Göttingen International

Summer School "Form-Meaning Mismatches in Natural Language"


July 30 to August 10, 2018

This summer school is about the mapping between form and meaning. The idea that the form of a sentence reflects its meaning or the other way round is challenged by formal elements that are not reflected in the decomposition of meaning or by the presence of meaning components without straightforward exponents in the form of linguistic expressions. The lectures in this summer school introduce to the contribution of current advancements in linguistic theory and empirical research to the understanding of such form-meaning mismatches and examine a wide range of related phenomena such as agreement, negative and other types of concord, silent semantic operators, meaning enrichment through pragmatic reasoning, and the complex syntactic and semantic properties of particles.

This Summer School is part of a series of Summer Schools in Linguistics devoted to current theoretical and empirical advancements in Linguistic Research. Topics of previous Summer Schools were:

The lectures will be offered by international experts and scholars at the Göttingen University. The target audience consists of students and young researchers interested on morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, linguistic theory, linguistic typology. The participants will have opportunities to present their research or research interests in talks and poster presentations.

  • July 30 to August 10, 2018
  • Application deadline: February 16, 2018

Deadline extended! New application deadline: February 28, 2018!


Preliminary Schedule

Programm Linguistics


Lisa Matthewson, The University of British Columbia (Course I)
Meaningful silence: Detecting covert elements
In this course we investigate phonologically covert yet semantically contentful elements, focusing on the question of how they can be empirically detected. Topics to be covered include tense, modality, and discourse reference to propositional anaphors. Examples are drawn from languages such as Gitksan (Tsimshianic) and St’át’imcets (Salish).

Hilda Koopman, UCLA (Course II)
The view from the syntax
The following question will underly this series of lectures: to what extent are direct interfaces of the syntax semantics and syntax phonology interfaces within reach?
I will argue that the current standard view on this topic are overly pessimistic, and that a positive answer to this question may be within reach, in syntactic approaches that incorporates cartography and Antisymmetry. The lectures will be organized around a number of case studies, with comparative syntax playing a central role (from left right asymmetries and from individual variation to variation within language families and ultimately beyond).

Gurmeet Kaur & Tvica Seid & Hedde Zeijlstra, University of Göttingen (Course III)
Form-meaning mismatches: the theoretical perspective
One of the foundations of linguistic theory is that natural languages exhibit transparent relations between form and meaning. This corresponds to an old insight attributed to Frege (1879), which is known as the principle of compositionality and states that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meaning of its parts and the way these parts are combined (see also Janssen 1997). As insightful as it may be, this view is challenged by the existence of form-meaning mismatches.
Form-meaning mismatches come about in various guises. Examples are cases where particular instances of morphology do not seem to convey any additional meaning; and cases where the presence of one semantic element is morpho-syntactically manifested more than once in the utterance. In this short course we investigate the theoretical backgrounds of such form-meaning mismatches, both from a syntactic and a semantic perspective.

Daniel Gutzmann, University of Cologne (Course IV)
Expressives and syntax-semantics mismatches
Expressives like expressive adjectives, particles, or intensifiers exhibit special syntactic and semantic behavior that often does not seem to go together. The class takes a closer look at their properties and uses tools from formal semantics (multidimensional und use-conditional semantics) and syntax (features and agreement) to mitigate these mismatches and shows how the syntactic aspects of expressives help to shape their semantic interpretation.

Tim Stowell, UCLA (Course V)

Andreas Blümel & Götz Keydana, University of Göttingen (Course VI)
Issues in the Study of Clitics
Why and in what sense are clitics important for the syntax-semantics interface, the syntax-morphology interface and the morphology-phonology interface? In this class we want to address questions like these and hone in on e.g. Wackernagel phenomena, clitic climbing, possibly clitic doubling and others. We will consider typological and diachronic aspects of clitics and will possibly address methodological/empirical issues as well, such as corpus analysis.


Upon successful completion of the program, participants will be granted 6 ECTS credit points. Additional 3 ECTS can be earned by a research paper on a related topic.

Credits in ECTS can only be obtained after successful completion of the work load required. Student workload in ECTS consists of the time required to complete all planned learning activities such as attending lectures, seminars, independent and private study, preparation of projects, examinations, and so forth.
International participants who wish to receive credits for attending short term programs should check transfer policies with their academic advisor or the international office at their home institution.


The Summer School will take place at the historical Pauliner Church, which is host to the Göttingen State and University Library in the City of Göttingen. Map of the area

Fees & Funding

Participation is free of charge for the selected candidates.

Due to funding by the University of Göttingen the Summer School will be able to offer travel grants for international participants. The travel grants are paid as fixed country-specific travel allowances.
The Summer School also provides free organized accommodation.

All other individual incurred costs related to the participation in the summer school (entrance fees on excursions, food, etc.) have to be covered by the participants themselves (or by their respective home institutions).


The Summer School is open to 30 participants. The Summer School addresses advanced MA- and beginning PhD students working on, or interested in the topic. Participants will be selected based on their letter of motivation.

For an application please submit:

  • A CV and
  • A short letter of motivation (max. one page).

If you attend, you will need to prepare an oral presentation introducing yourself and your work. Please fill in the application form online (including CV and letter of motivation). After a successful submission of the application you should receive an automatic confirmation via eMail.

Apply for program

Application deadline: February 16, 2018.

Deadline extended! New application deadline: February 28, 2018!


Professor Dr. Stavros Skopeteas, Sprachwissenschaftliches Seminar, University of Göttingen

Professor Dr. Hedde Zeijlstra, Seminar for English Philology, University of Göttingen