Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Slawistik und Hungarologie

Vorträge im Wintersemester 2020/21

Kolloquium Slawistische Linguistik


11.11.20 Radek Šimík & Jakub Sláma (Karls-Universität Prag): On evidential relative clauses: The case of Czech jak-relatives    

Czech has a range of strategies of forming headed relative clauses – relying either on the use of relative pronouns (který, jaký, jenž) or on the use of a complementizer (co, jak) and an (optional) resumptive. In this talk, we focus on the least studied and understood species – the jak-relatives, e.g. Honil toho medvěda, jak furt utíkal na ten sever ‘He chased the bear that kept running away to the north’. Building on and revising the somewhat isolated observation of Poldauf (1955), namely that a nominal referent modified by jak-relatives needs to be sensorily or mnemonically “accesssible” to both the speaker and the hearer, we argue that a jak-relative does not semantically intersect with its nominal head, but rather denotes an “identifying property” which helps identify a referent whose existence is presupposed. The property has a hearer-oriented evidential component – the speaker assumes that the hearer has evidence (direct or indirect) that the property (jak-relative denotation) holds of the nominal referent (head of the relative clause). We discuss the empirical consequences of the analysis and present relevant corpus evidence.


27.11.20 Boban Arsenijević (Graz): How arbitrary / deterministic is the thematic vowel assignment? Quantitative insights from Serbo-Croatian

(gemeinsame Arbeit mit Marko Simonović, Petra Mišmaš, Stefan Milosavljević, Jelena Simić, Lanko Marušič, Rok Žaucer) 

I will present preliminary results of joint research at the project Hyperspacing the verb, which investigates the interactions between syntactic, semantic, morphological and phonological properties of Serbo-Croatian (SC) and Slovenian verbs. The focus of the talk is on the assignment, i.e. realization, of thematic vowels in SC.
SC verbs are specified for two thematic vowels. Based on a database developed within the project, which encompasses the most frequent 6000+ SC verbs annotated for over 30 properties, we tackle the question whether, in combination or apart, these thematic vowels correlate with any other property of the verb. A preliminary quantitative assessment is reported and discussed. The conclusion is that no strict correlation can be established, but once the non-productive combinations are excluded – the picture gets close to a clean match.


9.12.20 Mojmír Dočekal & Lucia Vlášková (Brno): Grammatical ingredients of telicity: Czech degree achievements and their prefixes

The telicity behavior of degree achievements has been a puzzling problem for many linguists. The most successful and currently standard theory (Kennedy & Levin 2008) treats them as degree expressions based on different types of scales, which in turn influence the resulting telic or atelic interpretation. While it may account for English, this theory does not hold up cross-linguistically. We challenge the scalar theory with new Slavic data and show that verbal prefixes influence the (a)telic interpretation of degree achievements more than their underlying scales do. We hypothesize that the atelic/telic interpretation of the prefixed degree achievements is related to the unbounded/bounded algebraic denotation of the prefixes (following Zwarts 2005 and his theory of prepositional aspect).


18.12.20 Joanna Zaleska (HU Berlin): “Soft” and “hard” sequences in Polish: Insights from a language game experiment

The surface inventory of Polish contains two classes of segments that have each been claimed to have contextually determined variants standing in fully complementary distribution: (i) the so called “hard” and “soft” consonants (for example [p] and [pʲ]), and (ii) high unrounded vowels ([ɨ] and [i]). When segments from these two classes are put together into a consonant-vowel (CI) sequence, the quality of the consonant and the quality of the vowel have to match: sequences of “hard” consonants followed by [i] and of “soft” consonants followed by [ɨ] are disallowed. Thus, for example, [pʲi] and [pɨ] are well-formed, but [pʲɨ] or [pi] are not. In such sequences, the features representing the hardness/softness of the consonant and those differentiating between the two vowels are mutually dependent. This raises the question of which of the segments in the sequence is responsible for its quality. In this talk, I present a language game experiment aimed at identifying the locus of the hard–soft contrast in CI sequences and thus contributing to the long-standing debate concerning the phonemic status of the segments involved. The results of the study suggest that the quality of CI sequences is governed by the input quality of the vowel rather than that of the consonant: When “hard” sequences were separated, all segments were found to retain their quality; when “soft” sequences were separated, however, the consonants lost their softness. I conclude by discussing the utility of this methodology as a means of establishing phoneme inventories in light of theories of phonology that assume multiple levels of abstract representation.


8.1.21 Olga Kagan (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev): The Russian suffix -in: Singulativity and the mass-count distinction

In this talk, I investigate the properties of morphological mass-to-count and count-to-mass operators, by considering three uses of the Russian suffix -in, illustrated below:

(i) countizer: gorox - gorošina ‘pea (mass) - a pea’

(ii) singularizer: armjane - armjanin ‘Armenians - an Armenian’

(iii) massifier: kon’ - konina ‘horse - horsemeat’

The first two uses are sometimes referred to in the literature as singulative (Corbett 2000, Acquaviva 2008, Musatov 2015, Nurmio 2019). The countizer creates count stems/nouns out of mass ones. The singularizer marks the noun in which it appears as (count) singular. The third use is not generally discussed in their context and is informally described as contributing a ‘meat’ meaning component (Shvedova et al. 1980:190); however, I propose that it functions as a count-to-mass operator and as such reverses the contribution of countizer -in (i).

The talk puts forward a formal semantic analysis for each use of -in, raising the question of which instantiations of this suffix should be unified and which, on the opposite, have to be explicitly distinguished.


15.1.21 Petra Mišmaš & Marko Simonović (Nova Gorica & Graz): Why kl~kolj, br~ber, v~ved, but never kl~br or kolj~ber? Restrictions on the phonological shape of root allomorphs in Slovenian

Abstract (Probevortrag für Konferenz OCP)


20.1.21 Karolina Zuchewicz (HU Berlin): Aspect-dependent interpretation of clause-embedding predicates in Polish

It has been widely discussed in the literature that (im)perfectivity can have an impact on the interpretation of both verbal events and nominal complements. Whether aspectual properties of predicates access the meaning of other elements within the verbal phrase depends on the semantic class a verb can be ascribed to. An incremental relation between the verb and its object was shown to play a special role in the above-mentioned transfer of reference. In my talk I will concentrate on the impact of (im)perfectivity on the meaning of clausal complements. I will assume incrementality for certain clause-embedding predicates and show their similarities to incremental theme verbs that combine with nouns.


27.1.21 Moreno Mitrović (ZAS Berlin): A grammar of li & question bias

This talk concerns a cross-modular investigation into the grammar of rhetorical questions (RQs) with a negative bias in Ser-Bo-Croatian (BCS).

(Ex) Gdje (li) si?
       where (Q/κ) are
       "Where (the hell/the fuck) are you?"

Several results are reported: (I) while the BCS particle -li has been traditionally and uniformly treated an instantiation of a Q(uestion)-operator (aka κ-superparticle) featuring in polar questions, which also builds the disjunctive marker I-li (Mitrović 2021, int. al.), empirically novel facts are reported that cannot be accounted using standard entries, (II) a syntactic analysis is argued for and mapped onto a compositional semantic/pragmatic analysis that derives the the relevant meanings. A prosodic study is reported which shows that focus associating wh-pronouns in RQs show significantly different contours.


5.2.21 Teodora Radeva-Bork (Potsdam): Variable word order(s) in Slavic: Monolingual vs. heritage Bulgarian data



17.2. Ljudmila Geist & Sophie Repp (Köln): Yes- and No-responses to biased questions in Russian in comparison to German



24.2. Berit Gehrke (HU Berlin) & Marcin Wągiel (Brno): Non-conservative construals with percentages in Slavic

Recently, it has been observed that certain percentage quantifier (%Q) constructions give rise to conservative (C) as well as apparently non-conservative (NC) readings (Ahn & Sauerland 2015, 2017; A&S).

(1) MIT hired 30% of the women last year.            (conservative construal)

(2) MIT hired 30% womenF last year.                    (non-conservative construal)
     ~ 30% of the people that MIT hired last year were women.

Across the languages A&S discuss, the NC reading can correlate with the use of bare nominals (as opposed to definites), and A&S observe that in some languages (e.g. English) %Qs cannot appear in subject position ("subject-object asymmetry"; SOA). Their analysis crucially builds on the claim that NC %Qs are focus-sensitive (indicated by the subtyped F in (2)); however, they do not have an account fot the SOA.

Based on a broad cross-Slavic study, we show that both C and NC readings also exist in Slavic languages, even when the corresponding %Q constructions are morphosyntactically indistinct (as in the Slavic languages without definiteness marking). In addition, based on the collected evidence we argue against A&S's claim that NC %Qs are focus-sensitive. Instead, we propose that C and NC readings more generally involve different predicational structures, which also directly accounts for the SOA.


5.3. Anna Bondaruk (Lublin) & Ewa Willim (Kraków): Active transitive impersonals and the typology of Voice



17.3. Izabela Jordanoska (Villejuif, LLACAN): The five 'buts' of Macedonian and the typology of adversative coordinators

In this talk I compare the amount of variation in lexical items for adversative coordinators cross-linguistically. On the one hand of the spectrum, there are languages like English, which express every type of adversative coordination with the same lexical item, but. On the other hand, there are languages like Macedonian, which has separate lexical items for the four main uses that have been identified for adversative coordinators: tuku (corrective but), a (Semantic Opposition but), ama/no (Denial of Expecation / concessive but) and ama/ami (discourse marking but) (Lakoff 1971, Anscombre and Ducrot 1977, Jasinskaja 2012, Schiffrin 1987, Fielder 2008). Furthermore, the distribution of a in Macedonian (and other Slavic languages) partially overlaps with the distribution of and in English. Following the QUD-based approach in  Jasinskaja and Zeevat (2008), I show that the choice of adversative conjunction cross-linguistically can depend on two factors: i) whether the polarity of the second conjunct is the same or different from the polarity of the QUD that conjunct answers to and ii) whether both QUDs have the same topic.

26.3. Arkadiusz Kwapiszewski (Oxford): The Morphosyntax of Secondary Imperfectives: A Fusion-Based Account