This page provides information about the Diversity Linguistics Seminar, which takes place on Thursdays at 15:00h, in GWZ H4 3.15 (Beethovenstraße 15 in Leipzig). This is organized by Martin Haspelmath. Everyone is welcome to attend.

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

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

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.