Workshop proposal - Partitives

M.M.Jocelyne FERNANDEZ-VEST m.m.jocelyne.fernandez-vest at VJF.CNRS.FR
Mon Oct 12 01:28:15 UTC 2009

Dear colleagues

Could you please sende your sle workshop proposal again?
I saw it on my iPhone but it never reached my ordinary Mac!


M.m.Jocelyne.fernandez-vest at

Envoyé de mon iPhone

Le 11 oct. 2009 à 09:27, Silvia Luraghi <silvia.luraghi at UNIPV.IT> a  
écrit :

> Partitives
> Silvia Luraghi, Università di Pavia
> Tuomas Huumo, University of Tartu
> We plan to submit a workshop proposal to the 2010 Annual SLE  
> (Societas Lingustica Europaea) Meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania (2 - 5  
> September, 2010), and invite papers on partitives in crosslinguistic  
> perspective. Please send draft abstracts to both of us no later than  
> November 8, 2009 (final abstracts must be submitted by January 1,  
> 2010) at the following addresses:
> silvia.luraghi at
> tuomas.huumo at
> Workshop description
> Some languages, notably Baltic Finnic and Basque, have a partitive  
> case, which is usually said to indicate partial affectedness of  
> patients (cf. Blake 2001: 151). Such function is also attributed to  
> other cases in languages that do not have a separate partitive, as  
> in the case of the Hungarian partitive/ablative, and the partitive/ 
> genitive of various Indo-European languages (a separate partitive,  
> lexically restricted, also exists in Russian).
>    Depending on the language, the use of partitives may be more or  
> less restricted. In Basque, for example, the partitive occurs in  
> negative sentences and it can indicate either the object of  
> transitive verbs or the subject on intransitive verbs (in other  
> words, it can substitute the absolutive case in negative sentences).  
> A connection between negation and partitive(genitive) also occurs in  
> the Slavic and the Baltic Finnic languages. The alternation between  
> the partitive and other cases sometimes also has connections with  
> aspect: this has been argued for Baltic Finnic, Slavic (see e.g.  
> Fischer 2004), and possibly Sanskrit (Dahl 2009). In fact,  
> partitivity is not only a possible feature of patients: in Finnish  
> existentials, for examples, even agentive intransitive verbs such as  
> juosta ‘run’, opiskella ‘study’, etc., take partitive subject 
> s.
>    In some Indo-European languages, besides partitive objects and  
> partitive subjects (mostly with unaccusative verbs, cf. Conti 2009  
> on Ancient Greek), partitive adverbials also exist, for example in  
> time expressions (such as Nachts ‘during the night’ in German).  
> In Ancient Greek, some locative occurrences of the partitive genitiv 
> e are attested (see Luraghi 2003, 2009):
> è#   halòs     è# epì gês
> or  sea:gen or on  land:gen
> “either at sea or on land” (Homer, Od. 12.26-27).
>    In one of the few existing cross-lingustic description of  
> partitives, Moravcsik (1978: 272) summarizes typical semantic  
> correlates of partitives as follows:
> a. the definitness-indefinitness of the noun phrase;
> b. the extent to which the object is involeved in the event;
> c. the completedness versus non-completedness of the event;
> d. whether the sentence is affirmative or negative.
>    Moravcsik further remarks that marking difference brought about  
> by the partitive “does not correlate with any difference in semantic 
>  case function”. Thus, the use of the partitive seems to be at odds  
> with the basic function of cases, that is “marking dependent nouns f 
> or the type of relationship they bear to their heads” (Blake 2001: 1 
> ): rather than to indicate a specific grammatical or semantic relati 
> on that a NP bears to the verb, the partitive seems to indicate inde 
> terminacy (in various manners). In fact, this has been noted by seve 
> ral authors. For example, Laka (1993: 158) suggestes that “what is r 
> eferred to as ‘partitive case’ in Basque is a polar determiner,  
> much like English any”.  In Finnish, the functions of the partitive  
> are also related to indeterminacy, unboundedness and polarity, and i 
> t is noteworthy that the partitive is not the sole marker of any gra 
> mmatical function but participates in a complementary distribution w 
> ith other cases in all its main functions, i.e. as marker of the obj 
> ect (PART~ACC), the existential subject (PART~NOM) and the predicate 
>  nominal (PART~NOM).
>    In this connection, one must mention the so-called partitive  
> article of some Romance varieties, which derives from the  
> preposition which has substituted the Latin genitive (Latin de). In  
> French, the partitive article is clearly a determiner and not a case  
> marker, as shown by its distribution:
> L’enfant joue dans le jardin / un enfant joue dans le jardin
> the child plays in the garden / a child plays in the garden
> Les enfants jouent dans le jardin / des enfants jouent dans le jardin
> the childred play in the garden / some(=part. art.) childred play in  
> the garden
>    The brief survey above shows that there are striking similarities  
> among partitives across languages, which are not limited to the  
> indication of partial affectedness. However, reaserch on partitives  
> is mostly limited to individual languages. In this workshop we would  
> like to bring together and compare data from different languages in  
> which a case (or an adposition, as in French) are classified as  
> partitive.
> Possible topics for the workshop include, but are not limited to,  
> the following:
> (a) The distribution of partitives in different syntactic positions  
> (objects, subjects, other roles) and across constructions;
> (b) Partitives as determiners;
> (c) Types of verbs with which partitive subjects (or objects) can  
> occur;
> (d) The diachrony of partitives: what are the sources of partitive  
> markers? What is the diachronic relation between ablative, genitive,  
> and partitive? (cf. Heine and Kuteva 2002: 32-33, 241);
> (e) Do partitives always start out as possible substitutes for the  
> object case and then extend to subjects and possibly to other roles?  
> (data from French and other early Romance varieties would be in  
> order regarding this point);
> (f) Partitives as non-canonical grammatical markers: Finnish  
> partitive subjects and objects have been treated under the heading  
> of ‘non-canonical marking’ (Sands and Campbell 2001). However, it  
> is highly questionable that the occurrence of partitive subjects and 
>  objects marked by a partitive article, as in French, should also be 
>  considered under this heading. Is the change from case marker (incl 
> uding adpositions) some kind of grammaticalization process and at wh 
> at stage should a morpheme start to be considered a determiner, rath 
> er than a case marker?
> (g) Discourse functions of partitives: Since partitives indicate  
> indeterminacy, it might be expected that they are not topical  
> elements in discourse. For instance, Helasvuo (2001) has shown that  
> the referents of Finnish partitive subjects (unlike those of  
> nominative subjects) are typically not tracked in discourse. What is  
> the discourse function of partitives crosslinguistically?
> (h) Semantic roles and referential functions of partitives.
> (i) Partitives, aspect and quantification: The Baltic Finnic  
> partitive object is well-known for its function of indicating  
> aspectual unboundedness. Other BF partitives (existential,  
> copulative) do not share the aspectual function proper but often  
> indicate an incremental theme (in the sense of Dowty 1991), which  
> gives rise to unbounded “nominal aspect” (Huumo 2003, 2009). What  
> are the aspectual and quantificational functions of partitives cross 
> linguistically?
> References
> Blake, Barry 2001. Case. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
> Conti, Luz 2008. Zum Genitiv bei impersonalen Konstruktionen im  
> Altgriechischen. Paper read at the XIII. Fachtagung der  
> Indogermanischen Gesellschaft, Salzburg 22.9.-27.9.2008.
> Dahl, Eystein 2009 Some semantic and pragmatic aspects of object  
> alternation in Early Vedic. In J. Barðdal and S. Chelliah (eds) The  
> Role of Semantics and Pragmatics in the Development of Case. Amsterd 
> am: John Benjamins
> Dowty, David 1991. Thematic proto-roles and argument selection.  
> Language 67, 547–619.
> Fischer, Susann 2004. Partitive vs. Genitive in Russian and Polish:  
> an empirical study on case alternation in the object domain. In S.  
> Fischer, R. van de Vijver and R. Vogel (eds.), Experimental Studies  
> in Linguistics. I, LiP 21. 123-137.
> Heine, Bernd and Tania Kuteva 2002. World Lexicon of  
> Grammaticalization. Cambridge: CUP.
> Helasvuo, Marja-Liisa 2001. Syntax in the Making: The emergence of  
> syntactic units in Finnish conversation. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
> Huumo, Tuomas 2003. Incremental Existence: The World According to  
> the Finnish Existential Sentence. Linguistics 41/3: 461–493
> Huumo, Tuomas 2009. Fictive dynamicity, nominal aspect, and the  
> Finnish copulative construction. Cognitive Linguistics 20/1: 43–70.
> Laka, Itziar 1993. Unergatives that Assign Ergative, Unaccusatives  
> that Assign Accusative. MITWPL 18: 149-172.
> Luraghi, Silvia 2003. On the Meaning of Prepositions and Cases. A  
> Study of the Expression of Semantic Roles in Ancient Greek.   
> Amsterdan: Benjamins.
> Luraghi, Silvia 2009. The internal structure of adpositional  
> phrases. In J. Helmbrecht Y.  Nishina, Y.M. Shin, S. Skopeteas, E.  
> Verhoeven, eds., Form and Function in Language Research: Papers in  
> honour of Christian  Lehmann. Berlin/ New York, Mouton de Gruyter,  
> 231-254.
> Moravcsik, Edith 1978. On the case marking of objects. In Joseph  
> Greenberg et al. (eds.) Universals of Human Language, vol IV.  
> Syntax. Stanford University Press, 249-290.
> Sands, Kristina and Lyle Campbell 2001. Non-canonical subjects and  
> objects in Finnish. In A. Aikenvald, R. M. W. Dixon, and M. Onishi  
> (eds.) Non-canonical Marking of Subjects and Objects. Amsterdam:  
> Benjamins, 251-305.
> Silvia Luraghi
> Dipartimento di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata
> Università di Pavia
> Strada Nuova 65
> I-27100 Pavia
> telef.: +39-0382-984685
> fax: +39-0382-984487
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