Workshop on Variation and Change in the Verb Phrase

The Language Change Research Group organizes a two-day workshop on Variation and Change in the Verb Phrase, 5-6 December 2019. All are welcome to come and listen to one or more of the talks!

The Language Change Research Group organizes the two-day workshop Variation and Change in the Verb Phrase. The focus of this workshop is on syntactic change in the verbal domain, ranging from changes at earlier language stages to recent and ongoing changes in typologically different languages. The purpose of the workshop is to bring together researchers who work on verbal syntax from a historical perspective from different theoretical orientations.


Time and Place:           December 5-6, 2019, University of Oslo


 Keynote Speakers:      Elena Anagnostopoulou (University of Crete)

                                     Peter Petré (University of Antwerp)


Datives, Genitives and passives in the history of Greek                                                       Elena Anagnostopoulou (University of Crete)                                                                       Joint work with Christina Sevdali, Ulster University

In this talk, I will compare the properties of dative and genitive objects in Classical vs. Modern Greek. Based on the difference in behavior of dative/genitive objects of ditransitives and monadic transitives in the two periods of Greek which correlates with a range of systematic alternations in the case realization of Modern Greek IO arguments depending on the presence and category (DP vs. PP) of lower theme arguments, I will argue that there are two distinct modes of dative and genitive objective case assignment: they are either prepositional or dependent (structural) cases, as also proposed by Baker & Vinokurova (2010), and Baker (2015) on the basis of cross-linguistic evidence. If we adopt this proposal a number of important implications follow both for the syntax of Modern Greek genitive indirect objects and for the understanding of the change from Classical to Standard Modern Greek which must be seen as a development from a grammatical system where dative and genitive were lexical/inherent/prepositional cases to a system where genitive is a dependent case assigned to DPs in the sense of Marantz (1991). Interestingly, the development from Classical Greek (CG) to Modern Greek (MG) affected the availability of dative/genitive-nominative alternations in passivization, in the opposite direction of what might be expected, i.e. such alternations were possible in CG and are no longer possible in MG. I will address this puzzle and will argue that the availability of such alternations is not always a diagnostic tool for detecting whether an indirect object DP bears lexically specified or structural/dependent Case, contra standard practice in the literature. In the final part of the talk, I will attempt to identify and critically discuss some key stages in the development from the Classical Greek to the Modern Greek system. 


Many people’s grammars, nobody’s grammar. Grammaticalization of auxiliary constructions as emergent in the community

Peter Petré (University of Antwerp)

Starting from the assumption that language is a complex adaptive system, I show how macroproperties of grammaticalizing constructions are an unintended effect of intentional individual interactions. I will look at three developments in 17th and 18th century English as represented in 50 prolific writers (brought together in the EMMA-corpus): (i) the extension of 'be going to' to mark imminent future; (ii) the emergence of a copular function of 'get' (as in 'he got angry'); (iii) the increasing productivity of prepositional passives. For each of these I will present evidence that individuals continue to innovate/adopt innovations beyond adolescence, but do so in different ways, depending on, among other things, their age and community of practice. These different shades of adopting innovations lead to a higher degree of variation, which in turn prepares the construction for a further leap in the grammaticalization process taken by later-born individuals.  



For more information about the workshop and details about the program, visit our website.


Published Aug. 22, 2019 11:23 AM - Last modified Dec. 2, 2019 1:15 PM