announcement of diachronic syntax workshop

Björn Wiemer Bjoern.Wiemer at UNI-KONSTANZ.DE
Fri Mar 5 09:45:46 UTC 2004

Dear ALT members,
I would like to announce an additional workshop for the IV Role&Reference 
Grammar meeting in Dublin this year. (Have a look at
         The announcement follows below and is contained in the attachments.

Best ,
Björn Wiemer.

2004 International Role and Reference Grammar Conference

Applications of RRG in diachronic syntax

The workshop addresses two topics. The first one pursues to bring together 
descriptive work on diachronic syntax which has been done in the RRG 
framework up to day. The second, and central, topic of the workshop aims at 
highlighting in which way RRG is able to contribute substantially to the 
examination (maybe also explanation) of processes occurring diachronically 
in the (morpho-)syntax of diverse languages (or language groups). If we 
take a look at the global “algorithm” reflecting the linking mechanism 
between semantic and syntactic representation in RRG (see Fig. 4.9 in Van 
Valin&LaPolla 1997: 177), we notice that diachronic changes in the grammar 
(i.e. morphosyntax) of languages can be captured only by the 
language-specific part of this algorithm and the role played by the 
Actor-Undergoer-hierarchy (because grammatical rules refer only to 
macroroles). Languages differ as to the range of specific semantic roles 
which can be treated as an Actor or an Undergoer. We might therefore ask 
how language-specific constraints in the treatment of argument positions 
come about and what triggers them. What we need to capture, then, is the 
relationship between the Layered Structure of the Clause (as representing 
language-specific manners of coding) and the structure of lexical entries.

More specific questions as the following ones should thus be discussed 
during the workshop:

1.            Alternations of morphological cases and/or of prepositions 
and diachronic changes affecting such alternations (is it the lexicon which 
is under change or rather the rules of the linking mechanism?). In 
particular, is “exceptional case marking” really exceptional, or is it 
eventually subject to rules (which may “shrink” or be extended diachronically)?

2.         How can discrepancies between syntactic and semantic 
(in)transitivity be generalized? How can they be explained from a 
diachronic viewpoint?

3.         How do constructions grammaticalize? It is basically the 
interface between semantic and pragmatic relations and the syntactic 
organization (the Layered Structure of the Clause, LSC) which is central to 
the whole theory. In particular, how do ‘restricted neutralizations’ 
(pivots and controllers) arise?

4.         Are certain types of changes in grammatical constructions 
unidirectional (or tend to be so)?

5.         How does a former extra-core slot develop into a part of the 
Core and, thus, become more tightly integrated into the language’s syntax?

6.         In which way does the gradual integration of material from the 
Periphery and extra-core positions into clausal and core-syntax correlate 
(and change) with the projection of focus structure?

7. How do prenuclear focus positions arise? Are the first entities to 
occupy this position always WH words? (Analogous questions could be put 
regarding other positions of the LSC.)

8.         Can we formulate an equivalent of restricted neutralizations for 
information structure (focus constructions)?

Contributions should last 20-25 minutes (+ discussion time). Abstracts are 
expected to be sent to the organizer of the conference 
(<mailto:Brian.Nolan at>Brian.Nolan at and of the 
(<mailto:Bjoern.Wiemer at>Bjoern.Wiemer at until 
March, 15th, 2004.

A more elaborated version of this sketch is available from the organizer of 
the workshop. Please request!

Privatdozent Dr. Björn Wiemer
Universität Konstanz
FB Sprachwissenschaft / Slavistik
Postfach 55 60, D 179
D- 78457 Konstanz

Tel.: ++49/ 7531/ 88 -2582
Fax: ++49/ 7531/ 88 -4007
Tel. (privat): ++49/ 7531/ 6 77 73
e-mail: Bjoern.Wiemer at
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