[Lingtyp] CfP SLE Workshop Multifunctionality and syncretism in non-finite forms

Ksenia Shagal ksenia.shagal at gmail.com
Wed Oct 23 07:51:52 UTC 2019

*** Apologies for cross-posting ***

Dear colleagues,

we would like to draw your attention to the call for papers for the
workshop on multifunctional non-finite forms, which (if accepted) will take
place during the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea
in Bucharest, August  26-29, 2020.

With best wishes,
Ksenia Shagal, Pavel Rudnev, and Anna Volkova

*Multifunctionality and syncretism in non-finite forms*
Deadline for preliminary abstract submission: November 15, 2019

This workshop aims at discussing multifunctionality in the domain of
non-finite verb forms. Cross-linguistically, it is common for non-finite
forms to occur in a variety of dependent clauses performing different
functions. For example, as can be seen from Cristofaro’s (2003) data, in
the majority of cases, non-finite forms used for adnominal modification are
not specific to this function, but can be found in other subordinate
constructions as well (see also Hendery 2012: 171). Van Lier (2009:
206–210) shows that in a genealogically and geographically balanced sample
of 50 languages all logically possible combinations of functions are
attested, i.e. reference function, adnominal modification, and adverbial
modification. For instance, the nominalization in -n- in Kayardild
(Tangkic), an example of the most flexible form, can function as a
predicate of a relative, a complement, or an adverbial clause (Evans 1995:
474–476). Forms that combine the function of predicate of a relative clause
with that of predicate of a complement clause are especially common
(Koptjevskaja-Tamm 1993: 42‒44; Shibatani 2009).

Thus, we believe that these phenomena merit special attention. In
particular, the workshop aims to investigate to what extent the internal
syntax of non-finite clauses headed by these multifunctional forms is
determined by their external syntax as realized in distinct grammatical
functions, and vice versa. For example, in Kalmyk (Mongolic), participles
show differences in argument marking depending on the type of dependent
clause in which they occur: participial relative clauses have a genitive
(or in some cases nominative) subject, while complement clauses headed by
the same forms require a subject in the accusative. In Muna (Austronesian),
nominalizations in ka- behave differently in reason clauses if compared to
the argument function. In reason clauses, they take a specialized
non-finite negator and combine with a future marker, while in the argument
function they take a constituent negator and no TAM markers whatsoever (van
den Berg 2013: 144, 211).

The existence of such multifunctional forms and patterns of syncretism
implies a certain degree of categorial continuity which poses serious
challenges to theories postulating an inventory of discrete lexical
categories (see Baker 2011; Kiparsky 2017 for similar observations),
especially the most restrictive ones appealing to just two basic lexical
categories of, roughly, noun and verb. On the other hand, those formal
theories which dispense with lexical categories altogether by viewing
categorization as a byproduct of how functional elements and acategorial
lexical elements are put together seem to predict a certain amount of
variability and continuity (cf. Halle & Marantz 1993, Borer 2005, Caha
2007, among others), but require additional constraints to exclude rare or
unattested patterns. In this regard, multifunctional non-finite forms
present an ideal testing ground when choosing between lexicalist and
non-lexicalist approaches. As regards the forms themselves, their identity
is frequently taken — at least in non-lexicalist frameworks —  to be the
result of underspecification, formalized in terms of Halle’s (1997) Subset
Principle or, conversely, the Superset Principle of nanosyntax (Caha 2007;
see Lundquist 2008 for an analysis of multifunctional non-finite forms in
Swedish along these lines).

The questions that we plan to discuss at the workshop include the following:
● What functions are typically combined in one non-finite form? Are there
constraints on multifunctionality, and if so, then what are they?
● What kind of differences can multifunctional forms show depending on the
function they perform (e.g. differences in TAM expression or argument
● What sets multifunctional forms apart in comparison to dedicated
(specialized) forms, that is, participles, infinitives, converbs or
nominalizations? If not all of the non-finite forms in a language show
multifunctionality, which are most likely to be multifunctional? Relatedly,
what, if anything, stops the remaining forms from being multifunctional?
● Can any observations be made regarding the frequency distributions of
different functions for specific forms? In other words, if a form can be
used in several types of non-finite dependent clauses, do the frequencies
tend to be evenly distributed across contexts, or is the distribution
typically skewed in favour of one function?
● Do languages with multifunctional non-finite forms tend to have any
particular properties in other domains of grammar?
● Is multifunctionality of non-finite forms more common in certain
geographical areas than in others, and if so, where is it most commonly

We invite contributions from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives,
both functional and formal. We particularly welcome submissions on
understudied or underdocumented languages provided they offer an explicit
and substantial theoretical contribution to the issue at hand. Possible
topics for submissions may include (but are not limited to) the following:
● In-depth case studies of multifunctional non-finite forms in individual
● Typological studies on the properties and distribution of multifunctional
non-finite forms;
● Formal and functional approaches to the identity of form and diversity of
● Quantitative studies of multifunctionality within individual languages
and cross-linguistically.

We aim to develop papers presented at this workshop into a collective
volume discussing different aspects of multifunctionality in non-finite

*Call for papers*
Preliminary abstracts of no more than 300 words (excluding references) in
.doc, .docx, .rtf or .odt format should be sent before November 15, 2019,
to ksenia.shagal at gmail.com. Any questions or suggestions regarding the
workshop are very welcome as well.

If the workshop is accepted, it will take place at the 53rd Annual Meeting
of the Societas Linguistica Europaea in Bucharest, August 26–29, 2020 (for
more information on the conference see http://sle2020.eu/). All preliminary
workshop participants will be invited to submit their full abstracts before
January 15, 2020.

Baker, Mark. 2011. Degrees of nominalization: Clause-like constituents in
Sakha. Lingua 121(7): 1164–1193.
Berg, René van den. 2013 [1989]. A grammar of the Muna language (Summer
Institute of Linguistics e-Books 52). Summer Institute of Linguistics
Borer, Hagit. 2005. Structuring sense. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Caha, Pavel. 2007. The superset principle. Unpublished ms, University of
Cristofaro, Sonia. 2003. Subordination (Oxford Studies in Typology and
Linguistic Theory). Ox-ford: Oxford University Press.
Evans, Nicholas. 1995. A grammar of Kayardild: with historical-comparative
notes on Tangkic (Mouton Grammar Library 15). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Halle, Morris. 1997. Distributed morphology: Impoverishment and fission. In
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30: 425–449.
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study (LOT Dissertation Series 221). Utrecht: LOT.
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