adjectival modification in (CL)LRS

The focus of the talk is on the techniques of combinatorial semantics in HPSG which inform the specification of the semantics of lexical entries and the principles of phrasal semantic combinatorics. On a conceptual level, the present type-theoretic analysis of adverbial modification owes much to Kasper's (1997) corresponding proposals in a traditional HPSG architecture. The analysis is phrased in such a way that it receives a straightforward implementation in the Constraint Language for Lexical Resource Semantics (CLLRS), which is available as a subsystem of the TRALE grammar implementation platform. Time permitting, we will investigate the connection between theory and computational practice by inspecting the source code of an implemented grammar fragment.

14.06.2022 Chenyuan Deng

An HPSG approach for Chinese numeral classifiers

In this talk, I first focus on the non-independent nature of classifiers, i.e., classifiers must first be combined with Num, Dem, or an NP to participate in the syntactic context. Furthermore, the big debate on the branching issue of classifier phrases will be taken into consideration, namely, the left [[Num CL] NP] (Krifka, 1995) or right [Num [CL NP]] (Chierchia, 1998) branching of the structure. It will be proposed that the presence of classifiers in Mandarin Chinese is independent of the mass/count-distinction. (Bale & Coon, 2014) A left-branching structure is chosen for syntactic, phonological, cross-linguistic and diachronic evidence. At the end of the talk, I will provide an HPSG analysis, in which classifiers are the subclass of nouns. They take Num as their specifiers and choose NP with empty spr via the subcat-list to stop the recursion.

21.06.2022 Jozina Vander Klok

The syntax of polar answers in Javanese: New evidence for distinct topic vs. subject

This paper describes and analyzes an unexpected order of Javanese tenseaspect-modal (TAM) markers observed in affirmative answers to polar questions. I propose that the unexpected order of Javanese TAM markers, which otherwise obey a strict relative ordering, is due to focus movement of a TAM marker, followed by optional topic movement of the subject. My analysis of this unexpected order provides insight into the syntax of information structure in Austronesian: not only does Javanese provide further cross-linguistic evidence supporting focus movement in answers following Holmberg (2016), but this syntactic configuration allows us to test for the interpretation of the grammatical subject, which has been argued to only be associated with a topic interpretation. I show that grammatical subjects can be non-topics in Javanese, contra previous analyses, bringing new diagnostics to this long-standing debate within Austronesian languages.

28.06.2022 Jieun Oh

Verbalkomplex im Koreanischen

Im Koreanischen ist der Verbalkomplex in den verschiedenen Phänomenen zu finden. Dabei werden diese Strukturen behandelt, in denen Hilfsverben auftreten und ein Präverb mit einem Funktionsverb kombiniert wird. Im Verbalkomplex ist der Kasus von Argumenten zu verändern, wie die in (1) gezeigt wird. In Yoo (2002) wurde das Kasusprinzip im Koreanischen vorgestellt und dieses Phänomen mit dem Wert ‘Agentivität’ erläutert. Im Vortrag wird vorgeschlagen, die Kasusalternation mit lexikalischer Regel zu beschreiben. Mit dem Präverb sind zwei Strukturen zu formulieren, u. z. einerseits wird das als Akkusativ realisierte Präverb mit dem sogenannten Funktionsverb kombiniert und zum anderen verhält sich das Präverb mit dem Funktionsverb wie ein Wort, wie der in (2) beschreiben. In Kim (2016) wurden die beiden als gleiche Strukturen angesehen. Aber meiner Meinung nach sollten sich die Strukturen unterscheiden. Dafür werden die beiden Sätze in der HPSG-Theorie diskutiert(vgl. Müller, 2002, 2013, 2021).

05.7.2022 Johanna Kimmerl (entfällt)

12.07.2022 David Müller

Um meine Masterarbeit überhaupt ANzumelden

In this talk I will present my ongoing research for my M.A. thesis. My goal is to answer the following question: What is the difference between (1a) and (1b)?

(1a) Ich fülle das Formular aus, um meine Masterarbeit anzumelden.

’I fill out the form, in order to register my MA-thesis.’

(1b) Ich fülle das Formular aus, um meine Masterarbeit überhaupt ANzumelden.

’I ’fill out the form, in order to ÜBERHAUPT register my MA-thesis.’

In order to answer this question, I will address the following questions:

  1. What is the semantics of um-zu
  2. Why should unstressed überhaupt be considered an NPI
  3. How is unstressed überhaupt as NPI licensed in um-zu clauses?
  4. What is the meaning contribution of überhaupt in cases like (1b)

19.07.2022 Jozina Vander Klok

When (not) to establish a new category: The case of perfect, 'already', and iamitives

In this paper, we analyze the semantic space of perfect and already, and challenge the necessity of assuming the existence of the newly proposed category of iamitives Olsson 2013), which is said to have a core meaning of change of state, similarly to already, with an additional resultative meaning making it also similar to the perfect aspect. We investigate several perfect/iamitive/already markers in Nafsan, Toqabaqita, Unua, Javanese, and Mandarin Chinese. We argue that characteristics that have been taken as evidence to necessarily posit iamitives can be explained by the interaction between the perfect/already and the following language-internal processes: (a) aspectual coercion; (b) paradigmatic blocking; and (c) compatibility in meaning. Thus, the categories of perfect and already may be sufficient to describe the range of meanings found in languages. This approach of identifying fine-grained meanings can also facilitate large-scale typological comparisons, as the distribution of these fine-grained meanings can be systematically tested for correlation with other language-internal processes.


Wintersemester 2020/21
Dienstags, 16:15-17:45
BA und Mas­ter Lin­gu­is­tik


03.11.2020 Organisation




01.12.2020 Elisabeth Steinbach-Eicke M.A., HU & FU Berlin

Metaphorical meaning extensions of perception verbs in Hieroglyphic Egyptian

Perception verbs are verbal expressions of the five sensory modalities of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. These verbs tend to expand their prototypical meanings into the semantic fields of emotion, cognition and social interaction via metaphorical meaning extensions. These mappings are deeply embodied and rooted in our sensorimotor experience. They show how the conceptual system of our mind is structured. Visual and auditory verbs are well documented in typological research, but the “proximal” modalities of touch, smell and taste are still rarely considered. My talk will give an overview of the multi-layered levels of meanings of these verbs in Hieroglyphic Egyptian using textual evidence from various text genres over a long time span (3rd–1st mill. BCE).


15.12.2020 Elodie Winckel, HU

French subject islands: empirical and formal approaches

Constraints on non-local dependencies are traditionally called “islands” and explained as syntactic constraints on transformation (Ross, 1967). Very soon, alternative accounts have been proposed. Some scholars, as Erteschik-Shir (1973) proposed that information structure may account for most “islands”. Others, as Kluender & Kutas (1993), proposed that processing factors are causing them. I investigate in this thesis the “subject island” constraint, first defined as a ban on extraction out of sentential subjects (Ross 1967), and later extended to all subjects (e.g. Subjacency in Chomsky 1973). This constraint has been discussed a lot, and many cross-linguistic counterexamples have been produced (see Stepanov 2007 for an overview). Nowadays, some linguists assume that subject island is a syntactic phenomenon and some linguists assume that an illusion of subject island is caused by either cognitive or pragmatic factors. French is a good example of this dichotomy: Godard (1988) worked on relative clauses introduced by dont (‘of which’) and showed that extraction out of NP subjects is acceptable; but Tellier (1990,1991) claimed that dont is a special case which does not violate Subjacency, and that other instances of extractions out of NP subjects would not be acceptable. Furthermore, French is interesting because it does not belong to the typical null-subject languages (so-called pro-drop languages) like other Romance languages, whereas Uriagereka (2012, ch. 2) thinks that all counter-examples to the subject island are in fact a special case of pro-drop. In this thesis, I look at several structures in French involving an extraction out of nominal, infinitival or sentential subjects.

I discuss the Focus-Background Conflict (FBC) constraint (Abeillé et al., 2020). Inspired by former proposals like Erteschik-Shir (1973) and Goldberg (2006), the FBC constraint states that a focussed element cannot be part of a backgrounded constituent, because this would result in a pragmatic contradiction. Subjects are prototypical subjects, therefore backgrounded. The major novelty of this proposal is that it predicts a difference between focalizations (interrogatives, clefts) and relative clauses for subject subextractions. I present eight corpus studies and show the distribution of extractions, as well as other factors such as verb type, restrictiveness and semantic roles. These corpus results confirm Godard (1988): relativizations out of the subject with dont are very frequent and even the most common usage of dont in written French. They also show evidences against Tellier (1991): other relative words than dont are also possible, with attested subextractions out of the subject with de qui (‘of who’), duquel (‘of which’) or avec qu- (‘with wh-’). But there is a clear distinction between subextractions out of subjects in relatives and in interrogatives. There is indeed not a single example of extraction out of the subject in interrogatives. After this, I present 16 experiments, whose results confirm that relative clauses with subextraction from the subject are accepted and do not lead to an increase in reading time, while participants seem to reject extractions out of the subject in interrogatives, and probably also in clefts (even though the results are less clear in this latter case). Comparing all these empirical evidences with the different accounts on subject islands, I conclude that the FBC constraint explains the data best.

I then propose an HPSG analysis of subject islands. I adopt a traceless analysis of extraction (via the SLASH feature) for interrogatives (Ginzburg and Sag, 2001), relative clauses (Abeillé et al., 2007) and clefts (Winckel & Abeillé, 2020). I show how information structure and syntax interact, using Song (2017)’s representation of information structure encoded in MRS semantic objects (Copestake et al. 2005). Finally, I propose a formalization of the FBC constraint.

05.01.2021 Chenyuan Deng, HU

Zur Syntax von ‚de‘ in der chinesischen NP

12.01.2021 Nico Lehmann, David Müller, Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Verhoeven, Prof. Dr. Aria Adli

Cross-linguistic aspects of register variation: Right-peripheral constituents in German

19.01.2021 Elisabeth Backes, HU

A diachronic perspective on the structure of pseudo-partitives in English

26.01.2021 Yanru Lu, HU

Verbal reduplication in Mandarin Chinese

In Mandarin Chinese, verbs (kan ‘look’) can be reduplicated (kan kan ‘look look’) to express a delimitative aspectual meaning (e.g. Chao 1968; Li & Thompson 1981; Smith 1994; Tsao 2001; Xiao & McEnery 2004), namely that the event denoted by the verb happens in a short duration and/or a low frequency (kan kan ‘look a little bit’). The current study tries to determine a suitable formal and unified analysis for the structure of verbal reduplication in Mandarin Chinese. After introducing its forms and syntactic distribution, I discuss the questions of whether there is a head-copy difference between the two elements and whether it is a morphological or syntactic phenomenon. Further, I discuss the strength and weaknesses of previous analyses, which can be classified into three groups: the reduplicant as a verbal classifier (Chao 1968; Fan 1964; Hong 1999; Xiong 2016; Zhu 1982), the reduplicant as an aspect marker (Arcodia et al. 2014; Basciano & Melloni 2017; Travis 1999, 2000; Yang & Wei 2017) and the postulation of a special reduplication construction (Ghomeshi et al. 2004; Travis 2001, 2003). Finally, I present a preliminary HPSG analysis.

02.02.2021 Julian Rott, HU

On the interaction of the word formation, conceptual stativity and transitivity alternations in the psych domain

A psych situation arises when a person holds a certain mental state due to exposure to some sort of trigger. In many languages, this is lexicalized by psych verbs, which therefore must encode three major ontological components: the experiencer, the mental state and the stimulus. A priori, one could assume that this should give rise to purely stative verbs across languages. However, psych verbs also frequently participate in transitivity alternations similar to the causative alternation. This means that we encounter a triad of stative, inchoative and causative forms of psych verbs which constellate cross-linguistically in different, yet systematic ways. Simultaneously, stative readings of morphologically non-stative forms are also a well-attested feature of the psych domain. We propose that one driving factor in this heterogeneity is the fact that languages derive the a large number of psych verbs from other parts of speech. The verbalizer(s) available to this end create the basis for the resulting alternation patterns (e.g. Turkish umut-lan-mak 'become hopeful' < umut 'hope', Spanish asqu-e-ar 'disgust' < asco 'disgust') and thus significantly impact the transitivity typology (cf. Nichols et al. 2004) and other behavioral features of a given language's psych domain. For basic intransitive forms specifically, the potential coexistence of stative and inchoative forms of equal morphological complexity may obstruct the identification of a basic alternation strategy. This talk presents data from the beginning stages of a typological top-down approach to the impact of the internal structure of psych verbs on the psych alternation.

09.02.2021 Nico Lehmann, Frederic Blum, Elisabeth Verhoeven, HU

CoCoYum: The collaborative Yucatec Maya corpus – A model corpus architecture for indigenous language corpus collection

Cocoyum (CCY), a collaborative, cooperative corpus collection of Yucatec Maya (YM, Yucatán, México), showcases a way to create a holistic, flexible corpus architecture for all types of indigenous language data. While efforts for language documentation and archiving via storing data in repositories has increased, the data often remains scattered and behind technological barriers. We argue for the necessity of easily accessible, searchable, re-usable and flexible corpus collections for indigenous languages with combined efforts from speakers and researchers. The benefit is immense for all researchers and communities who – through joint endeavours and strengthened relationships – gain access to more diverse data, allowing scholars from within and outside communities to run quick and spontaneous corpus searches.

16.02.2021 David Müller, HU

Um überhaupt einen Vortrag zu halten – German überhaupt in purpose clauses (and other subordinate constructions)

In my talk I will present the preliminary outline of my MA. thesis. I will give an overview of three accounts of german ‘überhaupt’ from the existing literature:  Anderssen (2006),  Zobel (2020) and Rojas-Esponda (2014) as well as one account on Question-Focus even by Iatridou & Tatevosov (2016), which also seems relevant. I will try to propose the idea that “überhaupt” in purpose clauses (and maybe in other subordinate conjunctions as well) is best accounted for by some kind of scalar operation that ranks the element in scope of überhaupt lowest on a contextually provided scale similar to ‘minimal sufficiency only’ by Grosz (2012).

23.02.2021 Marie Christin Walch, HU


Sommersemester 2020
Dienstags, 16:00-18:00
BA und Mas­ter Lin­gu­is­tik


21.04.2020 Organisation

28.04.2020 Organisation

05.05.2020 Paola Fritz-Huechante

Spanish transitive psychological verbs: Insights from their scalar structure

Transitive experiencer object (TEO) verbs in Spanish (e.g. molestar ‘bother’, alegrar ‘make happy’) have been analyzed (in their eventive reading) as telic causative change of state verbs, similar to well-known instantiations of this aspectual type, e.g. secar ‘dry’, limpiar ‘clean’ (e.g. in Alexiadou & Iordachioaia 2014). Both types of verbs share basic semantic and scalar characteristics: they possess an affected argument (the object) which undergoes a change in a property. This property is associated with the adjective meaning that is related to the verbs’ semantic core, e.g. the state of being bothered or the state of being dry. The process of change the object goes through leads to a natural culminating endpoint (Dowty 1979), which is necessary for a particular set of transitive change of state (TCoS) verbs (such as e.g. secar ‘dry’) making them be perceived distinctively telic. Crucially, also TEO verbs have been described as telic CoS predicates where the experiencer object undergoes a culminating change. However, Spanish data shows that the point where the (culminating) change occurs is set differently for the two types of verbs. The point of culminating change has an impact on the verbs’ scalar structures (which are inherited from the meaning of the adjectives which are related to the verbs) and consequently on their telicity. The main goal of this talk is to show that the relation between the event structure and the scalar structure of the gradable properties of TEO verbs differs from that of telic TCoS verbs. Specifically, we will see that TEO verbs are associated with a lower closed scale (similar to other lower closed scale verbs such as wet, cf. also Kennedy & McNally 2005), which is different from telic TCoS verbs, which possess an upper closed scale. It will also be shown that the specific scalar structure of these two subtypes results from where the natural bound is located in the related adjectives.

12.05.2020 Julian Rott

Psych, Incorporated? – Towards a typology of alternating psych constructions

Psych verbs are well-known for their structural variability both within and across languages. They describe force-dynamically exceptional relations in which a conceptually open, often non-human stimulus combines with a necessarily animate and usually humanexperiencer. Consequently, either entity may be framed as the situation’s initiator, a choice which bears directly on syntax and creates cross-linguistic variability in linking and diathetic alternations (Dowty 1991, Croft 1991, Nichols et al. 2004). At the same time, the processes which hold between these entititeshave an outcome which is largely intangible despite strongly impacting the affected entity, often entailing social ramifications of some kind (cf. Johnson-Laird & Oatley 1989). It follows that compared to events which are independently observable, the conceptualization and lexicalization of psych processes is bound to be more strongly culturally informed, and therefore highly cross-linguistically heterogeneous (Wierzbicka 1986, Boster 2005).

The internal structure of psych predicates has long figured in typological research, with several different strategies emerging. Likewise, the investigation of alternating structures in psych verbs has been gaining substantial traction in recent years. However, these strands of research have so far interacted very little: Research on psych expressions is not concerned with alternations (see e.g. Matisoff 1986, Bouchard 1995), while studies on alternating psych verbs largely limit themselves to the internally uniform verbs of the Standard Average European type (Pesetsky 1995, Alexiadou & Iordăchioaia 2014). The aim of this talk is discuss the development of a model that captures both of these perspectives in a unifiedway. This is indicated becausethe internal structure of psych predicates can be shown to directly impactthe way alternations can play out. Consequently, the binary oppositionof causative/inchoativeformsproposed intypological accounts such asHaspelmath (1993) andNichols et al.(2004) can be expanded by incorporating multiple psych-specific alternation sub-types.

19.05.2020 Berry Claus

Three semantic/pragmatic accounts of framing effects: use conditions | truth conditions | counterfactual alternatives

The term framing effect refers to the well-established finding that choices and judgments are systematically altered by changing the description of options or states of affairs (e.g. stating the expected consequences of a disease control program in terms of survival rate vs. death rate). Framing effects have been extensively investigated in cognitive psychology and behavioral economics. However, in the linguistic literature, they have received only limited attention. On the other hand, research on framing effects has largely neglected the role of language. Yet, the very basis of framing effects is linguistic variation. In the talk, I will look at framing effects from linguistic perspectives. I will discuss three semantic/pragmatic accounts that attribute the source of framing effects either to a difference in use conditions, or to a difference in truth conditions, or to a difference in counterfactual semantic alternatives. For each account, I will present novel findings from experimental pilot studies. Finally, and presumably, I will sketch future directions and plans.

26.05.2020 Till Kulawik

Relative clauses in languages of the First Persian Empire

The starting point for this presentation are relative clauses in two languages of the ancient Near East: Babylonian and Elamite, which differ in several aspects from relative clauses typically found in Indo-European languages. I then contextualise these two constructions both grammatically and historically, highlighting grammatical phenomena such as suffixaufnahme and the construct state as well as outlining the linguistic landscape of the Achaemenid Empire (550 BC–330 BC) and discussing implications for the further development of Indo-European languages in the same region.

09.06.2020 Felix Bildhauer und Roland Schäfer

Beyond Multidimensional Analysis: Probabilistic Register Induction for Large Corpora

The analysis of the register in which a corpus document is written is prominently associated with Biber’s (1988; 1995) Multidimensional Analysis (MDA). We present an approach superficially similar to MDA but which solves three major conceptual problems of MDA by using Bayesian inference to uncover registers or – rather potential registers. First, in Biber’s MDA, registers are associated discretely with documents, and each document can only instantiate one specific register, whereas we allow registers to be associated probabilistically with documents, and we allow mixtures of registers in single documents. Given that many linguistic phenomena are now understood as being probabilistic in nature (cf. Schäfer 2018), we suggest that this is a much more realistic assumption. Second, we assume the surface features to be associated with registers in a probabilistic manner for similar reasons. Third, we do not use a catalogue of registers assumed to exist a priori, but instead we merely infer potential registers (pregisters) via clusters of surface features. The question of which pregisters actually correspond to registers with an identifiable situational communicative setting will be dealt with in a future stage of the project using theory-driven evaluation and experimental validation. Given our assumptions about the nature of the mapping between features and pregisters and pregisters and documents, an obvious algorithm to use is Bayesian inference in the form of Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA; Blei et al. 2003; Blei 2012) as used in Topic Modelling. In our approach, we deal with pregisters instead of topics and with distributions of lexico-grammatical surface features instead of lexical words. The LDA algorithm otherwise performs an exactly parallel inference task. We first show how we extended the COReX feature extraction framework (Bildhauer & Schäfer in prep.) developed at FU Berlin and the IDS Mannheim in order to provide a large enough number of features for the LDA algorithm to work. We then present first results and discuss how we tuned the LDA algorithm and the feature set to lead to interpretable results. In order to be able to interpret the pregisters found by LDA, we extract the documents which most strongly instantiate the inferred pregisters. We introduce the PreCOX20 sub-corpus of the DECOW German web corpus, in which those prototypical documents are collected for further analysis w.r.t. their situational communicative setting.




Biber, D. (1988). Variation across Speech and Writing. CUP.

Biber, D. (1995). Dimensions of Register Variation: A Cross-Linguistic Comparison. CUP.

Bildhauer, F. & R. Schäfer (in prep.) Automatic register annotation and alternation  modelling.

Blei, D. M (2012). Probabilistic topic models. Communications of the ACM 55(4), 77-84.

Blei, D. M., A. Y. Ng & M. I. Jordan (2003). Latent Dirichlet Allocation. Journal of Machine Learning Research 3, 993-1022.

Schäfer, R. (2018). Probabilistic German Morphosyntax. Habilitation thesis. HU Berlin.


23.06.2020 Roland Schäfer

Grammatische Variation zwischen Individuen und Situationen: Perspektiven für Linguistik und Bildungsspracherwerb

30.06.2020 Jian Ma, Universität zu Köln

Agensprototypikalität und Rollenprominenz in der Passivbildung im Deutschen und Mandarin-Chinesischen

07.07.2020 Jana Bajorat

Der Einfluss von Gegebenheit auf Wortstellung im Ika (Chibcha, Kolumbien)

Das Ika (Chibcha-Sprache) wird im Norden Kolumbiens von ca. 33.000 Personen gesprochen. Es ist eine Sprache mit kanonischer AOV-Wortstellung, die jedoch andere Wortstellungen wie OAV, AVO und OVA zulässt.

Der Einfluss von Gegebenheit auf Wortstellung wurde sprachübergreifend untersucht mit dem Ergebnis, dass tendenziell gegebene Information neuer Information vorausgeht („given things first-principle“, bspw. Neelemann & van de Koot 2016). Das bedeutet für AOV-Sprachen, dass bei gegebenem Agens sich nichts an der Wortstellungändert und dass bei gegebenen Objekt dieses vorangestellt wird. Letzteres kann syntaktisch gesehen als eine A-Bewegung (und keine A'-Bewegung) bzw. A-scrambling analysiert werden (siehe bspw. Neelemann & van de Koot 2008, 2016; Skopeteas & Fanselow 2009).

Im Rahmen eines Experiments wurde der Einfluss von Gegebenheit auf die Wortstellung im Ika untersucht (Feldforschung April/Mai 2018 in Pueblo Bello, Cesar, Kolumbien; Experiment „Visibility“ aus dem Questionnaire on Information Structure(QUIS, Skopeteas et al. 2006: 39ff)). Dabei zeigte sich, dass bei gegebenem Agens die kanonische Wortstellung AOV beibehalten wird und dass bei gegebenem Objekt, welches für die OAV-Wortstellung über das Agens scramblen müsste, diese OAV-Stellung zwar häufiger ist, jedoch nicht obligatorisch. Außerdem wird das gegebene Argument – Agens oder Objekt – häufig mit dem Topikmarker =ri markiert, wodurch sich theoretisch zwei syntaktische Strukturen ergeben: Scrambling ohne Markierung (A-Bewegung) oder Topikalisierung (A'-Bewegung).

Das Vortragsthema ist Teil des Promotionsprojekts „On the Interaction Between Argument Structure and Information Structure in Ika (Chibchan, Colombia)“, betreut durch Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Verhoeven und Prof. Dr. Juan Diego Quesada.




Neeleman, Ad & Hans van de Koot. 2008. Dutch scrambling and the nature of discourse templates. The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 11(2). 137–189.

Neeleman, Ad & Hans van de Koot. 2016. Word order and information structure. In Caroline Féry & Shinichiro Ishihara (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Information Structure, 383–401. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Skopeteas, Stavros et al. 2006. Questionnaire on Information Structure (QUIS): Reference Manual (Interidisciplinary Studies on Information Structure. Working Papers of the SFB 632 4). Potsdam: Universitätsverlag Potsdam.

Skopeteas, Stavros & Gisbert Fanselow. 2009. Effects of givenness and constraints on free word order. In Malte Zimmermann & Caroline Féry (eds.), Information structure: Theoretical, typological, and experimental perspectives (Oxford linguistics), 307–331. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Wintersemester 2019/20




In dieser Veranstaltung werden Präsentationen zu laufenden Forschungs- und Abschlussarbeiten auf allen Qualifikationsebenen (Bachelor, Master, Promotion) aus den Bereichen Syntax und Semantik gehalten. Zusätzlich gibt es Termine, zu denen eingeladene externe Wissenschaftler vortragen.


Ort: Dorotheenstraße 24, Raum 1.401

Dienstag, 15:59-17:30
BA und Mas­ter Lin­gu­is­tik


  • 15.10.2019 Ver­ga­be der Vor­trä­ge
  • 29.10.2019 Paola Hu­echan­te & An­to­nio Ma­chi­cao y Prie­mer
  • 05.11.2019
  • 12.11.2019 Elo­die Winckel (joint work with Anne Ab­eillé, Bar­ba­ra Hem­forth and Ted Gib­son): "Focus, topic, and su­b­ex­trac­tion from sub­jects"
  • 19.11.2019 Julian A. Rott: " "A cross-linguistic empirical approach to emotion lexis and syntax"
  • 26.11.2019 Che­nyuan Deng: "No­mi­nal­struk­tu­ren im Man­da­rin Chi­ne­si­schen"
  • 03.12.2019 Jakob Mache: "Se­ri­el­le Ver­ben"
  • 10.12.2019 Se­bas­ti­an Bü­cking: "Un­ab­hängige Kri­te­ri­en zur Va­lenz-​ vs. Kon­struk­ti­ons­bin­dung? – Fall­bei­spiel DP-​und-​Präd-​Struk­tu­ren"
  • 17.12.2019 Matías Guzmán Naran­jo: "Ana­lo­gi­cal blocks in in­flec­tio­nal mor­pho­lo­gy"
  • 07.01.2020
  • 14.01.2020 Frederic Blum: "De-verbal nominalizations in Quechua"
  • 21.01.2020 Tibor Kiss
  • 28.01.2020 John Torr: "A wi­de-​co­ver­a­ge Mi­ni­ma­list par­ser"
  • 04.02.2020 Nico Leh­mann
  • 11.02.2020 Moana Schul­ze