Call for Papers: Workshop ?Subject and transitivity in Indo-European and beyond: A diachronic typological perspective?
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Please be so kind as to distrubute this call for papers among
interested colleagues and potential participants.
Thanks a lot!
Weare planning to organize the workshop.
Workshop ?SUBJECT AND TRANSITIVITY IN INDO-EUROPEAN AND BEYOND: A
DIACHRONIC TYPOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE?
at the 43rd annual Meeting of Societas Linguistica Europaea Vilnius,
2?5 September 2010 (http://www.flf.vu.lt/sle2010/first_call)
Leonid Kulikov (Leiden University) and Ilya Ser?ant (University of Bergen)
Contact emails: L.Kulikov@... , ilja.serzants@...
The workshop proposal (including a preliminary list of participants
and the topics of their papers) should be submitted to the SLE
organizers before November 15, 2009.
Therefore we ask potential participants to send us the provisional
titles of their presentations (with a draft abstract) no later than
Abstracts should be submitted by the end of December.
SUBJECT AND TRANSITIVITY IN INDO-EUROPEAN AND BEYOND: A DIACHRONIC
The recent decades are marked with a considerable progress in
the study of grammatical relations (subject, object) and their
relationships with transitivity (see, among others, Hopper & Thompson
1980; Kittilä 2002; Næss 2007). Impressive results are achieved both
in the study of the notion of prototypical transitive and intransitive
clauses, with canonical subject and object marking (see, in
particular, Aikhenvald et al. 2001; Bhaskararao & Subbarao 2004), and
in the research of intermediary, ?quasi-transitive?
(?quasi-intransitive?) types, often correlating with non-canonical
encoding of the core relations (non-nominative subjects etc.).
Meticulous research of subject properties has discovered an amazing
variety of criteria of subjecthood that can be used as a powerful tool
for detecting (non-canonical) subjects and, virtually, to arrive at a
more adequate definition of subject.
Indo-European languages are particularly notorious for their
diversity of non-canonical subject marking, ranking from nominative
(standard), to dative, genitive, accusative etc., as in Icelandic (1)
(see, among others, Bar?dal 2001), Lithuanian (2a), Polish (Holvoet
1991), or Bengali (Onishi 2001):
Mér likar þessi tilgáta
I:DAT like:PRES:3SG this hypothesis
?I like this hypothesis.?
a. Man uo lietaus su?alo
I:DAT because of rain freeze:PAST:3SG hand:NOM.PL
My hands became frozen because of rain.'
While the synchronic study of subject and transitivity in
Indo-European languages (and beyond) has furnished detailed
descriptions of syntactic patterns, inventories of features and types
and valuable cross-linguistic observations, little attention was paid
to the diachronic aspects of the phenomena in question. We cannot yet
explain why and how the non-canonical subject marking emerges and
disappears, how does it correlate with changes in the system of
transitivity types. Correlations between different transitivity types
and the status of the syntactic arguments (in particular, their
subject/object properties) can be illustrated with the Lithuanian
example in (2b). In contrast with (2a), it instantiates a higher
degree of control of the subject over the situation, and the canonical
subject marking is in correlation with the whole construction becoming
more transitive as compared to (2a) (Ser?ant, forthc.):
b. (Kol ?jau ? universitet?,)
(While I was going to university) freeze:PAST:1SG
(nes vis? keli? spaud?iau snieg? rankose.)
(because all the way I pressed snow in the hands)
?While I was going to the university, I froze up my hands,
because all the way I pressed snow in the hands.?
Thus, of particular interest are such constructions where
we observe increase of transitivity correlating with the increase of
subject (and object) properties of the core argument(s). This is the
case with the North Russian ?possessive perfect? constructions, as in
(3), which originates in possessive construction of the mihi-est type
with the passive participle (cf. Kuteva & Heine 2004), and attests
acquiring subject properties by the oblique ?possessor? noun
(3) U nego korov-a / korov-u
at he:GEN cow-NOM / cow-ACC
?He has milked the cow.?
Another issue relevant for a diachronic typological study of
subject and transitivity is the evolution of alignment systems. The
developments in the system of subject-marking and expansion of
non-canonical subjects, typically accompanied by rearrangements of
transitivity types, may open the way to dramatic changes in the type
of alignment ? for instance, from nominative-accusative to
ergative-absolutive (as in Indo-Iranian), or from ergative-absolutive
to nominative-accusative (as it was, presumably, the case in
Proto-Indo-European, according to some hypotheses; cf. Bauer 2001 and
Bavant 2008, among others). The relationships between these syntactic
phenomenon are not yet sufficiently studied. In particular, our
knowledge of the subject and transitivity features of the
Indo-European proto-language is still quite limited (see Barðdal &
Indo-European languages, with their well-documented history
and long tradition of historical and comparative research, offer a
particularly rich opportunity for a diachronic typological study of
the above-listed issues (see Bar?dal 2001 on Icelandic). One of the
first research projects concentrating on the diachronic aspects of
these phenomena started in 2008 in Bergen, under the general guidance
of J. Bar?dal (see http://ling.uib.no/IECASTP).
The idea of our workshop is to bring together scholars
interested in comparative research on subject and transitivity in
Indo-European and to open up new horizons in the study of these
phenomena, paying special attention to its diachronic aspects. While
the workshop concentrates mainly on evidence from Indo-European,
papers on non-Indo-European languages which could be relevant for a
diachronic typological study of the issues in question will also be
The issues to be addressed include, among others:
? theoretical and descriptive aspects of a study of subject and
? criteria for subjecthood and subject properties in
? features of transitivity and transitivity types in
Indo-European; how to define transitivity in constructions with
non-canonical subjects and/or objects?
? mechanisms of the rise or disappearance of non-canonical
? evolution of transitivity and changes in the inventory of
transitivity types in the history of Indo-European
? relationships between subject marking and transitivity types:
evolution of subject-marking with different semantic classes of verbs
? the main evolutionary types (from the point of view of
subject marking and transitivity types) attested for Indo-European
? subject and changes in the type of alignment: the emergence
of ergativity out of constructions with non-canonical subject
? voice, valency-changing categories and subject marking: their
relationships in a diachronic perspective
Leonid Kulikov Ilya Ser?ant
Leiden University University of Bergen
Aikhenvald. A.Y. et al. (eds) 2001. Non-canonical marking of subjects
and objects. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Barðdal, J. 2001. Case in Icelandic: A Synchronic, Diachronic and
Comparative Approach. Lund: Dept. of Scandinavian Languages, Lund
Barðdal, J. & Eythórsson, Th. 2009. The Origin of the Oblique Subject
Construction: An Indo-European Comparison. In: V. Bubeník et al.
(eds), Grammatical Change in Indo-European Languages. Amsterdam: John
Bauer, B. 2001. Archaic syntax in Indo-European: the spread of
transitivity in Latin and French. Berlin: Mouton.
Bavant, M. 2008. Proto-Indo-European ergativity... still to be
discussed. Pozna? Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 44/4: 433-447.
Bhaskararao, P. & Subbarao, K. V. (eds) 2004. Non-nominative Subjects.
2 vols. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Holvoet, A. 1991. Transitivity and clause structure in Polish: a study
in case marking. Warszawa: Slawistyczny Os?rodek Wydawniczy.
Holvoet, A. 2009: Difuziniai subjektai ir objektai. In: A. Holvoet &
R. Mikulskas (eds), Gramatini? funkcij? prigimtis ir rai?ka. Vilnius:
Vilniaus universitetas & Asociacija ?Academia Salensis?, 37-68.
Hopper, P. & Thompson, S. 1980. Transitivity in Grammar and Discourse.
Language 56/2: 251-299.
Kittilä, S. 2002. Transitivity: toward a comprehensive typology. Åbo:
Åbo Akademiska Tryckeri.
Kuteva, T. & Heine, B. 2004. On the possessive perfect in North
Russian. Word 55: 37-71.
Næss, Å. 2007. Prototypical transitivity. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Onishi, M. 2001. Non-canonically marked A/S in Bengali. In: A.Y.
Aikhenvald et al. (eds), Non-canonical marking of subjects and
objects. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 113-147.
Ser?ant, I. A. forthc. Lability across oblique subject predicates in
Baltic. In: L. Kulikov & N. Lavidas (eds), Typology of labile verbs:
Focus on diachrony.
Timberlake, A. 1976. Subject properties in the North Russian Passive.
In: Ch. N. Li (ed.), Subject and Topic. New York: Academic Press,
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