[RNLD] Workshop on precautionary clauses / apprehensives, SLW8, 3-5 Sept 2018

Eva Schultze-Berndt Eva.Schultze-Berndt at manchester.ac.uk
Tue Dec 19 00:48:20 EST 2017

--- This workshop may be of particular interest to those working on lesser described languages. Apologies for cross-posting. ----

Lest we miss them: precautionary clauses aka. lest-clauses, apprehensive, avertive & in-case clauses…
Adjacent workshop at the Syntax of the World’s Languages 8 conference, Paris 3-5 September 2018: 

Conference website: https://swl8.sciencesconf.org
Workshop page: https://swl8.sciencesconf.org/resource/page/id/6

Marine Vuillermet (DDL-CNRS, Lyon)
Eva Schultze-Berndt (U Manchester)

Submission of abstracts:
Abstracts are solicited for 20-minute presentations (plus 10 minutes for discussion). Please follow the instructions for abstract submission found on the conference website https://swl8.sciencesconf.org/resource/page/id/1. Remember to include the name of the workshop in your submission. Deadline: 31 January 2018.

Worskhop description:
The topic of this workshop are precautioning clauses, i.e. subordinate clauses encoding an undesirable event that is to be avoided, indicated by specialised markers, as in (1). 

(1) Ese Ejja (Vuillermet to appear)
E-’bakwa    iñawewa  iña   po-ani, (...) [e’bio=wasijje   e-poki       kwajejje].
NPF-child  dog           grab be-PRS       jungle=ALL     PREC-go   PREC
‘The child is grabbing the dog [lest it go to the jungle].’

Precautioning clauses systematically associate with an explicit preemptive clause, typically with assertive (1) or directive illocutionary force (2). Lichtenberk (1995) further subdivides the PRECAUTIONING function into the AVERTIVE (2a) and IN-CASE functions (2b). The two differ in that there is a direct causal link between the two propositions only in the former but not in the latter. Many authors describe precautioning clauses as “negative purpose clauses” even though such a term does not cover the IN-CASE function.

(2) a. Take your umbrella lest you get wet / so that you won’t get wet.
b. Take your umbrella lest/in case it rains / ??so that it won’t rain.

An example of a dedicated precautioning morpheme is the (archaic) lest in English also illustrated in (2). Though such specialised constructions seem to be rare in the Eurasian and African areas (Vuillermet 2015; Schmidtke-Bode 2009: 130), they are not rare cross-linguistically: Schmidtke-Bode (2009) identifies them in 19 out of 80 languages, and a recent survey of 56 South American languages reports 18 languages with precautioning clauses (Vuillermet 2017). 

Languages with no dedicated morphology still have numerous precautioning strategies, marked by connectives such as ‘if not+might’, ‘otherwise’, and ‘before’ as in Put the milk into the fridge before it goes off. These may or may not be restricted to undesirable consequences. The notion of undesirability may also arise, somewhat surprisingly, from morphemes that originally only encode possibility (Pakendorf & Schalley 2007) or temporal sequence (Angelo & Schultze-Berndt 2016). 

The precautioning morphemes identified in Schmidtke-Bode’s (2009: 130ff.) typological study on purpose clauses do not belong to a particular syntactic category – they may be e.g. conjunctions, adverbials, adpositions, or TAM markers. Precautioning clauses tend to have their own specific argument structure configurations: explicit subjects are significantly more frequent in such clauses than in positive purpose clauses. This follows from the pre-cautioning clauses’ overwhelming preference for different subjects (36.9% vs. 5.8% in positive purpose clauses). It probably reflects the fact that undesirable consequences mostly originate in a third party, while welcome ones are often self-triggered.

In addition to the semantic subtypes, internal syntactic structure, and morphological marking of precautioning clauses, a major issue in the existing literature has been the potential difficulty of distinguishing between their dependent or independent syntactic status (e.g. Austin 1981: 229; François 2003: 304-310), due to the close pragmatic link to a pre-emptive clause. 

The workshop will bring together scholars primarily working on lesser-known languages to study the crosslinguistic variation of precautioning clauses with a focus on the topics mentioned above. Thanks to descriptions of the forms, syntactic strategies and seman-tic profiles of such clauses in individual languages, families or areas, the workshop will pave the way for a typology of such constructions. 

A longer version of the workshop description (references included) and guidelines for abstract submission are available on the conference website, https://swl8.sciencesconf.org.

Eva Schultze-Berndt
Professor of Linguistics
Linguistics and English Language
School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
The University of Manchester
Oxford Road
M13 9PL
Manchester, UK
E-mail: eva.schultze-berndt at manchester.ac.uk
Office NG11, Samuel Alexander Building

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