This page provides information about the Diversity Linguistics Seminar, which takes place Tuesdays at 17:15h (in MPI-EVA’s entrance hall). It continues the tradition of the seminar series that took place at Leipzig University (Beethovenstraße 15) from 2016 until March 2020.


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.