Call for Papers

Revisiting Parameters:
Holmberg and Platzack (1995) Reloaded

Lund, October 16 – 17, 2008

Invited speakers:

Elisabet Engdahl, Anders Holmberg, Christer Platzack, Höskuldur Thráinsson, Frederick Newmeyer.

Organized by NORMS. Support for speakers provided by NORMS, with funding from NOS-HS.

Workshop program

Workshop description

Thirteen years have passed since the release of Holmberg & Platzack 1995, itself the culmination of about a decade of work on the parametric differences between Mainland and Insular Scandinavian (by which they meant, Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish on the one hand and Icelandic and Faroese on the other).*

That monograph constitutes one of the most extended arguments for the classic view of parameters in linguistic theory. It argues at length that two parameters, an agreement parameter and a case parameter, account for a host of finer-grained distinctions between two groups of languages in such phenomena as V-to-T, null expletives, non-nominative subjects, object shift, long-distance reflexives, and word order options in double-object constructions, connecting them all to the presence in Icelandic of overt agreement and case morphology, as opposed to the absence of such morphology in Swedish and neighboring languages.

In the ensuing 13 years, each of these phenomena has received other treatments, and other differences among North Germanic varieties have been analyzed as well. In many of these more recent treatments, the connection between morphology and syntax has been challenged, and furthermore the interconnections among the various syntactic phenomena has also been called into question. In addition, there has been work on languages other than Scandinavian contributing to our understanding of the syntax-morphology interface and of the nature of parameters.

The conference "Revisiting Parameters" calls for 2-page abstracts for papers that address these issues, including (but not limited to) such matters as:

  • Do other language families that show a similar split between a morphologically rich branch and a morphologically weak branch exhibit comparable differences in syntactic phenomena to the North Germanic case?
  • To what extent can the differences between two groups of languages such as Mainland and Insular Scandinavian be characterized in terms of a small set of parameters?
  • How can a microparametric or lexical approach, in which there are few or no implicational relations among parameter settings, account for the problem of language acquisition?
  • What do such differences as those among the North Germanic languages tell us about the nature of parameters?

Abstracts dealing entirely with non-Scandinavian languages are welcome.

Abstract deadline: July 15th, 2008

Presentations will be in English. Partial reimbursement for travel expenses will be available for speakers whose abstracts are selected for presentation.

Two-page abstracts should be sent in pdf format before midnight, July 15th Central European Summer Time (Greenwich +1+1) to; abstracts should be anonymous, and contact information should be included in the e-mail. An individual may submit at most one joint and one solo abstract, or two joint abstracts. Additional questions can also be directed to that address.

*Though we use ‘Scandinavian’ here, following Holmberg & Platzack, in its common polyseme to refer to the North Germanic languages, there are also Scandinavian languages of the Finno-Ugric family, for example Northern Sámi. Papers dealing with those languages are extremely welcome.