General Linguistics Colloquium (WiSe 2023-2024)

Day, place: tuesdays, 16:15-17:45,
in presence at SPW 0.108, in zoom (registration in stud-ip, goettingen, for further details)
organized by Götz Keydana and Stavros Skopeteas

24.10.23. Start-up meeting

07.11.23. Jürgen Bohnemeyer (Buffalo):

Using statistical classification to discover cross-linguistic semantic prototypes: The causation domain

14.11.23. Ludger Paschen (Berlin):

Using DoReCo to study segmental duration across languages

In this talk, I will offer some insights into temporal aspects of speech based on a cross-linguistic sample from DoReCo. DoReCo (Language DOcumentation REference COrpus, contains spoken language corpora from 51 languages, focusing on datasets that originated in fieldwork-based documentations of small and endangered languages, carried out by DoReCo contributors. DoReCo contains over 100 hours of audio-recorded, mostly narrative texts with transcriptions that are time-aligned at the phone level, translations, and – for a subset of languages – also time-aligned morphological annotations. DoReCo data are freely accessible under Creative Commons licenses, providing the language sciences with fully contextualized, spoken data from a diverse sample of the world's languages. The time-aligned data in DoReCo provide an opportunity to explore the cross-linguistic properties of durational patterns of natural speech. In particular, I will present data focusing on positional lengthening and on morphological structure. For positional lengthening, I will present results from two studies on lengthening of vowels at the right edge of phrases (pre-boundary lengthening) and on strengthening of consonants at the beginning of phrases (initial lengthening). For morphological structure, I will present some preliminary observations on the temporal aspects of various morph types such as roots, affixes and clitics in a subset of the DoReCo languages.

21.11.23. Vassilios Spyropoulos (Athens):

Matching effects in Greek free relatives

28.11.23. Rodrigo Gutiérrez Bravo (Mexico City, Göttingen):

Information structure as parasitic features: Spelling out the syntax-information structure interface

In many respects, the specific relation and interaction of information structure with syntactic structure has not been clearly spelled out. In this presentation I argue that structures that have a position that can show multiple informational properties can be particularly insightful for understanding the interaction between information structure and syntax. Specifically, based on data from clefts and focus fronting, I propose that information structure interacts with the syntax indirectly via parasitic features, which are features that are not entirely syntactic in their nature.

Hendrik Pigola (Göttingen):

Pro-Drop and verbal agreement in Georgian

Pro-drop is said to be conditioned/licensed by „strong" verbal agreement as per the Null Subject Parameter (NSP). The implication of this assumption is that the agreement allows recovery of the information that is lost in dropping the pronoun, and that pro-drop is only possible with those arguments that agree with the verb, i.e. each paradigm is predicted to license pro-drop only for those pronouns that the verb agrees with. That this does not empirically hold has before been proven. Georgian allows pro-drop of all core arguments, reportedly without any restrictions. At the same time, Georgian exhibits what terms like ``strong'' agreement seem to (implicitly or explicitly) refer to. It has been used as an example in favor of the classical approach to the pro-drop parameter, because its agreement morphology supposedly allows full recovery of the pronominal Phi-features. I assess a number of systematic and non-systematic gaps in the Georgian verbal agreement system for effects on pro-drop. By backing up properties of the language described in Hewitt's 1995 reference grammar with data elicited from a native speaker, I investigate whether the gaps in agreement result in corresponding gaps or inconsistencies in the distribution of zero pronouns in Georgian. This will show whether the recovery of specific Phi-features is relevant for the licensing of pro-drop in the language.

05.12.23. Christine Teichert (Göttingen):

On the AH and Low German dialects

This presentation is an analysis of the Accessibility Hierarchy (Keenan/ Comrie 1977) with respect to Low German dialects. To be precise, I am going to focus on if relative pronouns in the evaluated literature from the areas of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (around Rostock) and around Münster have an effect on the universal order of the grammatical functions to form relative clauses. We are talking about regions with a relatively large geographical distance between each other

Tamari Berulava (Göttingen):

Bare Plurals in Article-less languages as Definites


12.12.23. Anastasiia Brovchenko (Göttingen):

Functional and semantic features of phraseological units in the English language


Mariia Shitik (Göttingen):

The Role of Mouthing in Russian Sign Language


Sepideh Siavashi (Göttingen):

Light Verb Selection for Forming Compound Verbs in Persian: A cognitive study

The research discusses the prevalence of compound verbs in Persian, formed by combining light verbs with various non-verb elements. Persian speakers comprehend and generate these compound verbs based on non-composite semantics, separating the compound's meaning from its components. Each compound verb consists of an element and a verb, with the primary meaning often interpreted through the substantial sense of the light verb. The study explores semantic islands associated with each light verb, revealing how Persian speakers understand and create new compound verbs. The mental categorization of speakers classifies new phenomena based on existing linguistic patterns, reflecting their cognitive system within the language. In the context of emerging phenomena like computer and internet usage, certain compound verbs, such as "email kardan" and "message dadan," have become widely accepted. The research investigates the patterns guiding the selection of co-occurring verbs in expressing these concepts, emphasizing cognitive linguistic categorization

Murat Baran (Göttingen):

The Berferatî Dialect of Kurmanji Kurdish: An Internal Classification

This study presents a lexical and phonological classification of the Berferatî dialect of Kurmanji Kurdish, spoken in parts of Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Based on translations obtained online of the Leipzig-Jakarta List and additional culturally relevant words from 14 native speakers from different locations, a classification was drawn up using phonological phenomena, a linguistic distance matrix and cluster analysis.

19.12.23. Patrick Auhagen, Iñaki Cano, Melanie Uth (Potsdam):

Variability in Spanish prepositional relative complementizers and its limitations - first results.

09.01.24. Svetlana Berikashvili (Tbilisi):

Implicit arguments in Georgian unergatives

The main question addressed in the presentation is whether the Georgian unergatives have implicit arguments in the structure and if so, are they syntactically projected or not? The existence or on the contrary the absence of phonologically null cognate objects in unergatives is a long-standing issue in syntactic theory and has been thoroughly studied cross-linguistically. Existing accounts of the Georgian unergatives also provide arguments to support both views. The arguments in the literature that support the existence of null objects in Georgian unergatives are merely based on transitivity and the possibility of involving cognate objects. In this presentation, I argue that unergatives do involve implicit direct objects and the main syntactic factors that determine their identification are (a) the [D] feature, (b) case and, (c) φ agreement. To support my view, I introduce new arguments such as the agreement morphology in perfect tenses which reflects the presence of the implicit object and the existence of a D head used as a residual of a DP with null objects. The additional argumentation concerns some new points to support the view of the transitive structure, the need for a second DP in the case-assignment domain (obligatory with ergative subjects) and the possibility of employing various valency-increasing strategies to add theme argument, including the use of cognate objects.

Tamara Kalkhitashvili (Tbilisi):

Digital Tools for Epigraphic Research: Preservation and Publication of Georgia's Inscriptions

The field of Digital Epigraphy, a rapidly growing domain within digital humanities, has been offered as a course at Ilia State University since 2016, forming an integral part of the master's degree program. The expertise derived from teaching this subject and research project titled "Epigraphic Corpus of Georgia" has culminated in the development of the textbook "Digital Epigraphy, Publishing Standard, and Methodology" (in Georgian).
The epigraphic monuments unearthed in Georgia are rich both linguistically and typologically. Knowledge about the ancient world preserved in epigraphic monuments is essential for studying various aspects of ancient history and daily life. The Greek and Aramaic inscriptions of Georgia are particularly interesting in this sense, while Georgian inscriptions are an essential source for Kartvelian studies. These numerous inscriptions, found on architectural monuments and various ritual objects of material culture, provide valuable insight into the social and political history of the region and its culture.
The digital edition of the multilingual epigraphic heritage of Georgia serves these essential purposes: the actualization of the existing printed scientific publications, digital scientific publication and curation of the epigraphic heritage of Georgia. In this talk I will be presenting the tools for digital scholarly edition of the epigraphic monuments EpiDoc and EFES, which I used for compiling Epigraphic Corpus of Georgia (Defended at Ilia State University in June, 2023. More in article: Digital Edition of the Inscriptions of Georgia page 20.). The necessary steps for the preparation of a digital scientific publication, as well as the examples of the adaptation of the international publication standard TEI, EpiDoc and EFES platforms to the epigraphic material of Georgia, should be interesting for anyone intending to create a digital epigraphic corpus, as well as for researchers interested in digital humanities in general.

16.01.24. Geoffrey Haig (Bamberg):

Goals Last in grammar and discourse

This talk presents the results of a cross-linguistic investigation into word order, with a focus on the position of spatial goals of motion and caused motion predicates. The initial observations stem from a project on word order in languages of Western Asia (Haig & Khan 2018; Haig et al, to appear; in press), a region characterized by a mix of languages with opposing word order profiles: head-final Turkic and Nakh-Daghestanian languages, head-initial Semitic languages, and languages with varying mixes (Iranian, Hellenic, among others). The project draws on naturalistic spoken data, using a sample of 35 languages (see Across the data, there is a tendency to place spatial Goals of verbs of motion and caused motion in clause-final position (ʻGoals Lastʼ), even in languages generally classified as ʻverb-finalʼ. Extending the investigation to an areally more diverse set of languages provides initial confirmation of this tendency at the level of frequency patterns in discourse, but also in the form of regular constraints on the ordering of constituents in caused-motion constructions cross-linguistically. Taken together, these findings permit a more specific formulation of earlier claims regarding the impact of iconicity in shaping word order (e.g. Tai 1985, Schapper 2011).

Haig, Geoffrey & Khan, Geoffrey. 2018. Introduction. In Haig, Geoffrey & Khan, Geoffrey (eds.), The Languages and Linguistics of Western Asia: An areal perspective, 1–29. Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.
Haig, Geoffrey, Mohammad Rasekh-Mahand, Donald Stilo, Nils Schiborr and Laurentia Schreiber. To appear. Post-predicate elements in the Western Asian Transition Zone: Data, theory, and methods. In Haig, Geoffrey et al. (eds.) Post-predicate elements in the Western Asian Transition Zone: a corpus-based approach to areal typology Berlin: Language Science Press
Haig, Geoffrey, Noorlander, Paul & Schiborr, Nils. In press. Which word order features are stable in a contact setting? Corpus-based evidence from the Western Asian Transition Zone. In Darquennes, Jeroen, Salmons, Joe & Vandenbussche, Wim (eds)., Language Contact: An international handbook. (Vol. 2). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter.
Haig, Geoffrey, Rasekh-Mahnd, Mohammad, Stilo, Donald, Schiborr, Nils N. & Dogan, Mahîr (eds.), WOWA: Word Order in Western Asia: A spoken-language-based corpus for investigating areal effects in word order variation. Bamberg: University of Bamberg.
Schapper, Antoinette. 2011. Iconicity of sequence in source and goal encoding in two Papuan languages of south-east Indonesian. Linguistics in the Netherlands, Volume 28, Issue 1, Jan 2011, p. 99 - 111.
Tai, James. 1985. Temporal sequence and Chinese word order. In J.Haiman (ed.) Iconicity in syntax (pp. 49-72). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

23.01.24. Katerina Stati: talk rescheduled for the Summer Semester (Münster):

Granularity as a typological parameter – a cross-linguistic study of the verbalization of events and objects


30.01.24. Jutta Hartmann (Bielefeld):

Agreement in Copular Clauses -- Identity sentences in German

Agreement in copular clauses is a central issue for the syntactic analysis of copular clauses. At the same time, copular clauses are one central domain of investigation for distinguishing different mechanisms of Agree especially in relation to the discussion of the Person Case Constraint (=PCC). One of the central questions is whether or not the agreement effects found in PCC contexts are the same as those in copular clauses as some analyses of the PCC predict that they are while other approaches do not necessarily predict this. In a recent paper, Coon & Keine (2021) propose that Agree targets all available NPs (feature gluttony) and can lead to conflicts in agreement, both for PCC effects as well as agreement in copular clauses based on their work on German identity sentences.
In this talk, I present collaborative work with Caroline Heycock and we present new data on agreement in German copular clauses arguing that this data does not support their proposal fully; while feature gluttony might well underlie PCC effects, and our data suggests that feature gluttony does not apply in German identity sentences.
Coon, Jessica & Stefan Keine. 2021. Feature Gluttony. Linguistic Inquiry 52(4). 655–710.

06.02.24. Balkız Öztürk (Istanbul):

Conducting Research on an Endangered Language: Laz

The aim of this talk is to introduce the research we have been conducting on Laz – an endangered South Caucasian Language spoken in Turkey for more than a decade at Boğaziçi University. We will not only highlight the significance of studying Laz for theoretical linguistics, but also focus on the impact of our academic research on the revitalization efforts of Laz by Laz activists. As part of our research, we will briefly illustrate two typologically rare properties of Laz which have significant theoretical implications: (i) Laz is a very strict type of Initiation-language in the sense of Ritter and Rosen (2000) where only eventualities with initial bound count as eventive, that is, any eventive verb should have a syntactically active initiator position, which makes the language lack true unaccuative patterns. (ii) Laz - a language with a highly complex spatial prefix system constitutes a weak verb-framed language, and thus complements Acedo Matellán’s typology (2010) who divides languages into three as (a) verb-framed languages, (b) weak satellite-framed languages and (c) strong satellite-framed languages by elaborating on Talmy’s path-based typology.