P-Workshop 2012

13. Juli 2012

Zeit: 13. – 14. Juli 2012
Veranstaltungsort: Universität Stuttgart
Building K1, Campus Stadtmitte
Keplerstraße 11
70174  Stuttgart
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Workshop description

Germanic languages have productive mechanisms that form complex verbsout of simple verbs and particles or prefixes; and many of thoseparticles and prefixes apparently correspond to prepositions(so-called p-elements). Particle- and prefix-verb formation involvingp-elements has been subject to extensive debates in the syntacticliterature and, more recently, also in semantics.From a semantic perspective, the ways in which p-elements combine withverbs show a lot of variation, and one of the tasks of a theory of thesyntax and semantics of p-verbs is to identify these differentpatterns. A further issue is that both p-elements and the verbs thatthey combine with are typically ambiguous or polysemous whenconsidered on their own. More often than not these ambiguitiesdisappear when p-element and verb combine: the combining process willeliminate all but one of the different meanings of the elements thatare being combined. So a second task for an account of p-verbs is toexplain how this kind of filtering of unwanted readings functions. Athird issue is that the formation of p-verbs is (like word formationgenerally) only 'semi-productive': So a third task for theories ofp-verbs is to identify the (semi-)productive combination patternswithin a wide range of data 'contaminated' by countlessidiosyncrasies.

Dealing with these tasks presupposes answers to the followingquestions:

  • How to represent the basic constituents of p-verb constructions?

In the work of Svenonius (2003, and subsequent work) P's with the samesemantic content can appear both as heads of prepositional phrases andas particles; but because PP heads and particles play different rolesin the syntactic structures of which they are part, the meanings theyshare make different contributions to the semantics of thosestructures (crucial to this account is Svenonius' split-P hypothesis;see also Van Riemsdijk 1991). Investigations in the same spirit havebeen undertaken in the framework of Ramchand (2008), Ramchand andSvenonius (2002), and Romanova (2007) for Russian prefix verbs.

All these studies explicitly or implicitly raise the question:

  • To what extent can/must semantic differences be analyzed in terms of structural differences that are part of syntax?

This question is also a topic of debate within Distributed Morphology(DM; Halle/Marantz 1993, Marantz 2006). Some of the work within DMseems motivated by the implicit assumption that the semantics of verbsand their projections is fully determined by their internal syntacticstructure and the ('encyclopaedic') semantics of their roots (Borer2005).

There are however also a number of phenomena that are morespecifically connected to p-verbs:

  1. Sometimes the argument structures of p-verbs differ from those of their base verbs.
  2. Sometimes the same p-element and base verb can be combined into p-verbs with distinct argument structures. In some such cases the p-verbs differ in meaning, in others they do not.
  3. Also, in some such cases the p-verbs differ in their morpho-phonetic properties.

Further topics of interest for the workshop arise from across-linguistic perspective: For instance, Germanic and Slavic languages appear to differ in thatprefixation in the latter has an (ineradicable) impact on aspect. InPolish, and also in other Slavic languages, prefix verbs typicallydiffer from their base verbs in that the latter express imperfectiveaspect and the former perfective aspect (Mylarczyk2004). Nevertheless, although Polish has prefixes that make a purelyaspectual contribution to the semantics of the prefix verbs containingthem, there are others that contribute to the verbs containing themall or some of the semantics they share with the correspondingprepositions. The general question suggested by such cross-linguisticcomparisons is to what extent prefixation operations in differentlanguages follow universal principles and to what extent thoseprinciples are language-specific. 


Invited speakers (in alphabetical order)


Accepted talks (in alphabetical order)


Scientific committee (in alphabetical order)

  • Artemis Alexiadou
  • Boris Haselbach
  • Hans Kamp
  • Marcel Pitteroff
  • Antje Roßdeutscher
  • Florian Schäfer


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The workshop is organized by the projects B1, B4, and B6 with in theDFG-funded SFB 732 Incremental Specification in Context at University of Stuttgart.

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