Workshop "Differential object marking: theoretical and empirical issues"

Giorgio Iemmolo giorgio.iemmolo at UNIPV.IT
Tue Aug 18 15:31:22 UTC 2009

Workshop "Differential object marking: theoretical and empirical issues"
to be held Friday August 28, 2009 during the symposium Case in and  
across languages (  
organized by SKY (The Linguistic Association of Finland) in Helsinki,  
Finland, 27-29 August 2009.

Convenor: Giorgio Iemmolo (University of Pavia)

Scientific Committee:
Sonia Cristofaro (University of Pavia)
Giorgio Iemmolo (University of Pavia)
Silvia Luraghi (University of Pavia)
Fernando Zúñiga (University of Zürich).

Differential object marking (DOM), i.e. the phenomenon whereby only  
some direct objects are (case)-marked depending on their semantic and  
pragmatic properties has been studied in detail in the functional- 
typological literature (e.g. Bossong 1985, 1998; Comrie 1979, Croft  
1988, among others). Properties influencing DOM include animacy,  
definiteness, specificity and topicality.
Within the functional-typological literature, two main approaches to  
DOM can be identified, the “markedness” approach and the “indexing  
approach”. In the markedness approach, advocated for example in Comrie  
(1979) and Croft (1988), DOM reflects the marked status of highly  
definite and animate direct objects (in the typological sense of the  
notion of markedness, as defined e.g. in Croft 2003).
Proponents of the indexing approach have however argued that this  
analysis is in contrast with the notion of transitivity as put forward  
by Hopper and Thompson (1980), in that a high degree of affectedness  
(and, consequently, a high clause transitivity) of the direct objects  
directly correlates with a high degree of individuation (Næss 2004,  
DOM has also been studied within generatively oriented theories of  
grammar, such as Optimality Theory and Lexical Functional Grammar. For  
example, Aissen (2003), Morimoto (2002) and de Swart (2007) try to  
provide a systematic account of DOM from an OT-syntax and LFG  
approaches, adopting both a markedness and an indexing perspective.
More recently, Nikolaeva & Dalrymple (2007) have proposed a new model  
for DOM, suggesting that DOM is a grammatical strategy to mark the  
pragmatic role of secondary topic.
Although there are several studies dealing with DOM in individual  
languages, such as Spanish (e.g. Pensado 1995, von Heusinger & Kaiser  
2003, 2007, among others), Iranian languages (Bossong 1985) and  
others, comparatively little attention has been devoted to this  
phenomenon in cross-linguistic and diachronic perspective. The aim of  
this workshop is to bring together scholars interested in various  
aspects of DOM including:
• DOM in individual languages;
• the cross-linguistic distribution and the diachronic evolution of DOM;
• the interplay among the different factors held as relevant for DOM;
• DOM and information structure: does information structure affect the  
appearance of DOM?
• DOM and transitivity: are clauses with DOM high in transitivity as  
suggested by Hopper and Thompson and Næss, (thus representing the  
prototypical transitive clause), or does DOM signal the markedness of  
direct objects and, consequently, the transitive clause in which it is  
found? Can we consider the direct objects found in prototypical  
transitive clauses the prototypical direct objects? What challenges  
does this problem present for the theory of case?



09.00-09.30 Differential object marking: unity or diversity? - Peter  
de Swart (University of Groningen)

09.30-10.00 Formal and functional differences between DOM and DRM. -  
Seppo Kittilä (University of Helsinki)

10.00-10.30 Differential argument marking- a crosslinguistic study of  
areality. - Kaius Sinnemäki (University of Helsinki)

10.30-10.45 Break

10.45-11.15 Differentially marked topical objects in Komi. - Gerson  
Klumpp (Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich)

11.15-11.45 Differential object marking in Burmese.- Mathias Jenny  
(University of Zürich)

11.45-13.00 Lunch break

13.00-13.30 Differential object marking in Neo-Aramaic. - Eleanor  
Coghill (University of Cambridge)

13.30-14.00 Differential object marking in Balochi and beyond.- Agnes  
Korn (University of Frankfurt)

14.00-14.30 Differential object marking in Classical Greek. - Daniel  
Riaño Rufilanchas (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

14.30-15.00  Coffee break

15.00-15.30 Differential object marking in Eastern Mansi. - Susanna  
Virtanen (University of Helsinki)

15.30-16.00 Why differential object marking in Corsican? -  Elisabeth  
Stark & Kathrin Anne Neuburger (University of Zürich)

16.00-16.30 Discussion and closing words

Giorgio Iemmolo
Dipartimento di Linguistica
Università degli Studi di Pavia
Strada Nuova, 65
I- 27100 Pavia, Italy
e-mail: giorgio.iemmolo at

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