This page provides information about the Diversity Linguistics Seminar, which takes place Fridays at 13:00h s.t. in Leipzig University’s GWZ, Beethovenstraße 15, Haus 1, 3. Etage, Raum 1.315. (It continues the tradition of the seminar series that took place at Leipzig University from 2016 until March 2020 as part of the ERC project activities.)


March 8th: Chapter 2 of [Becker, Laura. 2021. Articles in the world’s languages. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.]

March 1st: Osborne, Timothy & Kim Gerdes. 2019. The status of function words in dependency grammar: A critique of Universal Dependencies (UD). Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics 4(1). 17.

February 23rd: Talk by Daniel Krauße (Paris, LaTTiCe, CNRS, ENS–PSL & USN): “A Bird’s Head view on verbal complex predicates as part of the ComPLETE project”

February 16th: Futrell, Richard, Roger P. Levy & Edward Gibson. 2020. Dependency locality as an explanatory principle for word order. Language 96(2). 371–412.

February 9th: Bugaeva, Anna, Johanna Nichols & Balthasar Bickel. 2022. Appositive possession in Ainu and around the Pacific. Linguistic Typology 26(1). 43–88.

[January 12th-February 2nd: no meetings]

January 5th: Just, Erika. 2023. A structural and functional comparison of differential A and P indexing. Linguistics (ahead of print).


December 22nd: Malchukov, Andrej L. 2019. Interaction of verbal categories in a typological perspective. Gengo Kenkyu 156. 1–24.

December 15th: Carling, Gerd & Chundra Cathcart. 2021. Reconstructing the evolution of Indo-European grammar. Language 97(3). 561–598.

December 8th: Olthof, Marieke. 2020. Referentiality and modifiability of incorporated nouns. STUF – Language Typology and Universals 73(3). 305–362.

November 24th: Presentation by Katarzyna Janic (AMU Poznań): From antipassive to antipassive lookalike alternations: The form and function overlap within a P demotion domain

November 10th: Chapter 15 (“Flexivalency alternations“) of a forthcoming book (Creissels, Denis. 2024. Transitivity, valency and voice. Oxford: Oxford University Press, to appear).

November 3rd: Djamouri, Redouane & Paul, Waltraud & Whitman, John. 2013. Postpositions vs. prepositions in Mandarin Chinese: The articulation of disharmony. In Biberauer, Theresa & Sheehan, Michelle (eds.), Theoretical approaches to disharmonic word orders, 74–105. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

October 13th: Jäger, Agnes. 2021. The comparative cycle in crosslinguistic perspective. Linguistic Typology at the Crossroads 1(1). 124–178. (doi:10.6092/issn.2785-0943/13430)

October 6th: Jendraschek, Gerd. 2020. Case marking and complex adpositions in Basque. In Fagard, Benjamin & Pinto de Lima, José & Stosic, Dejan & Smirnova, Elena (eds.), Complex adpositions in European languages: A micro-typological approach to complex nominal relators, 367–402. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. (doi:10.1515/9783110686647)

September 29th: Wurmbrand, Susanne & Kovač, Iva & Lohninger, Magdalena & Pajančič, Caroline & Todorović, Neda. 2020. Finiteness in South Slavic complement clauses: Evidence for an implicational finiteness universal. Linguistica 60(1). 119–137. (doi:10.4312/linguistica.60.1.119-137)

September 15th: Hohaus, Vera & Bochnak, M. Ryan. 2020. The grammar of degree: Gradability across languages. Annual Review of Linguistics 6(1). 235–259. (doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011718-012009)

September 8th: van der Auwera, Johan & Dobrushina, Nina & Goussev, Valentin. 2003. A semantic map for imperative-hortatives. In Willems, Dominique & Defrancq, Bart & Colleman, Timothy & Noël, Dirk (eds.), Contrastive analysis in language: Identifying linguistic units of comparison, 44–66. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan. (

August 25th: Becker, Laura & Malchukov, Andrej. 2022. Semantic maps and typological hierarchies: Evidence for the Actionality Hierarchy. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 41(1). 31–66. (doi:10.1515/zfs-2021-2044)

August 18th: Holz, Christoph. 2022. The classifiability scale: A cross-linguistic study on the occurrence of numeral classifiers. Asian Languages and Linguistics 3(2). 331–367. (doi:10.1075/alal.22004.hol) [ask M. Haspelmath for the PDF]

June 9th: Seržant, Ilja A. & Janic, Katarzyna Maria & Dermaku, Darja & Ben Dror, Oneg. 2021. Typology of coding patterns and frequency effects of antipassives. Studies in Language 45(4). 968–1023. (doi:10.1075/sl.20049.ser)

June 2nd: Fagard, Benjamin & Pinto de Lima, José & Stosic, Dejan & Smirnova, Elena. 2020. Introduction: Complex adpositions and complex nominal relators. In Fagard, Benjamin & Pinto de Lima, José & Stosic, Dejan & Smirnova, Elena (eds.), Complex adpositions in European languages: A micro-typological approach to complex nominal relators, 1–30. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. (doi:10.1515/9783110686647-001)

May 26h: Coon, Jessica. 2020. The linguistics of Arrival: Heptapods, field linguistics, and Universal Grammar. In Punske, Jeffrey & Sanders, Nathan & Fountain, Amy V. (eds.), Language invention in linguistics pedagogy, 32–48. Oxford: Oxford University Press. (lingbuzz)

April 28th: Rott, Julian Andrej & Verhoeven, Elisabeth & Fritz-Huechante, Paola. 2023. Directionality in the psych alternation: A quantitative cross-linguistic study. Linguistic Typology aop (doi:10.1515/lingty-2021-0060)

April 21st: Dunn, Michael & Bellamy, Kate. 2023. Evolution and spread of politeness systems in Indo-European. Transactions of the Philological Society aop (doi:10.1111/1467-968X.12260)

March 17th: Piantadosi, Steven. 2023. Modern language models refute Chomsky’s approach to language. LingBuzz. (

February 24th: Deo, Ashwini. 2015. Diachronic semantics. Annual Review of Linguistics 1. 179–197. (doi:10.1146/annurev-linguist-030514-125100)

February 17th: Boye, Kasper & Harder, Peter. 2012. A usage-based theory of grammatical status and grammaticalization. Language 88(1). 1–44.

February 10th: Anderson, Gregory D. S. 2016. STAMP morphs in the Macro-Sudan Belt. In Payne, Doris L. & Pacchiarotti, Sara & Bosire, Mokaya (eds.), Diversity in African languages: Selected papers from the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics (Contemporary African Linguistics 1), 513–539. Berlin: Language Science Press. (


November 1st: Schapper, Antoinette & de Vries, Lourens. 2018. Comparatives in Melanesia: Concentric circles of convergence. Linguistic Typology 22(3). 437–494. (doi:10.1515/lingty-2018-0015)

October 25th: Levshina, Natalia. 2022. Semantic maps of causation: New hybrid approaches based on corpora and grammar descriptions. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 41(1). 179–205. (doi:10.1515/zfs-2021-2043)

October 11th: Seržant, Ilja A. 2021. Cyclic changes in verbal person-number indexes are unlikely. Folia Linguistica 55(s42–s1). 49–86. (doi:10.1515/flin-2021-2014)

August 9th: Štekauer, Pavol. 2015. Backformation. In Müller, Peter O. & Ohnheiser, Ingeborg & Olsen, Susan & Rainer, Franz (eds.), Word-Formation, 340–352. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. (doi:10.1515/9783110246254-016)

July 26nd: Jackendoff, Ray & Audring, Jenny. 2020. Relational Morphology: A cousin of Construction Grammar. Frontiers in Psychology 11. (

July 19th: Nunberg, Geoffrey & Sag, Ivan A. & Wasow, Thomas. 1994. Idioms. Language 70(3). 491–538.

July 12th: Mel’čuk, Igor. 2012. Phraseology in the language, in the dictionary, and in the computer. Yearbook of Phraseology 3(1). 31–56. (doi:10.1515/phras-2012-0003)

July 5th: Discussion of: Finkbeiner, Rita & Schlücker, Barbara. 2019. Compounds and multi-word expressions in the languages of Europe. In Schlücker, Barbara (ed.), Compounds and multi-word expressions in the languages of Europe, 1–44. Berlin: De Gruyter. (doi:10.1515/9783110632446-001)

May 3rd: Discussion of: Goddard, Cliff. 2001. Lexico-semantic universals: A critical overview. Linguistic Typology 5(1). 1–65.

April 26th: Discussion of: Raatikainen, Oona. 2021. Colexification patterns of perception verbs in the Circum-Baltic Area. Helsinki: University of Helsinki. (MA thesis.) (

April 12th: Discussion of: Koptjevskaja Tamm, Maria & Rakhilina, Ekaterina & Vanhove, Martine. 2016. The semantics of lexical typology. In Riemer, Nick (ed.), The Routledge handbook of semantics, 434–454. London: Routledge.

April 5th: Discussion of: Audring, Jenny & Leufkens, Sterre & van Lier, Eva. 2021. Small events: Verbal diminutives in the languages of the world. Linguistic Typology at the Crossroads 1(1). 223–256. (doi:10.6092/issn.2785-0943/13427)


October 27th: Discussion of: Sinnemäki, Kaius. 2020. Linguistic system and sociolinguistic environment as competing factors in linguistic variation: A typological approach. Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics 6(2). (doi:10.1515/jhsl-2019-1010) (

October 20th: Discussion of: Norris, Mark. 2019. A typological perspective on nominal concord. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 4(1). 12–1–15. (doi:10.3765/plsa.v4i1.4515)

October 13th: Presentation by Martin Haspelmath, on word class universals (including a discussion of William Croft’s new paper for the Oxford Handbook fo Word Classes:

September 30th: In-person talk by Kofi Yakpo (University of Hong Kong): Creole genealogy and areal contact

(September 15-18: Klausurtagung Schmochtitz)

September 8th: Discussion of: Lee, Hanjung. 2016. Usage probability and subject-object asymmetries in Korean case ellipsis: Experiments with subject case ellipsis. Journal of Linguistics 52(1). 70.

September 1st: Discussion of: Smith, Kenny & Culbertson, Jennifer. 2020. Communicative pressures shape language during communication (not learning): Evidence from casemarking in artificial languages. PsyArXiv. (Preprint.) (doi:10.31234/

August 28th: Discussion of: Creissels, Denis. 2018. Binominals and construct marking. (To appear in a volume edited by Steve Pepper & Francesca Masini)

August 4th: Discussion of: Osborne, Timothy & Kim Gerdes. 2019. The status of function words in dependency grammar: A critique of Universal Dependencies (UD). Glossa: A journal of general linguistics 4(1). 17.

July 21st: In-person talk by Svenja Lueg (University of Bochum): Diachronic changes of alignment in Semitic languages

July 14th: Discussion of: Kibrik, Andrej A. 2011. Reference in discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Chapter 8.

July 7th: Discussion of: van Gijn, Rik. 2016. Switch reference: An overview. In van Gijn, Rik & Hammond, Jeremy (eds.), Switch reference 2.0. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

June 19th: Discussion of: Comrie, Bernard. 1999. Reference-tracking: Description and explanation. Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 52(3–4). 335–346. (again in presence)

June 12th: Discussion of: Ortmann, Albert. 2018. Connecting the typology and semantics of nominal possession: Alienability splits and the morphology–semantics interface. Morphology 28(1). 99–144. (video conference)

June 5th: Discussion of: Mollica, Francis & Geoff Bacon & Yang Xu & Terry Regier & Charles Kemp. 2020. Grammatical marking and the tradeoff between code length and informativeness (video conference)

May 15th, 11:00h: Talk by Erika Just (University of Kiel): Differential indexing of A and P (video conference)

May 8th, 11:00h: Talk by Julia Nintemann (University of Bremen): Here – hither – hence: A worldwide study of spatial deictic adverbs (video conference)

February 25th, 11:00h: Talk by Katarzyna Wojtylak (University of Regensburg): Classifier constructions in Witotoan languages (Nikolaistraße 8-10, 5.5.5)

February 20th, 15:00h: Talk by Dan Ke (Leipzig University): Merging of P-D pairs can be explained by frequency of use (GWZ H4 3.15)

February 18th, 11:00h: Talk by Alexandre François (Lattice-CNRS, Paris): Verbal number in the Torres languages (Vanuatu) (GWZ H4 3.15)

February 13th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Kiparsky (2012):

Kiparsky, Paul. 2012. Grammaticalization as optimization. In Jonas, Dianne & Whitman, John & Garrett, Andrew (eds.), Grammatical Change: Origins, Nature, Outcomes, 15–51. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

February 6th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Levshina (2019):

Levshina, Natalia. 2019. Token-based typology and word order entropy: A study based on Universal Dependencies. Linguistic Typology 23(3). 533–572. (doi:10.1515/lingty-2019-0025)

January 30th, 15:00h: Vortrag von Ilja Seržant (Uni Leipzig): “Makroareale Einflüsse auf die slavische Morphosyntax”

January 23rd, 15:00h: Talk by Lars Meyer (MPI-CBS Leipzig): Language Cycles: Bridging electrophysiology and big-data linguistics

January 16th, 15:00h: Talk by Antonio Magaña (Leipzig University): Tojolabal word order


December 12th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Roberts (2017):

Roberts, John R. 2017. A typology of switch-reference. In Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald & R. M. W Dixon (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of linguistic typology, 538–573. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

November 28th, 15:00h: Special discussion session: “Linguistics research and the climate crisis”, led by Anke Himmelreich (Leipzig University) (on the occasion of the Global Day of Climate Action, November 29th)

November 21st, 15:00h: Talk by Ian Joo (MPI-SHH Jena): Phonosemantics and tonosemantics

November 14th, 11:15h: Talk by Manfred Krifka: Layers of assertive clauses: Propositions, Judgements, Commitments, Acts (NOTE: This seminar will take place in conjunction with the Typologiekolloquium, at 11:15h, in GWZ H1 5.16)

November 7th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Chappell & Creissels (2019):

Chappell, Hilary & Denis Creissels. 2019. Topicality and the typology of predicative possession. Linguistic Typology. doi:10.1515/lingty-2019-0016

October 24th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Sóskuthy & Roettger (2019):

Sóskuthy, Márton & Roettger, Timo B. 2019. When the tune shapes morphology: The origins of vocatives. PsyArXiv Preprints. doi:10.31234/ (

October 17th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Wray & Grace (2007):

Wray, Alison & George W. Grace. 2007. The consequences of talking to strangers: Evolutionary corollaries of socio-cultural influences on linguistic form. Lingua (The Evolution of Language) 117(3). 543–578. doi:10.1016/j.lingua.2005.05.005.


October 10th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Riesberg et al (2019):

Riesberg, Sonja, Kurt Malcher & Nikolaus P. Himmelmann. 2019. How universal is agent-first? Evidence from symmetrical voice languages. Language 95(3). 523–561. doi:10.1353/lan.2019.0055.

September 26th, 15:00h: Presentations on open digital dictionaries: (1) The LiODi Project (Linked Open Dictionaries), by Monika Rind-Pawlowski & Maxim Ionov (Goethe University Frankfurt), and (2) the dictionary journal Dictionaria, by Iren Hartmann (Leipzig University)

July 4th, 15:00h: Talk by Volker Gast (FSU Jena): Reflexivity, referential independence and epistemic validation

June 27th, 15:00h: Talk by Marie-Elaine van Egmond (University of Greifswald): Contact-induced morphological change in Anindilyakwa (Australia): Can polysynthesis survive in an urban environment?

June 20th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Alexiadou (2019):

Alexiadou, Artemis. 2019. Morphological and semantic markedness revisited: The realization of plurality across languages. Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft 38(1). 123–154. doi:10.1515/zfs-2019-0004.

May 23rd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Sansò (2018):

Sansò, Andrea. 2018. Explaining the diversity of antipassives: Formal grammar vs. (diachronic) typology. Language and Linguistics Compass 12(6). e12277. doi:10.1111/lnc3.12277.

May 16th, 15:00h: Talk by Armin Schwegler (University of California, Irvine): Negation in Palenquero, Brazilian Portuguese, D.R. Spanish, etc: On the complex interface between morphosyntax and pragmatics

May 9th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Beavers et al. (2017):

Beavers, John, Michael Everdell, Kyle Jerro, Henri Kauhanen, Andrew Koontz-Garboden, Elise LeBovidge & Stephen Nichols. 2017. Two types of states: A cross-linguistic study of change-of-state verb roots. Proceedings of the Linguistic Society of America 2(0). 38-1–15. doi:10.3765/plsa.v2i0.4094.

May 2nd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Chappell & Verstraete (2019):

Chappell, Hilary & Jean-Christophe Verstraete. 2019. Optional and alternating case marking: Typology and diachrony. Language and Linguistics Compass 13(3). e12311. doi:10.1111/lnc3.12311.

April 25th, 15:00h: Talk by Nicoletta Puddu (University of Cagliari, Italy): A morphological typology of reflexives

April 4th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Gibson et al. (2019):

Edward Gibson (MIT), Richard Futrell (UC Irvine), Steven T. Piantadosi (UC Berkeley), Isabelle Dautriche (Edinburgh), Kyle Mahowald, Leon Bergen (UC San Diego), & Roger Levy (MIT) (2019):

How efficiency shapes human language

(March 19th: There will be a one-day workshop on grammatical universals and typology)

March 14th, 15:00h: Talk by Ksenia Shagal (University of Helsinki): Uralic syntax from an areal perspective

March 11th, 11:00h (special time!): Talk by Terry Regier (UC Berkeley): Semantic typology and the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in computational perspective

February 21st, 15:00h: Talk Nicklas Oranen (University of Helsinki): Valency alternations as comparative concepts: Problems and considerations

February 14th, 15:00h: Talk by Steve Pepper (University of Oslo): The typology of associative relations in word-formation, metonymy and beyond (note: GWZ H1 5.16!)

February 7th, 15:00h: Talk by Mikael Parkvall (University of Oslo): Creole languages: Mixedness is not what it’s all about

January 31st, 15:00h: Talk by Rong CHEN (Leipzig University): Plural forms in the world’s languages

January 17th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Kiparsky & Tonhauser (2012):

Kiparsky, Paul & Judith Tonhauser. 2012. Semantics of inflection. In Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning, vol. 3, 2070–2097. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. DOI: 10.1515/9783110253382.2070

January 10th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Say (2014):

Say, Sergey. 2014. Bivalent verb classes in the languages of Europe: A quantitative typological study. Language Dynamics and Change 4(1). 116–166. doi:10.1163/22105832-00401003.


December 13th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Smith et al. (2018):

Smith, Peter W., Beata Moskal, Ting Xu, Jungmin Kang & Jonathan David Bobaljik. 2018. Case and number suppletion in pronouns. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory. doi:10.1007/s11049-018-9425-0. (Lingbuzz:

November 29th, 15:00h: Talk by Diana Forker (University of Jena): Elevation as a category of grammar: East Caucasian languages and beyond

November 22nd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Evseeva & Salaberri (2018):

Evseeva, Natalia & Iker Salaberri. 2018. Grammaticalization of nouns meaning ‘head’ into reflexive markers: A cross-linguistic study. Linguistic Typology 22(3). 385–435. doi:10.1515/lingty-2018-0014.

November 15th, 15:00h: Talk by Vladimir Panov (Moscow and Vilnius): Sentence-final and second position:  Understanding clustering grammatical elements beyond “clitics”

November 8th, 15:00h: Talk by Jonathan Schlossberg (University of Newcastle, Australia): Factors influencing diversity in spatial referencing practices: Evidence from Marshallese

November 1st, 15:00h: Talk by David Gil (MPI-SHH Jena): “Who is your name?” Between language contact and linguistic typology

October 25th, 15:00h: Talk by Natalia Levshina (Leipzig University): Corpus-based explanation of differential case marking

October 18th, 15:00h: (no seminar; instead, Laura Becker’s defense at 13:00h)

October 4th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Helmbrecht et al. (2018):

Helmbrecht, Johannes, Lukas Denk, Sarah Thanner & Ilenia Tonetti. 2018. Morphosyntactic coding of proper names and its implications for the Animacy Hierarchy. In Sonia Cristofaro & Fernando Zúñiga (eds.), Typological hierarchies in synchrony and diachrony, 377–401. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

September 27th, 15:00h: Talk by Jurica Polančec (University of Zagreb & Leipzig University): Investigating actionality from a cross-linguistic perspective

September 20th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Haig (2018):

Haig, Geoffrey. 2018. The grammaticalization of object pronouns: Why differential object indexing is an attractor state. Linguistics 56(4). 781–818. doi:10.1515/ling-2018-0011.

September 13th, 15:00h: Talk by Matthias Urban (Uni Tübingen): Language and environment between ecological determinism and cultural diversity

August 23rd, 15:00h: Talk by Dan Ke (Leipzig University): A data-based study on universals of nomification systems

August 2nd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Fiedler & al. (2010)

Fiedler, Ines, Katharina Hartmann, Brigitte Reineke, Anne Schwarz & Malte Zimmermann. 2010. Subject focus in West African languages. In Malte Zimmermann & Caroline Féry (eds.), Information structure: Theoretical, typological, and experimental perspectives, 234–257. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

July 5th, 15:00h: Talk by Vladimir Panov (Moscow and Vilnius): Sentence-final particles in Asia: Defining an area-bound typological concept

June 28th, 11:00h: Talk by Pernilla Hallonsten Halling (Stockholm University): Adverb as a part of speech from a cross-linguistic perspective (Room: SFB Seminar Room 5.55, Nikolaistraße 10, 5th floor)

June 21st, 15:00h: Talk by Sonia Cristofaro (University of Pavia): From result-oriented typology to source-oriented typology: Implicational universals in diachronic perspective

June 7th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing de Swart & de Hoop (2018):

de Swart, Peter & de Hoop, Helen. 2018. Shifting animacy. Theoretical Linguistics 44(1–2). 1–23. DOI: 10.1515/tl-2018-0001.

May 31st, 15:00h: Talk by Katarzyna Janic (Leipzig University): Marking of agent-patient, agent-recipient and agent-beneficiary coreference in a cross-linguistic perspective

May 29th, 15:00h (Tuesday!): Talk by Matthew S. Dryer (University at Buffalo): The phonological basis of the analytic-synthetic-polysynthetic distinction (Room: SFB Seminar Room 5.55, Nikolaistraße 10, 5th floor)

May 17th, 15:00h: Talk by Uli Reich (with Raúl Bendezú and Timo Buchholz) (FU Berlin): Evidentiality, epistemic modality and focus in Conchucos Quechua

May 15th, 15:00h (Tuesday!): Talk by Jingting Ye (Leipzig University): Property words and the attributive prominence hierarchy (Room: SFB Seminar Room 5.55, Nikolaistraße 10, 5th floor)

May 3rd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Luraghi (2014):

Luraghi, Silvia. 2014. Plotting diachronic semantic maps: The role of metaphors. In Silvia Luraghi & Heiko Narrog (eds.), Perspectives on semantic roles, 99–150. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

April 26th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Handschuh (2017):

Handschuh, Corinna. 2017. Nominal category marking on personal names: A typological study of case and definiteness. Folia Linguistica 51(2). 483–504. doi:10.1515/flin-2017-0017.

April 19th, 15:00h: Talk by Natalia Levshina (Leipzig University): Linguistic diversity, evolution and information theory

April 5th, 13:15h: Talk by Andrej Malchukov (University of Mainz): Exploring the domain of ditransitive constructions: Issues in lexical typology (GWZ H5.3.16!)

April 5th, 15:00h: Talk by Steve Pepper (University of Oslo): Roots, affixes and the typology of binominal lexemes (GWZ H5.3.16!)

March 22nd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Temperley & Gildea (2018):

Temperley, David & Daniel Gildea. 2018. Minimizing syntactic dependency lengths: Typological/cognitive universal? Annual Review of Linguistics 4(1). 67–80. doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011817-045617.

March 15th, 15:00h: Talk by Matthew S. Dryer (University at Buffalo): Why do languages have nouns and verbs?

March 1st, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Berez-Kroeker et al. (2018):

Berez-Kroeker, Andrea L., Lauren Gawne, Susan Smythe Kung, Barbara F. Kelly, Tyler Heston, Gary Holton, Peter Pulsifer, David I. Beaver, Shobhana Chelliah & Stanley Dubinsky. 2018. Reproducible research in linguistics: A position statement on data citation and attribution in our field. Linguistics 56(1). 1–18. DOI: 10.1515/ling-2017-0032.

February 15th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Georgakopoulos & Polis (2018):

Georgakopoulos, Thanasis & Stéphane Polis. 2018. The semantic map model: State of the art and future avenues for linguistic research. Language and Linguistics Compass (to appear)

February 8th, 15:00h: Talk by Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (Universität Kiel): Complement clauses in Luruuli-Lunyara (Bantu)

February 1st, 15:00h: Talk by Tom Güldemann & Ines Fiedler (HU Berlin): Gender in Niger-Congo languages from a typological and historical perspective: A research project

January 25th, 15:00h: Talk by Greville G. Corbett (University of Surrey): Pluralia tantum nouns: Diversity meets the usual suspects

January 11th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Nichols (2017):

Nichols, Johanna. 2017. Person as an inflectional category. Linguistic Typology 21(3). 387–456. doi:10.1515/lingty-2017-0010.



December 7th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Norcliffe & Jaeger (2016):

Norcliffe, Elisabeth & T. Florian Jaeger. 2016. Predicting head-marking variability in Yucatec Maya relative clause production. Language and Cognition 8(2). 167–205. doi:10.1017/langcog.2014.39.

November 23rd, 15:00h: Talk by Natalia Levshina (Leipzig University): Linguistic universals in the time of corpora

November 16th, 15:00h: Talk by Henrik Liljegren (Stockholm University): Gender and animacy in the areal typology of the Hindukush (Room: SFB Seminar Room 5.55, Nikolaistraße 10, 5th floor)

November 9th, 15:00h: Talk by Péter Maitz (Uni Augsburg): Unserdeutsch (Rabaul Creole German): Zur Kreoltypikalität einer deutschbasierten Kreolsprache

November 2nd, 15:00h: Talk by Dan Ke (Uni Leipzig): A data-based study of gender universals

October 26th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Stolz et al. (2017):

Stolz, Thomas, Nataliya Levkovych & Aina Urdze. 2017. Spatial interrogatives: Typology and dynamics (with special focus on the development from Latin to Romance). In Silvia Luraghi, Tatiana Nikitina & Chiara Zanchi (eds.), Space in diachrony, 207–240. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

October 19th, 15:00h: Talk by Christian Lehmann (Universität Erfurt):
Relative clauses in Cabecar (a Chibchan language of Costa Rica)

October 12th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Malchukov (2016):

Malchukov, Andrej L. 2016. “Ambivalent voice”: Markedness effects in valency change. In Taro Kageyama & Wesley M. Jacobsen (eds.), Transitivity and valency alternations: Studies on Japanese and beyond, 389–422. (Trends in Linguistics, Studies and Monographs 297). Berlin: De Gruyter. doi:10.1515/9783110477153-016

September 28th, 15:00h: Talk by Laura Becker (Leipzig University): Articles across the world’s languages

September 27th (Wednesday!), 15:00h: Talk by Kaius Sinnemäki (University of Helsinki): Multiple sources of variation in case marking

September 21st, 15:00h: Talk by Ye Jingting (Leipzig University): Independent and dependent possessive person forms: A cross-linguistic study

September 15th, 15:00h (Friday!): Reading seminar, discussing Seržant & Magaña (2017): Argument realization in Tojolabal (Mayan): A corpus-based approach

August 31st, 15:00h: Talk by Martin Haspelmath (MPI-SHH Jena & Leipzig University):
Role-reference association and form-frequency correspondence: An attempt at unifying monotransitive and ditransitive argument coding splits and alternations

August 24th, 15:00h: Talk by Karolin Obert (Universidade de São Paulo):
Are there serial verb constructions in Dâw (a Nadahup language of Brazil)?

August 17th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Regier et al. (2016):

Regier, Terry, Alexandra Carstensen & Charles Kemp. 2016. Languages support efficient communication about the environment: Words for snow revisited. PLOS ONE 11(4). e0151138. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0151138

July 27th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Zwarts (2010):

Zwarts, Joost. 2010. A hierarchy of locations: Evidence from the encoding of direction in adpositions and cases. Linguistics 48(5). 983–1009. DOI: 10.1515/ling.2010.032.

July 20th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Reinöhl & Himmelmann (2017):

Reinöhl, Uta & Nikolaus P. Himmelmann. 2017. Renewal: A figure of speech or a process sui generis? Language 93(2). 381–413. doi:10.1353/lan.2017.0018.

July 6th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Berdicevskis & Semenuks (2017):

Berdicevskis, Aleksandrs & Semenuks, Arturs. 2017. Imperfect language learning eliminates morphological overspecification: Experimental evidence.

June 22nd, 15:00h: Talk by Christoph Holz (Uni Leipzig): Numeral classifiers don’t individuate: A usage-based approach

June 16th, 11:00h: Talk by Nikolaus P. Himmelmann (Uni Köln): Universals of Language 3.0

June 15th, 15:00h: Talk by Katerina Stathi (Uni Bonn): Granularity: Semantic specificity and generality across languages

June 8th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Koplenig et al. (2017):

Koplenig, Alexander, Peter Meyer, Sascha Wolfer & Carolin Müller-Spitzer. 2017. The statistical trade-off between word order and word structure: Large-scale evidence for the principle of least effort. PLOS ONE 12(3). e0173614. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0173614.

June 1st, 15:00h: Talk by Holger Diessel (Uni Jena): Introducing the grammar network

May 18th, 15:00h: Talk by Cormac Anderson (MPI-SHH Jena): Descriptive categories and comparative concepts in phonology

May 11th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Hendriks et al. (2015):

Hendriks, Petra, John C. J. Hoeks & Jennifer Spenader. 2015. Reflexive choice in Dutch and German. The Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 17(3). 229–252. DOI:10.1007/s10828-014-9070-x.

May 4th, 15:00h: Talk by Thomas Stolz (Uni Bremen): Coding complexity in spatial interrogatives / Zu- und abnehmende Kodierungskomplexität: Der Fall der räumlichen Interrogativa

April 27th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Koontz-Garboden (2006):

Koontz-Garboden, Andrew. 2005. On the typology of state/change of state alternations. In Geert Booij & Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of Morphology 2005, 83–117. Dordrecht: Springer.

April 20th, 15:00h: Talk by Ilka Wild (University of Erfurt): The Kanakanavu language, an Austronesian language of Taiwan: Selected topics

(April 13th: no seminar)

April 6th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Siegel (2016):

Siegel, Jeff. 2016. Contact-induced grammatical change in Melanesia: Who were the agents of change? Australian Journal of Linguistics 36(3). 406–428 (doi:10.1080/07268602.2015.1134301)

(March 30th: no seminar)

March 23rd, 11:00h: Talk by Aina Urdze (University of Bremen): Coding asymmetries in tense marking world-wide: A preliminary report

March 16th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Lehmann (2012):

Lehmann, Christian. 2012. Converse categorization strategies. Linguistics 50(3). 467–494. doi:10.1515/ling-2012-0016.

(March 9th: no seminar)

March 2nd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Kurumada & Grimm (2017):

Kurumada, Chigusa & Scott Grimm. 2017. Communicative efficiency in language production and learning: Optional plural marking (submitted).

February 23rd, 15:00h: Talk by Martin Haspelmath (MPI-SHH Jena & Leipzig University): Universals of causative and anticausative verb formation and the spontaneity scale

February 16th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Koch (1995):

Koch, Harold. 1995. The creation of morphological zeroes. In Geert Booij & Jaap van Marle (eds.), Yearbook of Morphology 1994, 31–71. (Yearbook of Morphology). Dordrecht: Kluwer. (doi:10.1007/978-94-017-3714-2_2)

February 9th, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Lewis & Frank (2016):

Lewis, Molly L. & Michael C. Frank. 2016. The length of words reflects their conceptual complexity. Cognition 153. 182–195. (doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2016.04.003)

February 2nd, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Kurumada & Jaeger (2015):

Kurumada, Chigusa & T. Florian Jaeger. 2015. Communicative efficiency in language production: Optional case-marking in Japanese. Journal of Memory and Language 83. 152–178. (doi:10.1016/j.jml.2015.03.003)

January 26 (2017), 15:00h: Talk by Natalia Levshina (Uni Leipzig): Economy, iconicity and productivity: a typological study of causative constructions

January 19 (2017), 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Urban (2011):

Urban, Matthias. 2011. Asymmetries in overt marking and directionality in semantic change. Journal of Historical Linguistics 1(1). 3–47. doi:10.1075/jhl.1.1.02urb.

January 12 (2017), 15:00h: Talk by Ilja Seržant (Uni Leipzig): Two developmental paths of Differential Object Marking


December 8, 15:00h: Talk by Julia Bischoffberger (Leipzig University): Agreement and reference in Guarayu (Tupian; Bolivia)

December 1, 15:00h: Talk by Martin Haspelmath (MPI-SHH & Leipzig University): Grammatical coding asymmetries and predictability: An overview of the goals of the “Grammatical Universals” project

(November 24: no seminar)

November 17, 15:00h: Talk by Natalia Levshina (Leipzig University): Universal functional motivations and probabilistic grammar: Bayesian mixed-effect regression models of help + (to) Infinitive in varieties of web-based English

November 10, 15:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Plank (2015):

Plank, Frans. 2015. Time for change. In Carlotta Viti (ed.), Perspectives on historical syntax, 61–91. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

November 3, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Lestrade (2013):

Lestrade, Sander. 2013. The optional use of morphological case. Linguistic Discovery 11(1). 84–104.

October 27, 14:00h: Talk by Patrick Steinkrüger (HU Berlin): The typology of Romance languages: An intragenetic approach

October 13th, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Fauconnier (2011):

Fauconnier, Stefanie. 2011. Differential agent marking and animacy. Lingua 121(3). 533–547.

October 6th, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Creissels (2017):

Creissels, Denis. 2017. The Obligatory Coding Principle in diachronic perspective. In: Sonia Cristofaro & Fernando Zúñiga (eds). Typological hierarchies in diachrony. Amsterdam: Benjamins (to appear)

September 29, 14:00h: Talk by Elisabeth Verhoeven (HU Berlin): Argument alternations and linearization: A cross-linguistic corpus study (Abstract)

September 22, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Blasi et al. (2016):

Blasi, Damián E., Søren Wichmann, Harald Hammarström, Peter F. Stadler & Morten H. Christiansen. 2016. Sound–meaning association biases evidenced across thousands of languages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 201605782.

September 15, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Kiparsky (2008):

Kiparsky, Paul. 2008. Universals constrain change; change results in typological generalizations. In Jeff Good (ed.), Linguistic universals and language change, 23–53. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

September 8, 14:00h: Talk by Jakob Neels (Leipzig U): Frequency-effect explanations of grammaticalisation: Can we count on them?

August 25, 14:00h: Talk by Susanne Maria Michaelis (Leipzig U): World-wide comparative evidence for calquing of valency patterns in creoles

August 18, 14:00h: Talk by Antonio Magaña Macías (Leipzig U): Ergative agreement in Tojolab’al (Mayan, Mexico)

August 11, 14:00h: Talk by Karsten Schmidtke-Bode (Leipzig U): Report on a cross-linguistic study of complement clauses and complementation  systems

August 4, 14:00h: Talk by Natalia Levshina (Leipzig U): Frequency, predictability and grammatical asymmetries: Evidence from Google n-grams

July 28, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Plag & Balling (2016):

Plag, Ingo & Balling, Laura Winther. 2016. Derivational morphology: An integrative perspective on some fundamental questions. In Pirelli, Vito & Plag, Ingo & Dressler, Wolfgang U. (eds.). 2016. Word knowledge and word usage: A cross-disciplinary guide to the mental lexicon. Berlin: De Gruyter (to appear)

July 21, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Brown et al. (2013):

Brown, Dunstan, Greville G. Corbett, Sebastian Fedden, Andrew Hippisley & Paul Marriott. 2013. Grammatical typology and frequency analysis: Number availability and number use. Journal of Language Modelling 1(2). 227–241. doi:10.15398/jlm.v1i2.69.

July 14, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Kirby et al. (2008):

S. Kirby, H. Cornish & K. Smith. 2008. Cumulative cultural evolution in the laboratory: An experimental approach to the origins of structure in human language. PNAS 105(31): 10681–10686

July 7, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Singh & Ford (2003):

Singh, Rajendra & Alan Ford. 2003. In praise of Sakatayana: Some remarks on whole word morphology. In Rajendra Singh, Stanley Starosta & Sylvain Neuvel (eds.), Explorations in Seamless Morphology, 66–76. New Delhi: SAGE.


June 30, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Schwarz (2013):

Schwarz, Florian. 2013. Two kinds of definites cross-linguistically. Language and Linguistics Compass 7(10). 534–559. (

June 23: 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Moskal (2015):

Moskal, Beata. 2015. Limits on allomorphy: A case study in nominal suppletion. Linguistic Inquiry 46(2). 363–376. (doi:10.1162/LING_a_00185)

(June 22, 10:00h: Talk by Damián Blasi: What quantitative methods can do for the study of cross-linguistic patterns (GWZ H5 3.16))

June 16, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Newmeyer (2016):

Newmeyer, Frederick J. 2016. Nonsyntactic explanations of island constraints. Annual Review of Linguistics 2(1). 187–210. (doi:10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011415-040707)

June 9, 14:00h: Talk by Ilja Seržant (Leipzig U): Towards a diachronic typology of Differential Argument Marking

June 2, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Huang (2009):

Huang, Yan. 2009. Neo-Gricean pragmatics and the lexicon. International Review of Pragmatics 1(1). 118–153. [Brill] [other]

May 26, 14:00h: Talk by Chen Rong (Leipzig U): Hypothesis-driven universal testing: The association between regularity and length of number marking forms

May 19, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Lee Hanjung (2010)

Lee, Hanjung. 2010. Explaining variation in Korean case ellipsis: Economy versus iconicity. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 19(4). 291–318.

May 12, 14:00h: Talk by Karen De Clercq (guest from U Ghent): Typology, syncretisms and nanosyntax in the analysis of negation

April 28, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Himmelmann (2014)

Himmelmann, Nikolaus P. 2014. Asymmetries in the prosodic phrasing of function words: Another look at the suffixing preference. Language 90(4). 927–960.

April 21, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Dingemanse et al. (2013)

Dingemanse, Mark, Francisco Torreira & N. J. Enfield. 2013. Is “huh?” a universal word? Conversational infrastructure and the convergent evolution of linguistic items. PLOS ONE 8(11). e78273. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078273.

April 14, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Siewierska (2010)

Siewierska, Anna. 2010. Person asymmetries in zero expression and grammatical function. In Franck Floricic (ed.), Essais de typologie et de linguistique générale: Mélanges offerts à Denis Creissels, 471–485. Lyon: ENS Éditions.


April 7, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Creissels (2015+)

Creissels, Denis. The Obligatory Coding Principle in diachronic perspective. Manuscript, University of Lyon 2 (downloadable from the author’s personal website)

March 31, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Everett et al. (2016)

Everett, Caleb, Damián E. Blasi & Seán G. Roberts. 2016. Language evolution and climate: The case of desiccation and tone. Journal of Language Evolution 1(1). 33–46. (doi:10.1093/jole/lzv004).

March 24: no meeting

March 17, 14:00h: Talk by Tom Güldemann  (HU Berlin) (& Tjerk Hagemeijer, U Lisbon): How to become a Macro-Sudan belt language: The Gulf-of-Guinea creole (GGC) case

March 10, 14:00h: Talk by Michael Cysouw (Universität Marburg): Using Parallel text to quantify models of linguistic diversity and change

March 3, 14:00h: Talk by Ulrike Zeshan (Central Lancaster University): Another kind of jargon: Deaf sign language users without a shared language developing communication over time

February 25, 14:00h: Natalia Levshina: Multifactorial descriptions and multiple explanations: A study of English permissive constructions

February 18, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Hawkins (2014), Chapter 2

Hawkins, John A. 2014. Cross-linguistic variation and efficiency. New York: Oxford University Press.

February 11, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Haspelmath (1999)

Haspelmath, Martin. 1999. Why is grammaticalization irreversible? Linguistics 37(6). 1043–1068.

February 4, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Haig & Schnell (2016)

Haig, Geoffrey & Stefan Schnell. 2016. The discourse basis of ergativity revisited. Language (to appear)

January 28, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Schmidtke-Bode (2012)

Schmidtke-Bode, Karsten. 2012. The performance basis of grammatical constraints on complex sentences: A preliminary survey. In Volker Gast & Holger Diessel (eds.), Clause linkage in cross-linguistic perspective: Data-driven approaches to cross-clausal syntax, 415–448. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

January 21, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Bickel et al. (2015)

Bickel, Balthasar & Witzlack-Makarevich, Alena & Zakharko, Taras & Iemmolo, Giorgio. 2015. Exploring diachronic universals of agreement: Alignment patterns and zero marking across person categories. In: Fleischer, Jürg & Rieken, Elisabeth & Widmer, Paul (eds.) Agreement from a diachronic perspective, 29-51. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.

January 14, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Napoli et al. (2014)

Napoli, Donna Jo & Sanders, Nathan & Wright, Rebecca. 2014. On the linguistic effects of articulatory ease, with a focus on sign languages. Language 90(2). 424–456.

January 7, 14:00h: Reading seminar, discussing Anderson (2016)

Anderson, Stephen R. 2016. Synchronic versus diachronic explanation and the nature of the Language Faculty. Annual Review of Linguistics 2(1).

If you need access to a paper for a reading seminar, please write to Martin Haspelmath.