Form and Meaning of Coordination

Date: July 04-06, 2024
Place: at the Alte Mensa, Wilhelmsplatz 3
37073 Göttingen

Conference Description

Coordination is a universal operation that creates a combined and structured meaning while linking two or more linguistic expressions syndetically or asyndetically. Typically, the expressions in coordinated structures have a symmetrical morphosyntactic form. However, the mapping of such structures onto meaning poses several theoretical problems at the interface between morphosyntax and semantics/pragmatics (see Progovac 1998a,b and Hartmann 2015 for an overview).

For instance, coordination is known to be a suitable linguistic context for ellipsis, such as Gapping (see Ross 1967, Hartmann 2000, Repp 2009 for instance):

(1) Peter loves cake and Tom pudding.

The crucial point with elliptical structures lies in the peculiar mapping from form to meaning. Even though the symmetrical structure of the coordination is disrupted by the absence of a linguistic form for "loves" in (1), the meaning is still reconstructed. Whether this is subject to a symmetry condition of the conjuncts and which identity conditions must apply between ellipsis and antecedent is still a major debate (see for example Hartmann 2000, Repp 2009, Reich 2011, Bîlbîie & Nykiel 2023).

Furthermore, although the logical operators of conjunctive or disjunctive coordination usually combine expressions symmetrically, in some cases the semantic/pragmatic interpretation of the coordination is asymmetric. For instance, the coordinating conjunction and triggers temporal/causal implicatures in many languages (see e.g. Ross 1967, Bar-Lev & Palacas 1980, Meibauer 1997, Txurruka 2003, Zeevat & Jasinskaja 2007, Weisser 2015):

(2) I went to the store and bought some whisky. (Ross 1967: 168)

Reversing the order of the conjuncts changes the meaning of the coordinate structure (but see for instance Mandarin for an exception).

Also with respect to the meaning of coordination, a growing interest can be observed in the literature of recent years (see for example Bjorkman 2012, Haslinger & Schmitt 2017, Altshuler & Truswell 2022). Furthermore, diachronic (see for example Coniglio & Schlachter 2013, Oppermann 2021) and cross-linguistic investigations have also provided new insights in this regard (see for example Haspelmath 2004, Haslinger & Schmitt 2019, Himmelreich, Jeckel & Mursell 2024).

Asymmetries between form and meaning in coordination have been shown to be the result of the interplay between the syntax, semantics and pragmatics and have prompted several studies from different perspectives. By tackling these and related issues, this conference aims to bring together researchers working on coordination in different areas of linguistics.

"Invited talks on the morphosyntax, semantics, and pragmatics of coordination will be given by the following keynote speakers:
  • Anke Himmelreich (Frankfurt/Bielefeld)
  • Ingo Reich & Lisa Schäfer (Saarbrücken)
  • Viola Schmitt (Berlin)
  • There is no registration fees. No online registration is required.

    If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the organizers:
    Marco Coniglio (Göttingen)
    Marianna Lohmann (Leipzig)
    Sophia Oppermann (Münster)
    Zeming Xu (Göttingen)