Call for Papers


 Ljudmila Geist (Stuttgart)
 Giorgos Spathas (Stuttgart)
 Peter de Swart (Nijmegen)
This workshop is organized as part of the Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS)

Call for Papers


Invited speaker

The past few years have witnessed the rapid growth of literature explaining argument alternations such as dative alternation, locative alternation, conative alternation and antipassives. In such alternations semantic prominence is known to correlate with morphosyntactic prominence (Levin and Rappaport 1988: 25): the argument realized as a direct object is more semantically prominent than its oblique counterpart, which can be realized in a number of different ways depending on the type of alternation. The term “semantic prominence” comprises different features such as topicality, discourse accessibility and affectedness. Following predicate-decompositional approaches (Jackendoff 1976, Koenig and Davis 2006, inter alia), morphosyntactic differences such as direct/oblique can be traced back to different underlying event structures and depth of the embedding of the argument. Alternative approaches such as entailment-based approaches (Dowty 1991, Ackerman and Moore 2001) derive morphosyntactic prominence of arguments from the prototypicality of the thematic role: oblique arguments are “less prototypical” role fillers than direct objects. For Beavers (2010) “less prototypical” corresponds directly to underspecification of the thematic role.

In this workshop we want to explore different perspectives for capturing the relative semantic prominence of arguments in constructions allowing semantically induced argument alternations in different languages. In particular, we want to discuss the following issues:

  • What are the restrictions on the availability of particular alternations in terms of the verb classes and NP-types (e.g. animate, definite) that can be involved?
  • What types of “semantic prominence” are triggered by what alternations and why?
  • What is the semantic contribution, if any, of the oblique marker?
  • Are any of those alternations manifested also in nominalizations where internal arguments are already syntactically demoted?
  • Do morphosyntactic alternatives always differ in meaning?

We are interested in submissions that deal with the semantic underpinnings of alternating argument realizations and want to discuss the above issues from a variety of perspectives: theoretical and empirical, synchronic and diachronic, language specific and comparative.


Scientific Committee

  • Artemis Alexiadou (University of Stuttgart)
  • Martin Becker (University of Cologne)
  • Joanna Bɫaszczak (University of Wroclaw)
  • Susann Fischer (University of Hamburg)
  • Berit Gehrke (University Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)
  • Klaus von Heusinger (University of Cologne)
  • Helen de Hoop (Radboud University Nijmegen)
  • Jaklin Kornfilt (Syracuse University)
  • Silvia Kutscher (Humboldt University Berlin)
  • Roland Meyer (University of Regensburg)
  • Beatrice Primus (University of Cologne)
  • Antje Roßdeutscher (University of Stuttgart)
  • Stavros Skopeteas (University of Bielefeld)


Abstract submission

Abstracts are invited for 30-minute presentations (20 + 10 for discussion). Abstracts should be anonymous and at most 2 pages in length; author's information should be submitted in the accompanying e-mail.

Please send your abstracts electronically in pdf- and doc-format to indefiniteness 'at', and include your name, affiliation and the title of the abstract in the body of the e-mail.

The deadline for abstract submission is July 15th, 2012. Notification of acceptance will be sent in the first week of September, 2012.


The workshop “Perspectives on Argument Alternations” is organized as part of the 35. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft / Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS), to be held at the University of Potsdam, March 14-15, 2013.

Feb 4th, 2013