SKY symposium on subject: Final call for papers

Seppo Kittilä sepkit at UTU.FI
Tue Apr 2 08:43:04 UTC 2013

(Apologies for multiple postings)

Final call for papers:
The Linguistic Association of Finland (SKY) organizes a symposium on:
Subject: cognitive, typological and functional approaches
Helsinki, September 12–14, 2013
Grammatical subject is a central notion in linguistic theories. Subjects have been studied across multiple theoretical frameworks, and defined from various perspectives, including, for example, feature-based (Keenan 1976), construction-based (Goldberg 1995), and cognitive-based (Langacker 2008). While there is no doubt that in many languages subjects constitute a core element of grammar, there is no general agreement on how to define them in and across languages, what conditions the way in which subjects are expressed, and what functions they have in discourse. Furthermore, there are numerous languages that lack the idea of a grammatical subject altogether, and the assignment of semantic roles to the constituents of discourse is conditioned by pragmatics and discourse structure.
The aim of this symposium of the Linguistic Association of Finland is to bring together linguists from different fields who work on subjects within cognitive, functional, typological, and interactional approaches. Contributions are expected to be data-driven, and the discussion of theoretical issues is appreciated to the extent that it helps to elucidate the data and remains accessible to linguists working within other theoretical approaches as well.
The invited speakers are:
 Jóhanna Barðdal (University of Bergen)
 Pekka Posio (University of Helsinki)
 Catherine E. Travis (Australian National University, Canberra)
Possible topics for talks include (but are not restricted to) the following:
· Definitions of subject in different theoretical frameworks: feature-based, construction-based and cognitive definitions (Keenan 1976; Goldberg 1995; Langacker 2008), relation between subject and topic and subject-prominent vs. topic-prominent languages (Li & Thompson 1976)
 · Languages with variable subject expression (e.g. null-subject and pro-drop languages), different marking strategies, information structure, and choice of referring expressions in the subject position (Kibrik 2011; Dryer 2011; Posio 2012)
 · Non-referential and vague subjects, for instance in the sense of reference reducing impersonals (Siewierska & Papastathi 2011; Malchukov & Ogawa 2011)
 · Grammaticalization of subjects and subject pronouns (Shibatani 1991; Heine & Song 2011)
 · Discourse functions of subjects; differences between deictic and anaphoric subjects (Scheibman 2002; Travis & Torres Cacoullos 2012)
 · Subjects in typology; the universality of subject as a grammatical relation (LaPolla 1993); prototypical and non-canonical subjects
 · Syntax and semantics of subjects in and across languages: subjects and semantic roles; the role of subjects in argument structure (Shibatani 1977; Van Valin & LaPolla 1997; Levin & Rappaport Hovav 2005)
Abstract submission:
Anonymous abstracts, no more than 500 words, excluding data and references, should be submitted by April 15, 2013. The abstracts must be anonymous. They will be evaluated by the organizing committee and by the members of the scientific committee. Notifications of acceptance will be announced by May 20, 2013. The talks will be 30 minutes long: 20 min for presentation and 10 min for discussion. In addition, there will be a poster section.
Please submit your abstract via EasyAbs available at:
Proposals for workshops should be submitted no later than April 1, 2013. Workshop proposals will be evaluated by the organizing committee. Notification of acceptance will be given by April 8, 2013. The symposium organizers will provide the lecture rooms and other facilities, but the workshop organizers will be responsible for the organization of their workshops (such as choosing the speakers).
Organizing committee:
Chair: Leena Kolehmainen (University of Eastern Finland), Sonja Dahlgren (University of Helsinki), Vesa Jarva (University of Jyväskylä), Meri Larjavaara (Åbo Akademi University), Tommi Nieminen (Unversity of Eastern Finland), Santeri Palviainen (University of Oulu), Hanna Parviainen (University of Tampere) and Erika Sandman (University of Helsinki).
Scientific committee:
Denis Creissels (University of Lyon)
Pål K. Eriksen (National Library of Norway, Oslo)
Marja-Liisa Helasvuo (University of Turku)
Tuomas Huumo (University of Turku)
Laura Janda (University of Tromsø)
Marja Järventausta (University of Cologne)
Jae Jung Song (University of Otago)
Andrej A. Kibrik (Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow)
Seppo Kittilä (University of Helsinki)
Andrej Malchukov (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)
Maria Vilkuna (Institute for the Languages of Finland)
Camilla Wide (University of Turku)
Registration fee:
 ·         100 €
 ·         members of the association: 80 €
 ·         students 50 €
Important dates:
 Abstract submission deadline: April 15, 2013
 Notification of acceptance:  May 20, 2013
 Proposals for workshops: April 1, 2013
 Notification of workshop proposals: April 8, 2013
 Early registration starts: June 1, 2013
 Deadline for registrations: August 15, 2013
 Conference dates: September 12–14, 2013
For further information, see
For all correspondence concerning the symposium, please contact:
 subject-2013 at
Dryer, Matthew S. 2011. Expression of pronominal subjects. In Matthew S. Dryer & Martin Haspelmath (eds.), The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Max Planck Digital Library, Munich. Chapter 101. Available online at
Goldberg, Adele 1995. Constructions. A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Heine, Bernd & Song, Kyung-An 2011. On the grammaticalization of personal pronouns. Journal of Linguistics 47: 587–630.
Keenan, Edward 1976. Towards a universal definition of subject. In Charles N. Li (ed.). Subject and Topic. New York: Academic Press: 305-334.
Kibrik, Andrej A. 2011. Reference in Discourse. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.
Langacker, Ronald W. 2008. Cognitive Grammar. A Basic Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
LaPolla, Randy J. 1993. Arguments against ‘subject’ and ‘direct object’ as viable concepts in Chinese. Bulletin of the Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica 63 (4): 759-813.
Levin, Beth & Malka Rappaport Hovav 2005. Argument Realization. Research Surveys in Linguistics Series, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Li, Charles N. & Sandra A. Thompson 1976. Subject and topic: a new typology of language. In Charles N. Li (ed.). Subject and Topic. London/New York: Academic Press: 457-489.
Malchukov, Andrej & Ogawa, Akio 2011. Towards a typology of impersonal constructions. A semantic map approach. In Malchukov, Andrej & Siewierska, Anna (eds.) Impersonal Constructions. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins: 17-54.
Posio, Pekka 2012. Who are ‘we’ in spoken Peninsular Spanish and European Portuguese? Expression and reference of first person plural subject pronouns. Language Sciences 34(3): 339–360.
Scheibman, Joanne 2002. Point of View and Grammar: Structural Patterns of Subjectivity in American English Conversation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Seo, Seunghyun 2001. The Frequency of Null Subject in Russian, Polish, Czech, Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian: An Analysis According to Morphosyntactic Environments. Doctoral dissertation, Indiana University.
Shibatani, Masayoshi 1977. Grammatical relations and surface cases.
 Language 53: 789–809.
Shibatani, Masayoshi 1991. Grammaticization of topic into subject. In
 Bernd Heine & Elizabeth Closs Traugott (eds.) Grammaticalization .
 Amsterdam: John Benjamins: 93–133.
Siewierska, Anna & Maria Papastathi 2011. Third person plurals in the languages of Europe: typological and methodological issues. Linguistics 43(2): 575–610.
Travis, Catherine E. & Torres Cacoullos, Rena 2012. What do subject pronouns do in discourse? Cognitive, mechanical and constructional factors in variation. Cognitive Linguistics 23 (4): 711-748.
Van Valin, Robert D. and LaPolla, Randy J. 1997. Syntax: Structure, Meaning, and Function. Cambridge textbooks in linguistics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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