Last CfP: Non-Canonically Case-Marked Subjects within and across Languages and Language Families: Stability, Variation and Change johanna.barddal at UIB.NO
Fri Nov 11 17:07:30 UTC 2011

In collaboration with the Institute of Linguistics at the University of
Iceland, the IECASTP/NonCanCase project at the University of Bergen is
organizing a conference on "Non-Canonically Case-Marked Subjects
within and across Languages and Language Families: Stability,
Variation and Change"

Invited Speakers:

- Miriam Butt (University of Constance)
- Thórhallur Eythórsson (University of Iceland)
- Julie Ann Legate (University of Pennsylvania)
- Andrej Malchukov (Max Planck Institute, Leipzig)

Date: 4.-8. June 2012

Location: Reykjavík and Hótel Hekla (near Eyjafjallajökull)

Website 1: (under construction)
website 2:
Contact Person: Tonya Kim Dewey (University of Bergen)
Official Email: SubjectCase @

Last call for papers: Oblique, "quirky", or non-canonically case-marked
subjects have been the focus of enormous interest and massive research
ever since Andrews (1976) and Masica (1976). Early on, research in
this area was mainly carried out within the generative tradition, but
by now interest in oblique subjects has spread to all other frameworks
(cf. papers in Aikhenvald, Dixon & Onishi 2001, Bhaskararao & Subbarao
2004, and Malchukov & Spencer 2009). The attention has generally been
on the syntactic behavior of oblique subjects, such as their ability
to be left unexpressed in conjoined clauses and control infinitives,
their ability to figure in object and subject raising, and to control
reflexives, as well as on their word order properties (e.g. Sigurðsson
1991). Nevertheless, the validity of certain tests for subjecthood
remains controversial, especially in diachronic studies (e.g.
Eythórsson & Barðdal 2005).

Recent research has increasingly turned to the semantics of oblique
subjects, both within individual languages and within language
families. Barðdal et. al (2011), for instance, show that there is a
host of lexical-semantic verb classes associated with oblique subjects
in several of the ancient/archaic Indo-European languages, ranging
from experiencer, cognition, perception, and attitudinal predicates,
to all kinds of happenstance predicates and predicates denoting purely
relational and ontological states. Oblique subjects may also denote
possession, modality and evidentiality, as well as featuring in the
intransitive variant of causative pairs (anticausatives) in some
Indo-European languages (e.g. Cennamo, Eythórsson & Barðdal 2011). In
a wider typological perspective, it remains to be established which
semantic features are language-family-specific and which are generally
found cross-linguistically.

Given the central role that Icelandic has played in research on
oblique subjects (witness the classic paper by Zaenen, Maling &
Thráinsson 1985), Iceland is the obvious location for this conference.
The conference will start in Reykjavík, followed by a one-day tour in
Southern Iceland, visiting Thingvellir, Geysir, Gullfoss and other
places of great natural beauty and historical interest. The concluding
part of the conference will take place at Hótel Hekla, a charming
country hotel about 70 km east of the capital, Reykjavík, with a
marvelous view of (in)famous volcanoes such as Hekla and

We welcome contributions focusing on a specific language, language
family or cross-linguistic comparison, from different theoretical
frameworks, on all aspects of oblique subjects, synchronic, diachronic
and typological, including the following:

- The semantics of the oblique subject construction, for instance in
terms of lexical semantics, within a single language, or in a
comparative or a typological perspective
- The syntactic behavior of oblique subjects within a language, a
language family, or across languages
- The validity of particular tests for subjecthood, both in modern
languages as well as corpus languages (e.g. the older Indo-European
- The dichotomy between oblique subjects and subject-like obliques
which pass some, but perhaps not all, of the subject tests, and its
practical and theoretical implications
- The origin and emergence of non-canonical subject case marking
The potential role of oblique anticausatives in the emergence of
oblique subjects
- The syntax and semantics of oblique subjects in non-Indo-European languages

Please submit your abstracts of 500 words or less through, no later
than November 15th, 2011. A response on abstracts will be sent out on
December 15th, 2011.

           Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y., R.M.W. Dixon & M. Onishi (eds.). 2001.
Non-Canonical Marking of Subjects and Objects. Amsterdam: John
           Andrews, Avery D. 1976. The VP complement analysis in Modern
Icelandic. North Eastern Linguistic Society 6: 1-21.
           Barðdal, Jóhanna, Valgerður Bjarnadóttir, Eystein Dahl, Gard B.
Jenset & Thomas Smitherman. 2011. Reconstructing Constructional
Semantics: The Dative Subject Construction in Old Norse-Icelandic,
Latin, Ancient Greek, Old Russian and Lithuanian. Submitted to a
thematic volume in Studies in Language, entitled "Theory and Data in
Cognitive Linguistics", Nikolas Gisborne & Willem Hollmann (eds).
           Bhaskararao, Peri & K. V. Subbarao (eds.) 2004. Non-Nominative
Subjects. (2 vols.) (Typological studies in language 60-61.)
Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
           Cennamo, Michela, Thórhallur Eythórsson & Jóhanna Barðdal. 2011.
The Rise and Fall of Anticausative Constructions in Indo-European: The
Context of Latin and Germanic. Submitted to a thematic volume in
Linguistics, entitled "Typology of Labile Verbs: Focus on Diachrony",
Leonid Kulikov & Nikolaos Lavidas (eds).
           Eythórsson, Thórhallur & Jóhanna Barðdal. 2005. Oblique Subjects:
A Common Germanic Inheritance. Language 81(4): 824-881.
           Malchukov, Andrej & Andrew Spencer (eds.). 2009. In The Oxford
Handbook of Case. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
           Masica, Colin P. 1976. Defining a Linguistic Area: South Asia.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
           Sigurðsson, Halldór Ármann. 1991. Icelandic Case-Marked PRO and
the Licensing of Lexical Arguments. Natural Language and Linguistic
Theory 9: 327-362.
           Zaenen, Annie, Joan Maling & Höskuldur Thráinsson. 1985. Case and
Grammatical Functions: The Icelandic Passive. Natural Language and
Linguistic Theory 3: 441-483.

Jóhanna Barðdal
Research Associate Professor
Coeditor of the Journal of Historical Linguistics
Department of Linguistic, Literary and Aesthetic Studies
University of Bergen
P.O. box 7805
NO-5020 Bergen
johanna.barddal at

Phone +47-55582438 (work)
Phone +47-55201117 (home)
Fax   +47-55589660 (work)

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list