[Lingtyp] workshop 49th SLE: The crosslinguistic diversity of antipassives: function, meaning and structure

Katarzyna Janic Katarzyna.Janic at univ-lyon2.fr
Fri Oct 16 11:20:49 UTC 2015


49th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, 31st August - 3rd September 2016

Title: The crosslinguistic diversity of antipassives: function, meaning and structure 

Convenors
Katarzyna Janic (Laboratory Dynamique du Langage: Université Lyon 2 / CNRS)
Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (University of Kiel)

Workshop aims
This workshop aims at bringing together linguists working within different theoretical frameworks in order to update our understanding of the cross-linguistic diversity of the antipassive and antipassive-like constructions across the world’s languages. This includes such aspects as morphosyntactic properties of the arguments of the antipassive construction, the antipassive verbal markers, morphosyntactic factors determining the structural realization of antipassives, as well as the functions these constructions perform crosslinguistically.

Workshop background
The term antipassive refers to a derived detransitivized construction illustrated in (1):

(1) West Greenlandic (Eskimo, Eskimo-Aleut; Keenan & Dryer 2007: 359)
        a.  arna-p                               niqi-∅                       niri-vaa
                 woman-ERG            meat-ABS            eat-IND.3SG.3SG
                ‘The woman ate the meat.’
        b. arnaq-∅                         niqi-mik                 niri-NNig-puq
                woman-ABS           meat-INS            eat-ANTIP-IND.3SG
              ‘The woman ate meat.’

On the syntactic level, the antipassive (1b) is derived from the corresponding transitive predication (1a) by means of the antipassive suffix -NNig attached to the verbal root niri ‘eat’. The semantic patient (niqi-∅ ‘meat-ABS’) loses its properties of a core argument. The peripheral status of this argument is indicated by the instrumental case -mik (niqi-mik ‘meat-INS’) and the lack of indexing on the verb in (1b). Additionally, the antipassive operation modifies the coding properties of the agent: it is no longer marked with the ergative case, as in (1a) and in the unmarked absolutive case instead. Semantically, the antipassive is often regarded as being synonymous with the transitive predication (Foley 2007). The semantic affinity between transitive and antipassive constructions is conventionally reflected by identical or similar translations, as in (1a) vs. (1b).

The antipassive construction is often characterized by the following properties (cf. Polinsky 2005):
a) the patient-like argument (or P) of the corresponding transitive predicate has lost some or all of its morphosyntactic properties of a core argument
b) the agent-like argument (or A) acquired some morphosyntactic properties usually associated with S (or sole argument)
c) the reassignment of semantic argument roles to syntactic functions is usually indicated on the verb (e.g. by an affix)

The term antipassive was originally introduced by Silverstein (1972) to emphasize the structural similarity of this construction to the passive. Consequently, the antipassive is often regarded as a mirror image of the passive in a sense that in the passive the demoted (or omitted) argument is the agent-like argument, whereas in the antipassive it is the patient-like argument that loses its properties of a core argument.

Up to now, the literature on detransitivizing operations primarily focused on the more familiar passive construction: while numerous studies have been published on the passive (Siewierska 1984; Shibatani 1988; Taranto 2004; Abraham & Leisiö 2006; Lyngfelt & Solstad 2006; Alexiadou & Schäfer 2013), not a single book-length on the antipassive has appeared. Given how much progress has been made recently in the study of linguistic diversity and the increasing accessibility of modern descriptive grammars, it is time to systematically update our understanding of the antipassive constructions, its morphosyntactic properties, distributional patterns across the world’s languages and functional motivation. Below some aspects relevant to the proposed workshop will be briefly introduced.

Typological studies on antipassives started with Silverstein’s (1976) work, positing the existence of an implicational relation between language particular morphosyntactic alignment and individual detransitivizing operations. The passive is regarded as a characteristic of languages with primarily nominative-accusative case alignment. By contrast, the antipassive is considered to be a hallmark of languages with traits of ergative alignment. Even though there is nothing in Silverstein’s (1972) study that would exclude the possibility of the existence of the antipassive in well-behaved accusative languages, it has become textbook wisdom that this phenomenon is primarily associated with languages with ergative traits (e.g. Payne 1997: 219). Still, there is more and more agreement among the linguists that antipassive can be recognized in primarily accusative languages e.g. (2). Unlike in the transitive construction (2a), in the antipassive (2b), the verb carries a verbal marker se due to the present of which the patient (nouveau chapitre ‘new chapter’) is demoted to an oblique position. Its peripheral status is marked syntactically by the preposition à. Since French is a well-behaved accusative language, there is no difference in the coding of the agent (doctorant ‘PhD student’).

(2)     French (Janic 2013b: 185)
        a.    Le     doctorant                     attaque                             un         nouveau          chapitre.
                  the     PhD.student          start.3SG.PRS         a             new                     chapter
                 ‘The PhD student starts a new chapter.’

    b.     Le     doctorant                    s’           attaque                                à                         un         nouveau     chapitre.
                the     PhD.student          SE         start.3SG.PRS         PREP         a             new                       chapter
               ‘The PhD student starts a new chapter.’

One of the goals of this workshop is thus to collected further evidence for the existence of the antipassive construction in primarily accusative languages.

Previous research distinguishes two main functions of antipassive. The semantic /pragmatic one serves to indicate that the action expressed by the verb shows lower semantic transitivity. This can be related to the properties of object (e.g. identity or affectedness), in addition to properties of a predicate (e.g. aspects) (cf. Hopper and Thompson 1980; Bittner 1987; Cooreman 1994; Polinsky 2005). The syntactic function consists in the promotion of the agent in order to act as pivot for various syntactic operations. Unlike the semantic/pragmatic function, the latter has only been identified in languages with syntactic ergativity where antipassive is used to overcome syntactic restrictions imposed on various operations such as coordination, interrogation, negation etc. Additionally, in some languages the antipassive may also express lexical functions (cf. Grinevald-Craig 1979; England 1988; Tsunoda 1988).

Another line of research focused on the morphological realization of the antipassive. Polinsky (2005) focuses on the question of whether or not a language has a specialized antipassive verbal marker, i.e. a morpheme whose function is limited to the antipassive alone. The question of dedicated antipassive marker in languages with nominative-accusative marking pattern has been recently discussed by Creissels (2012); Janic (2013a, Janic 2013b) and Bostoen et al. (2015). Since a dedicated antipassive marker may be diachronically associated with other functional domains (e.g. aspect, middle/reflexivity, reciprocity, causativity), there is also a great deal of variation in the polyfunctionality and patterns of polysemy displayed by antipassive markers across the world’s languages that have not been discussed yet in detail.

A number of gaps in the research on the antipassive can be identified: the acknowledge that the antipassive is a topic worthy of study beyond the scope of ergativity; scarcity of detailed studies of antipassive verbal marker (e.g. presence vs. absence of a verbal marker, distinction between specialized vs. polyfunctional antipassive marker, the diachronic development of the antipassive markers); the limitation of the study of antipassives to the formal features, without providing systematic semantic description of this construction, this made many linguists fail to acknowledge the existence of the implicational relationship between semantics of a construction and its syntactic realization and how they interact and function in discourse. Finally, the fact that in some languages the antipassive may be lexically restricted or present subtle lexical difference in meaning between transitive and antipassive verbs has largely been ignored in the discussion of the antipassive phenomenon.

The proposed workshop is intended to bring together scholars interested in various aspects of the antipassive construction in individual languages and typological variation of antipassive constructions. Possible topics of the workshop will include, but are not limited to, the following:

• the morphosyntactic properties of the arguments of the antipassive construction, i.e. the properties acquired by the A argument and the properties lost by the P arguments, e.g. Kiranti languages (Bickel et al. 2007);
• restrictions and on the use of antipassives, such as the obligatory use of antipassive with non-referential patient observed in some Mayan languages (Grinevald-Craig 1979; England 1988);
• lexical and grammatical restrictions on antipassive formations;
• antipassive constructions in primarily non-ergative languages;
• functional motivation for the use of antipassive constructions;
• markedness of antipassive constructions;
• nature and sources of antipassive verbal markers;
• diachronic development of the antipassive construction.

We invite you to submit an abstract of up to 500 words related to the topics outlined above.
Please send your proposal as a PDF-file to the following address:

Katarzyna.Janic at univ-lyon2.fr

The deadline for the submission of the abstract is November 15, 2015.

Abstracts will be evaluated by the convenors, and selected abstracts will accompany the workshop proposal. We will notify you of inclusion in the workshop proposal when we submit it on November 25. Note that if the workshop has been accepted, you will also have to submit a full abstract and submit it to be reviewed by the SLE scientific committee. The deadline for the submission of full abstracts is January 15, 2016. For further information, please refer to the SLE meeting webpage at http://sle2016.eu/call-for-papers.

 
References
Abraham, W., Leisiö. L. 2006. Passivization and typology: form and function. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Alexiadou, A., Schäfer. F. 2013. Non-canonical passives. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Bickel, B., M. Gaenszle, A. Rai, P. D. Rai, Sh. K. Rai, V. S. Rai, and N. P. Sharma (Gautam). 2007. Two ways of suspending object agreement in Puma: between incorporation, antipassivization, and optional agreement. Himalayan Linguistics 7, 1-18.
Bittner, M. 1987. On the semantics of the Greenlandic antipassive and related constructions. International Journal of American Linguistics, 53 (2), 194–231.
Bostoen, K., Dom, S., Segerer, G. 2015. Antipassive in Bantu. Linguistics, 53 (4), 731–772.
Cooreman, A. 1994. A functional typology of antipassives. In Fox, B. and Hopper, P. J. (eds.), Voice: form and function. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 49–88.
Creissels, D. 2012. The origin of antipassive markers in West Mande languages. 45th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. 29 August–1 September, 2012, Stockholm, Sweden.
England, N. C. 1988. Mam voice. In Shibatani M. (ed.), Passive and voice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 525–545.
Foley, W. 2007. A typology of information packaging in the clause. In Schopen, T. (ed.), Language typology and syntactic description. Vol. I: Clause structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 362–446.
Grinevald-Craig, C. 1979. The antipassive and Jacaltec. In Martin, L. (ed.), Papers in Mayan Linguistic, Vol. 2. Columbia, MO: Lucas Brothers Publishers, 139–164.
Hopper, P. J., Thompson S. A. 1980. Transitivity in grammar and discourse. Language, 56 (2), 251–299.
Janic, K. 2013a. The Slavonic languages and the development of the antipassive marker. In Kor-Chahine, I. (ed.), Current studies in Slavic linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 61–74.
Janic, K. 2013b. L’antipassif dans les langues accusatives. PhD Thesis. Université Lyon 2.
Keenan, E. L., Dryer, M. S. 2007. Passive in the world’s languages. In Schopen T. (ed.), Language typology and syntactic description. Vol. I: Clause structure. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 325–361.
Lyngfelt, B., Solstad. T. 2006. Demoting the agent: passive, middle and other voice phenomena. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Payne, T. E. 1997. Describing morphosyntax: a guide for field linguists. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Polinsky, M. 2005. Antipassive constructions. In Haspelmath, M, M. S. Dryer, D. Gil, and B. Comrie. (eds.), The world atlas of language structures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 438–439.
Shibatani, M. 1988. Passive and voice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Siewierska, A. 1984. The passive: a comparative linguistic analysis. London: Croom Helm.
Silverstein, M. 1972. Chinook Jargon: language contact and the problem of multilevel generative systems, part I. Language 48 (2), 378–406.
Silverstein, M. 1976. Hierarchy of Features and Ergativity. In Dixon, R. M. W. (ed.), Grammatical categories in Australian languages. Canberra: Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 112–171.
Taranto, G. C. 2004. An event structure analysis of causative and passive get. Manuscript. University of California, San Diego.
Tsunoda, T. 1988. Antipassive in Warrungu and other Australian languages. In Shibatani M. (ed.), Passive and voice. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 597–650.

------------------------------------------------------------------
Katarzyna JANIC
Docteur en Sciences du Langage
Bureau 224S
Tel : 04 72 72 64 65

Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (UMR 5596)
Institut des Sciences de l'Homme
14 avenue Berthelot
69 363 Lyon

http://www.ddl.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr/annuaires/janic

https://independent.academia.edu/KJanic

------------------------------------------------------------------
Katarzyna JANIC
Docteur en Sciences du Langage
Bureau 224S
Tel : 04 72 72 64 65

Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (UMR 5596)
Institut des Sciences de l'Homme
14 avenue Berthelot
69 363 Lyon

http://www.ddl.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr/annuaires/janic

https://independent.academia.edu/KJanic

------------------------------------------------------------------
Katarzyna JANIC
Docteur en Sciences du Langage
Bureau 224S
Tel : 04 72 72 64 65

Laboratoire Dynamique Du Langage (UMR 5596)
Institut des Sciences de l'Homme
14 avenue Berthelot
69 363 Lyon

http://www.ddl.ish-lyon.cnrs.fr/annuaires/janic

https://independent.academia.edu/KJanic
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