Workshop proposal for ICHL22, 27-31 July 2015, Naples - Spatial relations in diachrony

Silvia Luraghi luraghi at
Thu Aug 21 17:06:06 UTC 2014

>Dear Listers,

we would like to call your attention on our 
proposal for a workshop at ICHL 22 in Naples 
(27-31 July 2015). The workshop hasn't been 
accepted yet, but for the proposal we need a list 
of possible titles. We invite to send us a title 
by September 10th if you are interested. If our 
proposal is accepted, you will have to send an 
abstract following the instructions in the ICHL web page:

Send your reactions to:
Silvia Luraghi <silvia.luraghi at>
Tatiana Nikitina <tavnik at>

Important dates:
Deadline for workshop proposals: 20 September 2014
Notification of acceptance of workshop proposals: 20 October 2014
Deadline for submission of abstracts for general 
sessions and workshops: 30 January 2015
Notification of acceptance of papers for general 
sessions and workshops: 30 March 2015

Workshop proposal for ICHL22, 27-31 July 2015, Naples

  Spatial relations in diachrony

Silvia Luraghi, University of Pavia
Tatiana Nikitina, CNRS
Chiara Zanchi, University of Pavia

The workshop addresses changes in the coding of 
spatial relations, with a focus on the coding of 
similarities and differences among spatial 
relations, or among variants of the same spatial 
relation. Topics that we would like to discuss 
include the source-goal asymmetry, differential 
marking of spatial relations, polysemy or lack of 
polysemy among markers of spatial relations, and 
the related diachronic developments.

Asymmetries between goals and sources
Recent research has demonstrated a number of 
differences in the encoding of goals and sources 
of motion. In general, goals of motion are 
expressed more frequently and in more 
fine-grained ways than sources 
& Rohde 2004; 
& Zheng 2007, inter alia). The asymmetry also 
shows up in more subtle syntactic phenomena: 
unlike sources, which often behave as adjuncts, 
goals tend to share properties with verbal 
arguments, and they are also more likely than 
sources to be incorporated in the argument 
structure of verbal applicatives (Baker 1988; 
Filip 2003). Patterns of polysemy within systems 
of spatial marking also point in the same 
direction: static locations are commonly coded by 
the same markers as goals of motion, and in a way 
distinct from sources (Blake 1977, Noonan 2009, 
Nikitina 2009, Pantcheva 2010, Zwarts 2010). Not 
that this pattern of polysemy means that 
diachronic mergers of source and location are not 
attested; much to the contrary, many individual 
locative markers in European languages – such as 
French dedans ‘inside’ or Ancient Greek 
ópisthe(n) ‘behind’ – often go back to ablative 
expressions, suggesting an earlier 
ablative-locative transfer (Mackenzie 1978 with 
examples from the Indo-European language phylum, 
Israeli Hebrew, and two Austronesian languages, 
Fijian and Sonsorol-Tobi). What seems clear from 
the evidence adduced by Mackenzie, as well as 
from other instances of the semantic extension 
described above (cf., for example, Bennett 1989, 
Nikitina & Spano 2014, Luraghi 2009 and 2010a), 
is that once a marker acquires the locative 
meaning, it loses the original ablative meaning. 
Thus, while the extension from source to location 
is attested, possibly even more frequently than 
commonly believed, polysemy tends to be avoided. 
Note, however, that special types of landmarks 
(spatial referents, human beings) often allow 
some overlap in the use of ablative and locative 
encoding, and can be at the origin of 
ablative-locative transfers (Eckhoff, Thomason, 
de Swart  2013, Luraghi 2009 and 2014). What 
accounts for the difference between the observed 
synchronic patterns of spatial encoding, which 
tend to conflate static locations and goals, and 
the frequently attested individual instances of 
ablative-locative syncretism? How do 
ablative-locative transfers come about? How do 
different types of goal-source asymmetry develop historically?

Differential marking of landmarks
The encoding of certain spatial relations depends 
on the type of landmark, and non-conventional 
landmarks (e.g. human beings) often require 
special types of encoding (Luraghi 2011). With 
time, such differential marking may give rise to 
markers that are no longer obviously related to 
the original spatial concept. For example, the 
dative has been argued to be “genetically nothing 
else than an offshoot of the locative used with 
personal nouns” (Kurylowicz 1964: 190; cf. also 
Aristar 1996). How do patterns of differential 
marking of landmarks develop and what are their 
conditioning factors? What types of spatial 
relation are more likely to produce such asymmetries?
What is the possible relation between the 
comitative, which implies the simultaneous 
involvement of two entities (often human beings) 
in a single event, and the locative, which 
implies physical coincidence or at least 
proximity? Diachronically, comitative markers 
seem to arise from markers of static location; 
however, synchronic locative-comitative polysemy 
seems to be avoided, just like the 
locative-ablative polysemy. More research is 
needed on the diachronic relation between spatial 
and comitative markers, as at present, most 
evidence comes from Indo-European languages 
(Stolz, Luraghi 2014). If location indeed 
functions as a source of comitatives 
cross-linguistically, what accounts for the 
virtual absence of synchronic polysemy between the two semantic roles?

Asymmetries in the encoding of path
As compared to sources and goals of motion, the 
role of path remains largely understudied. In the 
light of cross-linguistic coding tendencies, goal 
(allative), source/origin (ablative), and 
(static) location (locative) seem to be more 
‘basic’ spatial relations than path. As argued in 
Stolz (1992: 30), there is a tendency for case 
marking related to spatial relations to exhibit 
‘Dreigliedrigkeit’, i.e. a tripartite structure 
featuring dedicated coding devices for location, 
direction and source. Indeed, path can often be 
coded through cases/adpositions that usually 
indicate location, as in English Mary walks in 
the field. / The child is running in the street. 
How are different kinds of path encoded, and 
where does this encoding come from? How is the 
distinction between unidirectional and 
multidirectional paths represented in different 
languages, and how does it develop historically?

The workshop addresses these and other issues in 
order to better understand the nature of 
asymmetries in the encoding of spatial relations 
and shed light on the diachronic relationship 
between goals, sources, paths, and static locations.

List of possible participants with tentative titles


Aristar, Anthony Rodriguez. 1996. The 
relationship between dative and locative: 
Kurylowicz’s argument from a typological perspective. Diachronica 13: 207-224.
Baker, Mark C. 1988. Incorporation: A theory of 
grammatical function changing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Bennett, David C. 1989. Ablative-locative 
transfers: evidence from Slovene and Serbo-Croat. 
Oxford Slavonic Papers 22: 133-154.
Blake, Barry J. 1977. Case marking in Australian 
languages. No. 23 in Linguistic Series. Canberra: 
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Eckhoff, Hanne Martine, Olga A. Thomason and 
Peter de Swart. 2013. Mapping out the Source 
domain. Studies in Language 37/2: 302–355.
Filip, Hana. 2003. Prefixes and the delimitation 
of events. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 11: 55–101.
Luraghi, Silvia 2009. A model for representing 
polysemy: The Italian preposition da. In Jacques 
François, Eric Gilbert, Claude Guimier, Maxi 
Krause, éds. Actes du Colloque “Autour de la 
préposition”, Caen, Presses Universitaires de Caen, 167-178.
Luraghi, Silvia. 2010. Adverbial Phrases. In A 
New Historical Syntax of Latin, Ph. Baldi and P. 
Cuzzolin (eds.). Berlin/ New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 19-107.
Luraghi, Silvia. 2011. Human landmarks in spatial 
expressions: from Latin to Romance. In S. 
Kittilä, K. Västi, J. Ylikoski (eds.), Case, 
Animacy and Semantic Roles. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 207-234.
Luraghi, Silvia. 2014. Plotting diachronic 
semantic maps. The role of metaphor. In S. 
Luraghi & H. Narrog, eds., Perspectives on 
Semantic Roles. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 99-150.
Mackenzie, J. Lachlan. 1978. Ablative-locative 
transfers and their relevance for the theory of 
case-grammar. Journal of Linguistics 14: 129-375.
Nikitina, Tatiana. 2009. Subcategorization 
pattern and lexical meaning of motion verbs: A 
study of the Source/Goal ambiguity. Linguistics 47: 1113-41.
Nikitina, Tatiana and Marianna Spano. 2014. 
'Behind' and 'in front' in Ancient Greek: A case 
study in orientation asymmetry. In On Ancient 
Grammars of Space: Linguistic research on the 
expression of spatial relations and motion in 
ancient languages, S. Kutscher & D. Werning 
(eds). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 67-82.
Noonan, Michael. 2009. Patterns of development, 
patterns of syncretism of relational morphology 
in the Bodic languages. In The Role of Semantics 
and Pragmatics in the Development of Case, J. 
Barðdal and S. Celliah (eds.). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 261-282.
Pantcheva, Marina. 2010. The syntactic structure 
of Locations, Goals, and Sources. Linguistics 48/5: 1043-1081.
Regier, Terry & Mingyu Zheng. 2007. Attention to 
endpoints: A cross-linguistic constraint on 
spatial meaning. Cognitive Science 31: 705–719.
Stefanowitsch, Anatol & Ada Rohde. 2004. The goal 
bias in the encoding of motion events. In Studies 
in Linguistic Motivation, G. Radden & 
K.-U.Panther (eds.). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 249-268.
Stolz, Thomas, Cornelia Stroh and Aina Urdze. 
2006. On comitatives and Related Categories. A 
Typological Study with Special Focus on the 
Languages of Europe. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Stolz, Thomas. 1992. Lokalkasussysteme.  Wilhelmsfeld: Gottfried Egert Verlag.
Zwarts, Joost. 2010. A hierarchy of locations: 
Evidence from the encoding of direction in 
adpositions and cases. Linguistics 48: 983-1009.

Silvia Luraghi
Dipartimento di Studi Umanistici, Sezione di Linguistica
Università di Pavia
Strada Nuova 65
I-27100 Pavia
telef.: +39-0382-984685
fax: +39-0382-984487
silvia.luraghi at 
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