Grammatical Universals

Usage-based explanation of universal coding asymmetries in grammar

This project (officially called “Form-frequency correspondences in grammar”, or FormGram), headed by Martin Haspelmath, has received funding from the ERC (European Research Council) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no 670985).

For more information on the project, see this page: Grammatical Universals Project.

Project activities

• Upcoming conference talks

(for Leipzig seminar talks, see “Seminar“)

September 2017

Sep 2-6: Summer school lectures by Martin Haspelmath on grammatical universals, at Moscow (Voronovo) summer school “Typology and Lexicon

Sep 8: Plenary talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at the Summer School of the SLE, University of Neuchâtel: Principled hybridization in creole languages

Sep 8-9: Summer school lectures by Karsten Schmidtke-Bode at the SLE Summer School (University of Neuchâtel): Usage-based linguistics and language typology

Sept 10: Conference talk by Ilja A. Seržant, at University of Zürich: Differential object markers and datives. 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. 10–13 September 2017.

Sep 10: Conference talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at University of Zürich: Asymmetry in path coding: Creole data support a universal trend . 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea. 10–13 September 2017.

Sep 18-22: Conference talk by Ilja A. Seržant, at University of Jena: The development of verbal person indexes in Indo-European languages  als Vortrag in der Sektion Indogermanistik auf dem 33. Deutschen Orientalistentag (DOT) 2017

November 2017

Nov 16:  Conference talk by Ilja A. Seržant, at INaLCO (Paris): The Diachronic Typology of Differential Object Marking. Workshop “Diachrony of Differential Object Marking”, November 16-17, 2017. URL: http://home.uni-leipzig.de/serzant/CfP_DOM.Diachrony_Paris.2017_final.pdf

December 2017

Dec 12-15: Association for Linguistic Typology conference Canberra, Workshop on typological databases coorganized by Martin Haspelmath

January 2018

Jan 10: Invited talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at the Freie Universität Berlin, Forschungskolloquium der romanistischen Sprachwissenschaft: Typology of creole languages.

• Past talks

July 2017

Jul 12: Workshop talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena: Explaining the features of creole languages: Language shift and the division of labor between substrates and lexifiers. DLCE Workshop “Language shift and substratum interference in (pre)history”

Jul 2017: Conference talk by Karsten Schmidtke-Bode at the 3rd Usage-Based Linguistics Conference (Jerusalem): Processing typology and cross-linguistic variation in NP structure: An assessment of Hawkins’ efficiency predictions

Jul 13: Workshop talk by Martin Haspelmath, at the Workshop “Markedness: Perspectives in Morphology and Phonology“, University of Frankfurt/Main: Architects vs. engineers: Making markedness function

June 2017

Jun 3-30: Guest lectures by Susanne Maria Michaelis on creole languages, Chaire Internationale Labex-EFL (Paris, INALCO)

Jun 8-11: Workshop talk by Martin Haspelmath: The DNA and evolution of languages. Workshop on “Variation and universals in language”, Crecchio (Abruzzo)

Jun 19: Workshop talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at University of Tampere: Asymmetry in path coding: Creole data support a universal trend. Annual Summer Conference of the Society for Pidgin and Creole Linguistics, 19-22 June 2017.

Jun 19: Workshop talk by Martin Haspelmath: Language typology: The Humboldtian and the Greenbergian traditions. FU Berlin workshop on the occasion of Wilhelm von Humboldt’s 250th birthday, Berlin.

April 2017

Apr 7: Invited talk by Ilja A. Seržant, at University of Zürich: The dynamics of Greek prepositions (with the main focus on perì ‘about’): corpus-based approach. URL: http://www.agenda.uzh.ch/record.php?id=33510&group=82;public

March 2017

March 2: Workshop talk (Journée créole) by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at Regensburg University: Asymmetric coding of allatives and ablatives in creole languages

March 8-10: Workshop (AG) on coding asymmetries and usage frequency at DGfS Annual Meeting Saarbrücken, with talks by Martin Haspelmath, Natalia Levshina, Karsten Schmidtke-Bode, Ilja Seržant

March 9: Conference talk by Karsten Schmidtke-Bode at the DGfS Annual Meeting (University of Saarbrücken): Signal reduction at clause boundaries: Towards a typological systematization.

March 10: Conference talk by Ilja A. Seržant at University of Saarland. Towards functional motivation for the reduced third person indexing. 39. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft. URL: http://dgfs2017.uni-saarland.de/wordpress/arbeitsgruppen/ag-5/

March 16: Keynote presentation by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at the Fourth International Conference on Language Contact in Times of Globalization (LCTG4), at Greifswald University: Explaining the features of creole languages: Language shift and the division of labor between substrates and lexifers

March 24: Workshop talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at the Eleventh Creolistics Workshop at Gießen University: Independent possessive person-forms are longer: Creole data support a universal trend

March 28: Conference talk by Karsten Schmidtke-Bode at the Vielfaltslinguistikkonferenz (Leipzig University and Nikolai-Lab): Seeking patterns in diversity: On the use of intragenealogical samples in typological research.

March 28: Workshop talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis, at the Vielfaltskonferenz (Leipzig University & Nikolai-Lab) : Asymmetry in path coding: Creole data support a universal trend

March 28: Conference talk by Ilja A. Seržant at University of Leipzig: Differential object and subject marking from clefts. Presented at the conference “Vielfaltslinguistik in Leipzig. Konferenz für Typologie und Feldforschung. URL: http://research.uni-leipzig.de/unicodas/vielfaltslinguistik-in-leipzig/

January 2017

Jan 6: Plenary conference talk by Martin Haspelmath, at ConSOLE 25 (Leipzig University): Do aliens have UG? On efficiency of grammatical coding as an explanation for grammatical universals

Jan 12: Seminar talk by Ilja Seržant: Two developmental paths of Differential Object Marking

Jan 18: Invited talk by Natalia Levshina, at Gießen University : Permutation and recursive partitioning: word order, semantic complexity, politeness and the art of tea-tasting. URL: http://www.natalialevshina.com/Documents/Permutation.pdf

Jan 26: Seminar talk by Natalia Levshina: Economy, iconicity and productivity: A typological study of causative constructions (Diversity Linguistics Seminar)

December 2016

Dec 16: Invited talk by Martin Haspelmath, at Leiden University: Universal constraints on syntactic argument coding: Functional-adaptive, mutational and representational

November 2016

Nov 12: Conference talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis (& Martin Haspelmath), at conference “Inferences in Interaction and Language Change” (FRIAS Freiburg): Why independent possessive person-forms are longer: Diverse sources conspiring toward a uniform result

Nov 24 : Invited talk by Natalia Levshina, at Kiel University: Parallel corpora, conditional inference trees and random forests: How to compare constraints cross-linguistically. URL: http://www.natalialevshina.com/Documents/Levshina_Kiel2016.pdf

October 2016

Oct 26: Guest talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis at Afrikakolloquium (HU Berlin): Atlas of Pidgin and Creole Language Structures

September 2016

September 1-2: Workshop on Functional Motivations and Diachronic Explanation in Typology at the Annual Meeting of the SLE, with talks by Martin Haspelmath, Susanne Maria Michaelis, Natalia Levshina, Karsten Schmidtke-Bode and Ilja Seržant

Sept 16: Workshop talk by Martin Haspelmath, at University of Jena: Can we distinguish between mutational constraints and functional-adaptive constraints in explaining typological generalizations?

Sept 15 : Workshop talk by Natalia Levshina, at the 46th Poznań Linguistic Meeting, Adam Mickiewicz University. What causes causatives? A multifactorial study based on a parallel corpus. URL: http://www.natalialevshina.com/Documents/Levshina_PLM2016.pdf

August 2016

August 11: Seminar talk by Karsten Schmidtke-Bode: Complement clauses and complementation systems in cross-linguistic perspective.

June 2016

June 8: Seminar talk by Ilja Seržant: Towards the diachronic typology of differential P and S marking.

June 13: Guest talk by Ilja Seržant at the University of Cologne: Towards the diachronic typology of differential argument marking.

June 15: Conference talk by Natalia Levshina, at the 2nd Usage-Based Linguistics Conference, Tel Aviv University Tel Aviv: Frequency, predictability and grammatical asymmetries: Evidence from Google n-grams. URL: http://www.natalialevshina.com/Documents/Levshina_TelAviv2016.pdf

June 11: Conference talk by Natalia Levshina, at the Olomouc Linguistics Colloquium (Olinco), Olomouc University: A pilot study of T/V-forms in European languages based on a parallel corpus of film subtitles. URL: http://www.natalialevshina.com/Documents/Levshina_OLinCo2016.pdf

May 2016

May 19: Conference talk Ilja Seržant, at the conference “Sanskrit and the Linguistic Revolution – 200 years of Indo-European Studies” Jena: A new category in Tocharian: the Inagentive.

April 2016

April 4: Invited talk by Natalia Levshina, at the workshop “Probabilistic variation across dialects and varieties”, University of Leuven: Help + (to) Infinitive in twenty geographic varieties of web-based English: A Bayesian mixed-model approach. URL: http://www.natalialevshina.com/Documents/Levshina_Leuven2016.pdf

April 22: Workshop talk by Ilja Seržant, at the Working Meeting devoted to Differential Argument Marking. Moscow, Institute of Linguistics: Symmetric DOM: The case of Latvian.

Publications

• To appear

Haspelmath, Martin. 2018. Universals of causative and anticausative verb formation and the spontaneity scale. Lingua Posnaniensis (to appear). [zenodo]

Haspelmath, Martin. 2018. Explaining alienability contrasts in adpossessive constructions: Predictability vs. iconicity. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft (to appear). [zenodo]

Haspelmath, Martin & Karjus, Andres. 2018. Explaining asymmetries in number marking: Singulatives, pluratives and usage frequency. Linguistics (to appear)

Levshina, Natalia. 2017. Measuring iconicity: A quantitative study of lexical and analytic causatives in British English. Functions of Language (to appear)

Levshina, Natalia. 2017. Subtitles as a Corpus: An n-gram approach. Corpora (to appear)

Levshina, Natalia. 2017. Communicative efficiency and probabilistic grammar: Bayesian mixed-effect regression models of help + (to) Infinitive in varieties of web-based English. Glossa (to appear). DOI 10.5281/zenodo.582334

Michaelis, Susanne Maria. 2017. World-wide comparative evidence for calquing valency patterns in creoles. Journal of Language Contact  11.3 (special issue edited by Eitan Grossman, Ilja Seržant & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich) (to appear)

Zeshan, Ulrike & Bradford, Anastasia & Michaelis, Susanne Maria. 2017. Stabilisation of the lexicon in an emerging jargon: The development of signs to express animate beings in a sign language contact situation. In:  Zeshan, Ulrike & Webster, Jennifer (eds.). Sign multilingualism. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton & Ishara Press, (to appear)

Blasi, Damián E. & Michaelis, Susanne Maria & Haspelmath, Martin. 2017. Grammars are robustly transmitted even during the emergence of creole languages. Nature Human Behaviour

• Drafts

Schmidtke-Bode, Karsten & Gregor Stöber (submitted). Exploring the motivational antecedents of Nepalese learners of L2 English.

Haspelmath, Martin. How comparative concepts and descriptive linguistic categories are different. [zenodo]

• Published

2017

Levshina, Natalia. 2017. A multivariate study of T/V forms in European languages based on a parallel corpus of film subtitles. Research in Language 15(2). 153-172. DOI 10.1515/rela-2017-0010.

Haspelmath, Martin & the Leipzig Equative Constructions Team. 2017. Equative constructions in world-wide perspective. In: Treis, Yvonne & Vanhove, Martine (eds.) Similative and equative constructions: A cross-linguistic perspective. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Haspelmath, Martin & Michaelis, Susanne Maria. 2017. Analytic and synthetic: Typological change in varieties of European languages. In: Buchstaller, Isabelle & Siebenhaar, Beat (eds.) 2017. Language Variation – European Perspectives VI: Selected papers from the 8th International Conference on Language Variation in Europe (ICLaVE 8), Leipzig 2015. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Levshina, Natalia & Degand, Liesbeth. 2017. Just because: In search of objective criteria of subjectivity expressed by causal connectives. Dialogue & Discourse 8(1): 132-150. URL (open access): http://dad.uni-bielefeld.de/index.php/dad/article/view/3699

Schmidtke-Bode, Karsten and Holger Diessel. 2017. Cross-linguistic patterns in the structure, function and position of (object) complement clauses. Linguistics 55.1: 1-38.

2016

Haspelmath, Martin. 2016. The serial verb construction: Comparative concept and cross-linguistic generalizations. Language and Linguistics 17(3). 291–319. http://doi.org/10.1177/2397002215626895

Haspelmath, Martin. 2016. The challenge of making language description and comparison mutually beneficial. Linguistic Typology 20(2). 299-301. [Academia]

Divjak, Dagmar, Levshina, Natalia & Klavan, Jane. 2016. Cognitive Linguistics: Looking back, looking forward. Cognitive Linguistics 27(4). 447-464. URL: https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/cogl.2016.27.issue-4/issue-files/cogl.2016.27.issue-4.xml

Levshina, Natalia. 2016. When variables align: A Bayesian multinomial mixed-effects model of English permissive constructions. Cognitive Linguistics 27(2). 235-268.  DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/cog-2015-0054 [zenodo]

Levshina, Natalia. 2016. Why we need a token-based typology: A case study of analytic and lexical causatives in fifteen European languages. Folia Linguistica 50(2). 507-542. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/flin-2016-0019

Levshina, Natalia. 2016: Verbs of letting in Germanic and Romance languages: A quantitative investigation based on a parallel corpus of film subtitles. Languages in Contrast 16(1). 84-117. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/lic.16.1.04lev [zenodo]

Ilja A. Seržant. 2016. The Perfect/Resultative in Tocharian. In: T. Maisak, V. A. Plungian, & K. Semenova (eds.), The typology of the perfect: Investigations into the theory of grammar. (Issue VII. Acta Linguistica Petropolitana). St.-Petersburg: Nauka. 237-288.