WORKSHOP AT ICHL 20 - The Diachrony of Referential Null Arguments - Final Call

Silvia Luraghi silvia.luraghi at
Tue Nov 16 09:46:35 UTC 2010

We are glad to announce that our workshop proposal for a workshop on:

  The diachrony of referential null arguments

has been accepted!  The workshop will take place at:

20 International Conference on Historical Linguistics, Osaka 25-30 July 2011
             (see )

We received about ten abstracts and have some 
space for a couple of other talks. We would like 
to call attention especially on the diachrony of 
referential null objects in non-IE languages, so 
we encourage submission by colleagues who work on this or related topics.

The deadline for final submission is 15 January 2011
abstract must be submitted directly to the ICHL:

Workshop description

Definite referential null arguments are 
apparently one of the distinctive features of 
non-configurational languages, see Baker (2001). 
Even though descriptions are available for 
various genetically unrelated languages, there 
are little if any accounts of their diachrony. 
Our workshop aims to bring together scholars 
working on different language families and on 
typologically different languages who are 
interested in diachronic changes concerning the 
creation or disappearance of null arguments, with 
a focus on null objects or other types of null 
arguments not coreferenced on the verb.
The rise of null objects deserves further 
investigation. Null objects can be the result of 
incorporation, wherebt object clitics become verb 
affixes (Baker 2001). Related to incorporation is 
the Hungarian objective conjugation, whose rise 
is also a possible topic of discussion.
The occurrence of definite referential null 
objects has been observed in many ancient 
Indo-European languages. In spite of this, and in 
spite of the long documented history of these 
languages, even in their case historical accounts 
are limited, as are detailed studies of the 
conditions licensing null objects (Schäufele 1990 
on Sanskrit; several studies have been devoted to 
null objects in Old Icelandic, Sigurðsson 1993). 
At least in Latin and possibly in Greek, null 
objects seem to be obligatory in coordinated 
sentences, unless emphasis or disambiguation are 
involved (this is possibly a common phenomenon 
connected to coordination reduction and frequent 
in non-Indo-European languages as well, Luraghi 
2004), as well as in answers to yes/no questions 
(van der Wurff  1997). Descriptions of increasing 
use of over objects in Latin and Germanic point 
to increasing transitivity or emerging configurationality.

Papers presented at the workshop should aim to assess:
a) the relation between null objects and other 
parameters of configurationality;
b) the relation of null objects to other null 
argument, in particular to null subjects;
c) the relation between null objects and the 
parameter of head/dependent marking (Baker 2001);
d) null objects and the grammaticalization of valency;
e) incorporation and the rise of null objects.

Papers should have a diachronic orientation; 
research based on extensive corpora and 
quantitative approaches to language change are especially encouraged.

Baker, Mark (2001), ‘Configurationality and 
polysynthesis’, in M. Haspelmath, E. König, W. 
Oesterreicher, W. Raible (eds.),  Language 
Typology and Language Universals . An 
International Handbook. Berlin/New York: Mouton 
de Gruyter, vol. 2, pp. 1433-41.
Luraghi, Silvia 2004, ‘Null Objects in Latin and 
Greek and the Relevance of Linguistic Typology 
for Language Reconstruction’, in Proceedings of 
the 15th Annual UCLA Indo-European Conference, JIES Monograph 49, pp.234-256.
Schäufele, Steven (1990), Free Word-Order Syntax: 
the Challenge from Vedic Sanskrit to Contemporary 
Formal Syntactic Theory. Ph. D. dissertation, 
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Sigurðsson, Halldór A. (1993), ‘Argument-drop in 
Old Islandic’.  Lingua 89, 247-280.
Wurff, Wim van der, 1994.  “Null objects and 
learnability: The case of Latin”, Working Papers 
of Holland Institute for Generative Linguistics 1/4.

>We look forward to seeing you in Osaka!

Silvia Luraghi and Dag Haug

Silvia Luraghi
Dipartimento di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata
Università di Pavia
Strada Nuova 65
I-27100 Pavia
telef.: +39-0382-984685
fax: +39-0382-984487
silvia.luraghi at 
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