[Lingtyp] CfP: Propositions vs. States-of-Affairs, SLE 2016

Kasper Boye boye at hum.ku.dk
Fri Dec 18 13:22:32 UTC 2015

Second call for papers

Propositions vs. States-of-Affairs

Workshop at the 49th SLE meeting, Naples, August 31 – September 3, 2016


The previously announced workshop “Propositions vs. States-of-Affairs” has now been accepted, and we’ve been allotted enough slots that we have room for a few more contributions.

We therefore encourage you to submit an abstract by the general deadline.

Submission procedure:

Please submit your abstract directly to the SLE via Easychair (https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=sle2016), and remember to select the workshop under “Type of paper”.

The abstract should i) be anonymous, ii) contain between 400 and 500 words (exclusive of references), and (3) state research questions, approach, method, data and (expected) results.

The submission deadline is January 15th 2016.

- Abstracts will receive three scores, two by two members of the SLE 2016 Scientific committee and one by the workshop convenors.

- If at the end of the reviewing process there are more accepted papers in the workshop than slots (10 or 15), a selection of papers for the workshop will be made by the convenors. Unselected papers will be scheduled in the general session.

Please contact Kasper Boye (boye at hum.ku.dk<mailto:boye at hum.ku.dk>) if you intend to submit an abstract, or if you have any questions.

Kind regards,

Kasper Boye and Marie-Louise Lind Sørensen

University of Copenhagen

boye at hum.ku.dk<mailto:boye at hum.ku.dk>

mlsoerensen at hum.ku.dk<mailto:mlsoerensen at hum.ku.dk>



Call for papers

Propositions vs. States-of-Affairs

Workshop at the 49th SLE meeting, Naples, August 31 – September 3, 2016


Kasper Boye and Marie-Louise Lind Sørensen, University of Copenhagen, Denmark


This workshop aims at bringing together linguists of different orientations and with different research focuses in order to furnish our understanding of contrasts between Propositions (truth-valued predications) and SoAs (non-truth-valued predications).


The distinction between Propositions and States-of-Affairs (SoAs) can be characterized in terms of the notion of truth-value: Propositions are truth-valued predicational meaning units, while SoAs are non-truth-valued. The distinction plays a central role in language philosophy and metaphysics (e.g. Loux 1998). In linguistics, it has been employed in several frameworks and by a variety of scholars – although under different names:


“Proposition” (Loux 1998; Svenonius 1994; Schüle 2000; Lyons 1977) “Propositional content” (Dik & Hengeveld 1991) “Fact” (Lees 1960; Vendler 1967; Dixon 2006) “Third-order entity” (Lyons 1977)

State-of-affairs (SoA)

“State of affairs” (Loux 1998; Svenonius 1994; Dik & Hengeveld 1991) “Event” (Vendler 1967; Schüle 2000) “Action” (Lees 1960) “Activity” (Dixon 2006) “Second-order entity” (Lyons 1977)

Pertaining to predicational meaning units, the distinction is relevant to clause contrasts (including nominalizations). It has been used to capture contrasts between different complement types of, for instance, modal predicates (1), perception predicates (2), knowledge predicates (3), and utterance predicates (4) (see Boye 2012: 188-194 for an overview; cf. Dixon 2006: 23-31).

(1) Modal complements (e.g. Lyons 1977: 842-843; Palmer 1979: 35; Perkins 1983: 7-8)

      He may stay in that house.

      a.                   ‘It is possible for him to stay in that house’.  (SoA reading of complement)

      b.                   ‘It may be the case that he is staying in that house’.  (Prop. reading of complement)

(2) Perception complements (e.g. Dik and Hengeveld 1991: 242-245; Boye 2010a)

      a.                   I saw [him write a letter].                                    (SoA complement)

      b.                   I saw [(that) he was writing a letter].             (Propositional complement)

(3) Knowledge complements (Sørensen & Boye 2015) (data from Jacaltec; Craig 1977: 241, 235)

     a.  Wohtaj   [hin        watx'en  kap           camixe].                 (SoA complement)

           I.know    I.make ?                 CLF/DET  shirt

          ‘I know how to make shirts’.

    b.  Wohtaj    [tato    ay tzet   ch'alaxoj  jet      bay        chon    toj  tu'].         (Prop. complement)

          I.know     COMP is   what is.given   to.us  where  we.go ?      that

         ‘I know that they will give us something where we are going’.

(4) a.  I told him [to go].                                        (SoA complement)

       b. I told him [that she didn’t like him].    (Propositional complement)

It has also been used to capture contrasts between different kinds of nominalization, such as the contrast in (5) (e.g. Lees 1960: 59-73), Vendler (1967: 122-146; Fraser 1970):

(5) a.                   her singing of the aria              (SoA nominalization)

      b.                   her singing the aria                    (Propositional nominalization)

Importantly, the distinction has been associated with the distinction between the “major sentence types” declarative, interrogative and imperative. It has been argued that imperatives involve SoAs, while declaratives and possibly also interrogatives involve propositions (see Boye 2012: 199-206 for discussion). The distinction is of relevance not only to (possibly nominalized) clause type contrasts, however. Certain nouns may be described as designating SoAs (e.g. event, action), while others may be described as designating propositions (e.g. fact, proposal). Moreover, verb- or clause-level semantic categories may be distinguished according to whether they relate to propositions or SoAs. For instance, manner adverbs and non-epistemic modality are associated with SoAs (e.g. Hengeveld 1989), while it has been argued that evidentiality and epistemic modality are associated with propositions (Boye 2010b, 2012). Arguably, then, Proposition-SoA contrasts are pervasive in the world’s languages. Still, however, they remain heavily understudied.

Topics and issues covered

All aspects of Proposition-SoA contrasts are of relevance to the workshop, including the following.

1) Proposition-SoA contrasts in individual languages or language families or across language families:

e.g. nominalization contrasts, noun contrasts, contrasts in complement, adverbial and/or relative clauses.

2) Modelling the Proposition-SoA contrast:

As mentioned, propositions can be characterized as truth-valued predicational meaning units, and SoAs as non-truth-valued meaning units. But how should the contrast be understood more precisely? Is a cognitive linguistic conception preferable to a denotational one (as argued in Boye 2012), or vice versa, or is there an alternative to both of these options?

3) A typology of Proposition types and/or SoA types:

Can different types of Proposition types and/or SoA types be distinguished? For instance, is a distinction between fact- and non-fact propositions linguistically significant? How is the notion of SoA related to action types (Aktionsarten)?

4) Interaction with other semantic or grammatical categories:

What is the relationship between the Proposition-Soa distinction and distinctions such as that between Realis and irrealis? What is the relationship between the Proposition-SoA distinction and distinction between types of evidentiality or epistemic modality?

Cristofaro (2003) suggests that the Proposition-SoA distinction is related to the distinction between finite (or balanced) and non-finite (or deranked) dependent clauses. In a similar vein, Harder (1996) argues that the distinction is related to the distinction between tensed and non-tensed clauses. Is this the case? If so, why is this?


Boye, K. 2012. Epistemic meaning. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

Boye, K. 2010a. Reference and clausal perception-verb complements. Linguistics 48:2. 391-430. Boye, K. 2010b. Evidence for what? Evidentiality and scope. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 63.4. 290-307.

Craig, C. 1997. The structure of Jacaltec. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Cristofaro, S. 2003. Subordination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Dik, S. C. & K. Hengeveld. 1991. The hierarchical structure of the clause and the typology of perception-verb complements. Linguistics 29. 231-259.

Dixon R.M.W. & A. Y. Aikhenvald. 2006. Complementation: A cross-linguistic typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Fraser, B. 1970. Some remarks on the action nominalization in English. In Readings in English transformational grammar, R. A. Jacobs and P. S. Rosenbaum (eds.), 83-98. Waltham: Ginn and Company.

Harder, P. 1996. Functional semantics: A theory of meaning, structure and tense in English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Hengeveld, K. 1989. Layers and operators in Functional Grammar. Journal of Linguistics 25. 127-157.

Lees, R.B. 1960.The grammar of English nominalizations. Bloomington: Indiana University Research Center in Anthropology, Folklore, and Linguistics.

Loux, M. J. 1998. Metaphysics. London: Routledge.

Lyons, J. 1977. Semantics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Palmer, F.R. Modality and the English modals. London: Longman.

Perkins, M.R. 1983. Modal expressions in English. London: Frances Pinter.

Schüle, S. Perception verb complements in Akatek, a Mayan language. Dissertation. Tübingen: University of Tübingen.

Svenonius, P. 1994. Dependent nexus: Subordinate predication structures in English and the Scandinavian languages. Dissertation, Santa Cruz: California: University of California at Santa Cruz.

Sørensen, M.-L. L. & K. Boye. 2015. Vidensprædikatkomplementering. Ny Forskning i Grammatik.

Vendler, Z. 1967. Linguistics in philosophy. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

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