Semantics of Noun Phrases

organized by Ljudmila Geist (Stuttgart)

Most Slavic languages lack articles. This qualifies them as a challenging test case for theories of noun phrases. Over the last twenty years, we have seen a number of characteristic developments, e.g.:

  • Theory of referentiality and (in)definiteness: Traditionally, it has been assumed that determiners in D contribute to referentiality and specify the definite or indefinite reading of the NP. Coppock & Beaver (2014) challenge this view and argue that (in)definite determiners in languages with articles only specify the NP with respect to (in)definiteness but not with respect to referentiality.
  • Structure of DP/NP: To better account for the interpretation and distribution of noun phrases, additional structural layers apart from D and N, such as Num(ber), Cl(assifier), among others, have been proposed (e.g. Borer 2005, Heycock and Zamparelli 2005, Alexiadou 2014). Such functional heads host number features and semantic operators.
  • Theory of pseudo-incorporation of bare NPs: Bare NPs in some languages have been shown to share properties with both strong referential NPs and non-referential incorporated nouns (e.g., Dayal 2011). For such so-called pseudo-incorporated bare NPs, new modes of semantic integration into argument positions of verbs have been proposed (Chung & Ladusaw 2003, Farkas & de Swart 2003).
  • The aim of this workshop is to explore the applicability of these and other advances in the theory of noun phrase interpretation to NPs in Slavic languages. Some of these issues have been addressed in syntactic approaches (e.g. Bošković 2008, Franks & Pereltsvaig 2004) and semantic analyses (e.g. Borik 2016, Mueller-Reichau 2015). We welcome new contributions. Particular topics that will be addressed include, but are not limited to, the following:

    - Semantic arguments in favor of or against the DP-hypothesis;
    - Semantics of gender, number and case in the layered structure of nominal expressions;
    - Semantic integration of bare NPs into argument positions of verbs;
    - Formal treatment of (in)definiteness of bare NPs provided by information structure;
    - Impact of the internal/external argument status and syntactic position of the NP on its interpretation;
    - Denotation of nouns as heads of NPs (kind, individual object, property).

ALEXIADOU, A. 2014. Multiple determiners and the structure of DP. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
BORER, H. 2005. Structuring Sense, Vol. I: In Name Only. Oxford: OUP.
BORER, O. 2016. Constraints on the position and interpretation of bare singular indefinites in Russian. Linguistica 56(1): 9-23.
BOŠKOVIĆ, Ž. 2008. What will you have, DP or NP? In: Elfner & Walkow (eds.) Proceedings of NELS 37: 101-114.
CHUNG, S. & W. A. LADUSAW 2003. Restriction and saturation. Cambridge: MIT Press.
COPPOCK, E. & D. BEAVER 2015. Definiteness and Determinacy. Linguistics and Philosophy 38(5). 377-435.
DAYAL, V. 2011. Hindi pseudo-incorporation. NLLT 29.1: 123-167.
FARKAS, D.F. & H. de SWART. 2003. The Semantics of Incorporation: From Argument Structure to Discourse Transparency. Standford: CSLI.
FRANKS, S. & PERELTRSVAIG, A. 2004. The Functional Structure of the Nominal Domain. In: Proceedings of FASL 12: 109-128.
HEYCOCK, C. & R. ZAMPARELLI 2005. Friends and colleagues: Coordination, plurality, and the structure of DP. Natural Language Semantics 13: 201-270.
MUELLER-REICHAU, O. 2015. Pseudo-Incorporation in Russian? Aspectual Competition and Bare Singular Interpretation In: Borik, Olga, and Berit Gehrke (eds) The Syntax and Semantics of Pseudo-Incorporation. Leiden: Brill, 262-295.

Heritage Slavic Languages in Children and Adolescents

organized by Natalia Gagarina (Berlin)

Due to migration, the number of children and adolescents who speak a (minority) language at home different from the societal (majority) language has increased. Depending on the country and place of residence, speakers of these minority – Slavic – languages have different possibilities for maintaining them (Moser & Polinsky, 2013). On the one hand, this increases diversity wrt acquisition paths, timing, and levels of attainment. On the other hand, it creates greater potential for instable use of already acquired categories. Although Slavic languages exhibit rich morphology and are known for the high speed at which noun and verb inflection is acquired (Xantos et al. 2011), the multilingual environment does not provide sufficient input for a ‘typical’ developmental path in these languages. The crucial role of input for acquisition and use of language by children and adolescents is accepted by both UG-based and usage-based theories. Usage-based approaches emphasize the crucial role of children’s linguistic experience and suggest that structural properties emerge from usage (e.g. Barlow & Kemmer 2000, Langacker 1987) and communication needs (Tomasello 2003). Formal theories, on the contrary, outline language in children and adolescents as a system of abstract categories and formal representations, which children possess from birth. The goal of the workshop is to compare various theoretical approaches in terms of how they fare vis-à-vis empirical data from children and adolescents using Heritage Slavic languages. Additionally, the similarities and divergence in language development and use by children and adolescents are in need of (more) explanation.

This workshop suggests (but is not limited to) the following topics:

  • Acquisition path and timing of nominal and verbal categories
  • Linguistic input and non-linguistic environmental factors in the acquisition of Heritage Slavic languages
  • Age of onset and attainment in the acquisition of Heritage Slavic languages
  • Diversity in the adolescents’ Heritage Slavic languages

BARLOW, M. & S. KEMMER. 2000. Usage-based models of language. Stanford: CSLI Publications.
LANGACKER, R. 1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar. Vol. I. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
MOSER, M. & M. POLINSKY (eds.) 2013. Slavic Languages in Migration. Wien, Zürich: Lit Verlag.
MONTRUL, S. 2008. Incomplete acquisition in bilingualism: re-examining the age factor. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
SCHMID, M. and B. KÖPCKE (eds.) 2013. First Language Attrition. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
TOMASELLO, M. 2003. Construction a Language: A Usage-based Theory of Language Acquisition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
XANTHOS, A., LAAHA, S., GILLIS, S., STEPHANY, U., AKSU-KOÇ, A., CHRISTOFIDOU, A., GAGARINA, A. et al. 2011. On the role of morphological richness in the early development of noun and verb inflection. First Language 31(3). 461-479.