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Workshop: Modification of Complex Predicates

Call for papers

In this workshop we are concerned with the question of what modification reveals about the meaning and/or structure of complex predicates. With respect to idioms, modification allows one to distinguish between two classes of idiomatic expressions. Idiomatically combining expressions–in the sense of Nunberg et al. (1994)–license internal modification, a notion going back to Ernst 1981. In a case like (1), the adjective legal modifies part of the idiom.

(1) leave no legal stone unturned (Nunberg et al. 1994: 500)

Idiomatic phrases, on the other hand, reject such modification. Thus, in (2), the adjective modifies the whole expression, rather than part of the idiom.

(2) Carter doesn’t have a political leg to stand on. (Ernst 1981: 51)

Internal modification is seen as one piece of evidence in favor of a compositional analysis of idiomatically combining expressions (Nunberg et al. 1994) and also functions as support for a phrasal analysis of such expressions. Without such a compositional analysis of idiomatic expressions, it proves difficult to analyze how the modifier semantically integrates with the rest of the expression.

Complex predicates we hope to see addressed within the context of the workshop include (among others) idiomatic expressions and phrasal idioms, light verb constructions, verb-verb compounds, incorporation and pseudo-incorporation, and pseudo-coordination. Largely, we will take an informal view of what complex predicates are, with complex predicate roughly meaning constructions where two or more components with independent meaning come together to form a single joint predication.

With modification in mind, our workshop aims at investigating complex predications from this perspective, addressing (among others) questions related to

  • What types of complex predicates license internal modifiers, and why gaps exist in which predicates license internal modifiers
  • How modifiers are syntactically and semantically integrated into the complex predicates they modify
  • How and whether complex predicates license certain determiners (e.g., English give a/*the kiss), and how the meaning of the complex predicate is dependent on the choice of determiner
  • What restrictions exist on adverbs and adjectives that function as modifiers (e.g., whether certain classes of adjective such as relational adjectives are better internal modifiers)
  • Cross-linguistic comparisons of the potential for internal modification with complex predicates
  • How complex predicates are constructed and how modification can be used to gain insight into the construction of complex predicates
  • What internal modification tells us about compositionality in language, especially with respect to phenomena that, on the surface, look acompositional e.g., idiomaticity

We invite submissions for 30 minute talks (with 10 minutes for questions) that address the above-mentioned questions and other related questions from theoretical (semantic and/or syntactic) as well as experimental perspectives. In addition, abstracts focusing on corpus-based or typological work are highly invited.

Invited speakers: Berit Gehrke (Humboldt University Berlin) and Manfred Sailer (Goethe University Frankfurt)
Workshop dates: 23-24 May 2019
Where: Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf


Submissions should be no more than two pages, 12pt font, on A4 or US letter-sized paper, with 2.5cm or 1in margins. Abstracts must be submitted as a PDF, via the EasyChair link below.

Call for abstracts deadline: 7 January 2019
Notification: 15 February 2019
EasyChair link: http://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=mocp2018
Conference website: http://frames.phil.uni-duesseldorf.de/mocp2018-workshop/


Contact email: mocp2018@phil.hhu.de
Organization: Curt Anderson (Düsseldorf), Jens Fleischhauer (Düsseldorf), and Timm Lichte (Tübingen)

This workshop is funded by DFG Collaborative Research Center 991, “The structure of representations in language, cognition, and science.”