27.3815, Calls: Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Germany

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LINGUIST List: Vol-27-3815. Tue Sep 27 2016. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 27.3815, Calls: Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Germany

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Date: Tue, 27 Sep 2016 12:41:18
From: Hedde Zeijlstra [hzeijls at uni-goettingen.de]
Subject: Workshop on the Meaning of Past Tense Morphology

Full Title: Workshop on the Meaning of Past Tense Morphology 

Date: 19-Dec-2016 - 21-Dec-2016
Location: Göttingen, Germany 
Contact Person: Hedde Zeijlstra
Meeting Email: hzeijls at uni-goettingen.de

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics; Syntax; Typology 

Call Deadline: 20-Oct-2016 

Meeting Description:

In typical cases, past tense morphology simply marks that the event expressed
by the verb or predicate is located prior to the time of utterance: 

(1) John had a car (last year / *next year).

But this is not always the case. For example, in the embedded clause of (2),
the past tense conveys, in its prominent reading, that the embedded clause
expresses that the car owning holds at the time of John’s dream. In such
Sequence-of-Tense (SoT) cases, the contribution of past tense appears vacuous;
note that it can be replaced by present tense, John dreamed he has a car,
which has a different reading.

(2) John dreamed he had a car.

In other cases, past tense seems to express something different than reference
to the past. In counterfactual conditionals like (3)a, the past tense in the
antecedent conveys that she does not own a car right now, as opposed to (3)b.

a. If she had a car now, she could drive to school.
b. If she has a car now, she can drive to school.

Sometimes, past tense is compatible with reference to times in the future. In
some languages, past tense morphology may be used in imperatives, even though
imperatives, being performative (cf. Han 1998, Schwager 2005, Grosz 2011,
a.o.), generally require a present or future interpretation. And finally, past
tense morphology can sometimes convey particular speech acts.

The apparently divergent semantic contribution of past tense morphology has
received a large amount of study with respect to counterfactual conditionals
and SoT. In contrast, the other three phenomena have not been investigated
into much detail.  

What is remarkable, however, is that these phenomena have almost always been
analysed independently from each other, not as a uniform property of past
tense morphology. Hence what is needed is an overarching perspective on past
tense morphology that covers all usages, including those that seem to deviate
from past tense reference.

Moreover, the cross-linguistic variation with respect to the meaning of past
tense morphology has not been systematically investigated. Counterfactual
conditionals have only been investigated in detail for a small number of
languages (English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Hindi);
the discussion on cross-linguistic variation with respect to SoT focuses
primarily on English, Russian, Hebrew and Japanese, and a few related
languages. However, establishing the range of cross-linguistic variation is a
necessary ingredient for any theory of form-meaning (mis)matches, since it
forms strong diagnostics in determining what constraints this variation is
subject to and why this should be so.

A reason why an overarching theory of the syntax and semantics of past tense
morphology is lacking is that, as of yet, it has not been investigated whether
the phenomena outlined below, in particular counterfactual conditionals
exploiting past tense morphology and SoT effects, are cross-linguistically
independent or whether they are correlated. If theories of tense morphology
take these phenomena to be independent from each other, this should naturally
have typological consequences: it is then expected that they are not
correlated (unless such a correlation would receive a separate explanation).
If they are typologically related, this would call for a more integrated
theory of past tense morphology. Hence, typological research can be used as an
empirical testing ground to evaluate different theories of the semantics of
past morphology.

Invited Speakers (confirmed so far):

Daniel Altschuler
Kees Hengeveld 
Sabine Iatridou

Call for Papers:

The workshop discusses questions like the ones raised above and calls for
papers that address:

- The usage of past tense morphology in counterfactual conditionals,
Sequence-of-Tense constructions, or other constructions whose meaning does not
straightforwardly follow from the semantics of past tense
- Cross-linguistic discussions or descriptions of the (unexpected) meaning of
past tense morphology 
- Correlations between different types of (unexpected) past tense usages. For
instance, is that usage of past tense morphology in counterfactual
conditionals in any way related to the availability of Sequence-of-Tense

Abstracts should be anonymous, and submissions are limited to 2 per author, at
least one of which must be co-authored. They must not exceed two pages,
including data, references and diagrams. The font should be at least 11-point,
with one-inch margins. They should be submitted as pdf-documents through
EasyChair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=pasttense16.

Submission deadline: October 20, 2016

Notification: November 1, 2016


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