Workshop on nominal juxtaposition

Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm tamm at LING.SU.SE
Sun Jan 28 11:42:21 UTC 2001


WORKSHOP: Nominal juxtaposition as a morpho-syntactic phenomenon.

As part of the Seventh Himalayan Languages Symposium (Uppsala 
University, Sweden, 7-9 September 2001), I am organizing a workshop 
on nominal juxtaposition in Himalayan languages.

Whereas the English NP  "a cup of tea" involves an overt marker "of" 
to relate the two nominals, "cup" and "tea", its Swedish counterpart, 
"en kopp kaffe", lacks any such marker and may count as a 
construction involving nominal juxtaposition. We find prototypical 
instances of nominal juxtaposition when

 there are two nominals in contiguity with each other

 the whole combination is a syntactic construction

 there is no overt segmental marker for relating the two nominals to 
each other

 whereas intonation and word order are crucial
A nominal here refers to a noun, a noun with various modifiers or a 
noun phrase.
Juxtaposition on the whole has hardly received any attention in 
theoretical, primarily non-functional, linguistics. Significantly, it 
is not even mentioned in the index of the phenomena considered in 
Asher's (ed.)  "The international encyclopaedia of languages in 
linguistics".  A quick glance through the indices in a score of books 
on various syntactic and morphological theories gave no result 
either. For morphology, juxtaposition is not interesting simply 
because there is no overt marking involved, whereas the focus of most 
syntactical theories has been on various processes and the like, much 
more than on marking or the absence thereof.
	Absence of overt material for the expression of a certain 
content has otherwise been discussed in other connections. Thus, zero 
morphemes within larger paradigms constitute one of the traditional 
interests within various morphological theories; whereas syntactic 
theories abound with empty categories and syntactic zeroes and are 
pre-occupied with accounting for their distribution and various other 
	This lack of interest in nominal juxtaposition is, however, 
hardly justified. In particular, nominal juxtaposition seems to be 
universal and occurs in languages which otherwise are structurally 
very different. The aim of the workshop is to shed light on this 
phenomenon in the Himalayan languages, and cross-linguistically.

	The workshop is intended to focus on questions such as these:

 In what functions nominal juxtaposition can be used in one language 
and across languages? For instance, in possessive NPs (Peter's 
house), modificational NPs (a stone house), pseudopartitives (a cup 
of tea), coordination (mother and brother), nominal predication 
(Peter is my brother), apposition (my brother Peter) etc.

 What other means can be used for relating two nominals to each 
other in the same language? What factors motivate the choice of a 
juxtapositional construction as opposed to the other types of nominal 
constructions in the language?

 Can we find cross-linguistic generalizations on the use of 
juxtapositional constructions as opposed to constructions involving 
other morpho-syntactic means?

 How can nominal juxtaposition be delimited from other phenomena, 
such as compounding, on the one hand, or simple contiguity of two 
nominals which together do not build any constituent?

 What is the role of intonation in juxtapositional constructions?

 How does juxtaposition emerge? Juxtapositional constructions abound 
in child language, pidgins, foreigner talk and other language 
varieties which are characterized by morpho-syntactic simplicity; in 
these cases juxtaposition has not undergone any grammaticalization at 
all.  On the other hand, there are clear instances of developments 
whereby overt morpho-syntactic markers gradually disappear and where 
juxtaposition is the final product of grammaticalization. What do we 
know about the history of juxtaposition in particular cases? Is there 
any way for distinguishing between the two different instances?

We welcome all contributions taking juxtaposition seriously - 
detailed descriptions of the relevant phenomena in one particular 
Himalayan language, cross-linguistic studies, theoretical 
discussions, historical essays etc. Abstracts of one page, including 
author's name and affiliation, title of the paper, mailing address, 
and e-mail address, should be submitted to Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm by 
February 2001 at the addresses below. Please indicate the desired 
length of your talk (15 min - 30 min - 45 min).

Workshop organization and contact information:
Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm
Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University
106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
E-mail: tamm at
Fax: +46-8-155389

Deadline for abstracts: 20 February 2001.

News about the Seventh Himalayan symposium (including the workshops) 
is posted on the symposium's Web page at

Maria Koptjevskaja Tamm
Dept. of linguistiscs, Stockholm university			Vaesterled 166
106 91 Stockholm, Sweden					167 
72, Bromma, Sweden
Tel.: +46-8-16 26 20					Tel.: +46-8-26 90 91

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