GIST6: Complementizer Agreement & Subjects Workshops

  • 12 Jan 2012 09:16
    Message # 793045

    Dear colleague,

    GIST (Ghent University) and University of Missouri are proud to announce the 6th GIST conference on Complementizer Agreement and Subjects.
    This conference will consist of two workshops: the Complementizer Agreement Workshop (17 October 2012) & the Subjects Workshop (18-19 October 2012).

    For our Complementizer Agreement Workshop we invited several linguists renowned for their work on this topic. The complete list can be found on our website.
    Three more invited speakers will present their work during the Subjects Workshop: Anna Cardinaletti, Jim McCloskey and Dominique Sportiche, but we encourage everyone interested in presenting a paper at this workshop to submit an abstract by 1 May.

    Below you will find the call for papers for the Subjects Workshop and the theme description. Please check our website for more information:

    Best wishes,

    The Organizing Committee of GIST6


    Subjects Workshop
    Ghent, Belgium

    Important dates

    Abstract submission deadline: 1 May 2012
    Notification: 1 July 2012
    18-19 October 2012

    Invited speakers

    Anna Cardinaletti

    Jim McCloskey

    Dominique Sportiche


    Theme description

    Although the notion of subject is shared across frameworks, the concept is notoriously difficult to define (Keenan 1976 and much subsequent work). There is, however, a tacit consensus in the linguistics literature that subjects stand apart from other arguments, being associated with a distinct set of syntactic properties, proto-typically including the following:

    • the subject is ‘uniquely’ identified: every clause has one subject;
    • the subject seems obligatory: non-pro drop languages employ expletive subjects where there is no lexical subject;
    • the subject typically agrees with the finite verb;  
    • the subject is hierarchically the highest nominal in the clause;
    • extraction of /from subjects is highly restricted (Ross 1967);
    • subjects may/must be null in imperatives and in infinitivals;
    • in V2 languages, subject initial V2 sentences are shown to differ from non subject initial V2 sentences (Cardinaletti 1997; Zwart 1997a, 1997b);
    • subjects are typically topics.


    Further research has revealed that the subject properties listed above are not always linked to one particular position in the clause. With the articulated structures of the IP domain (Pollock 1989) came the need to distinguish subject positions (Bobaljik and Jonas 1996). Accumulating evidence led to the VP-internal subject hypothesis (Sportiche 1988; Koopman & Sportiche 1991; Kuroda 1988; Kitagawa 1986; McCloskey 1997), according to which the subject is merged in a VP-internal thematic position and moved to its canonical position, SpecIP, due to some formal requirement. The recent cartographic approach to clause structure has led to a further diversification of subject positions, such as AgrCP, SubjP, AgrP and FinP, with various implementations (Shlonsky 1994; Cardinaletti 1997, 2004; Cinque 1999, 2004; Rizzi 2004, Rizzi & Shlonsky 2005; Ledgeway 2010).

    In this workshop, we would like to examine the above-mentioned subject properties and their repercussions for the architecture of the clause. Specifically, we invite abstracts addressing questions including, but not limited to, the following:

    1. To what extent is the concept ‘canonical subject position’ valid and what are its defining properties? Do ‘non subjects’ ever occupy this position?

    2.   Is there a unique subject position, or are there several subject positions, each associated with a different property? If so, how can we define these positions and how do they explain the properties listed above?

    3.   Postverbal subjects in SVO languages exhibit properties that are different from preverbal subjects in these languages and also from postverbal subjects in VSO languages, such as  definiteness, focus, Case and agreement (Milsark 1974; Fassi-Fehri 1993; Zubizarreta 1998). How can we best account for these differences; for example, are they linked to distinct positions?

    4. There are also several questions that surround the nature of the movement to the subject positions that have been identified. For instance:

    - is the movement to each of these positions triggered by a different feature?

    - how does the movement proceed? For example, does it move through every specifier position on the way, or just via the phase-edge?

    - some argue that movement of a subject is triggered by the EPP. Can the EPP be understood in terms of more fundamental properties of grammar?

    5. There is empirical evidence that in some languages clauses may have more than one subject. This is illustrated by ‘possessor raising’ or so-called ‘broad subjects’ in languages such as Hebrew, Hungarian, Japanese and Korean (Heycock 1993; Doron & Heycock 1999, 2010; Landau 2011; Vermeulen 2005; Yoon 2009). What distinguishes the subject positions in these languages from the position(s) in languages that allow only a unique subject?

    6. With the development of the concept ‘small clause’ came the proposal that units other than full clauses may also have subject positions (Stowell 1983; Szabolcsi 1983). Do these positions differ from subject positions in full clauses, and if so, in what respect?

    7. It has been proposed that clauses cannot occupy the canonical subject position (Koster 1978). Can subjects be of a category other than DP? If so, what consequences does this have for the theories of Case and agreement?

    Abstract Guidelines

    Abstracts are invited for a 30-minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of discussion. An author may submit at most one single and one joint abstract. Abstracts should be anonymous, and at most 2 pages in 12-point font with 1'' margins, including data and references. They should be submitted via e-mail to to as both pdf and Word files. You will always get a confirmation that we received your abstract.


    Organising Committee

    Lobke Aelbrecht                                      Anne Breitbarth

    Liisa Buelens                                          Vicki Carstens

    Lieven Danckaert                                    Karen De Clercq

    Tijs D'Hulst                                              Liliane Haegeman                                   

    Will Harwood                                           Eric Lander

    Rachel Nye                                              Amélie Rocquet

    Aleksandra Vercauteren                          Reiko Vermeulen


    Organising institutions

    Ghent University/FWO Odysseus Project

    University of Missouri



    Bobaljik, Jonathan and Diane Jonas. 1996. Subject positions and the role of TP. Linguistic Inquiry 27: 195-236.

    Cardinaletti, Anna. 1997. Subjects and clause structure. In L. Haegeman (ed.) The New Comparative Syntax. London: Addison, Wesley, Longman, 33-63.

    Cardinaletti, Anna. 2004. Towards a cartography of subject positions. In L. Rizzi (ed.) The structure of CP and IP. New York: Oxford University Press, 115-165.

    Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and the Universal Hierarchy of Functional Projections. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Cinque, Guglielmo. 2004. “Restructuring” and functional structure. In Structures and beyond: The cartography of syntactic structures, volume 3, ed. by Adriana Belletti, 132-191.

    Doron, Edit, and Caroline Heycock. 1999. Filling and licensing multiple specifiers. In Adger, D., S. Pintzuk, B. Plunkett, and G. Tsoulas (eds.), Specifiers: Minimalist Approaches. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 69–89.

    Doron, Edit, and Caroline Heycock. 2010. In support of broad subjects in Hebrew. Lingua 120: 1764–1776.

    Fassi-Fehri, Abdelkader. 1993. Issues in the Structure of Arabic Clauses and Words. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    Keenan, Edward L. 1976. ‘Towards a Universal Definition of ‘Subject’’, in: Charles N. Li (ed.) Subject and Topic. New York: Academic Press, 303-333.

    Kitagawa, Yoshihisa. 1986. Subjects in Japanese and English. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

    Koopman, Hilda and Dominique Sportiche 1991. The position of subjects. Lingua 85.2/3: 211-258.

    Koster, Jan. 1978. Why subject sentences don’t exist. In S. Keyser (ed.) Recent Transformational Studies in European Languages. Cambridge: MIT Press.

    Kuroda, Shige-Yuki. 1988. Whether we agree or not: a comparative syntax of English and Japanese, Lingvisticae Investigationes 12, 1-47

    Landau, Idan. 2011. Alleged broad subjects in Hebrew: A rejoinder to Doron & Heycock (2010). Lingua 121: 129-141.

    Ledgeway, Adam. 2010. Subject licensing in CP: the Neapolitan double-subject Construction. In P. Benincà and N. Munaro (eds.) The Cartography of Syntactic Structures Vol. 5: Mapping the Left Periphery. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 257-296.

    Milsark, Gary. 1974. Existential sentences in English. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.

    Pollock, Jean-Yves. 1989. Verb movement, Universal Grammar, and the structure of IP. Linguistic Inquiry 20:365-424.

    Rizzi, Luigi. 2004. On the form of chains: criterial positions and ECP effects. Ms. University Siena.

    Rizzi, Luigi, and Ur Shlonsky. 2005. Strategies of subject extraction. In H-M. Gärtner & U. Sauerland (eds.) Interfaces + Recursion = Language?, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. pp. 115-160.

    Ross, John R. 1967. Constraints on variables in syntax. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.

    Shlonsky, Ur. 1994. Agreement in Comp. The Linguistic Review 11: 351-375.

    Sportiche, Dominique. 1988. A theory of floating quantifiers and its corollaries for constituent structure. Linguistic Inquiry 19.2: 425-451.

    Vermeulen, Reiko. 2005. Possessive and adjunct multiple nominative constructions in Japanese. Lingua 115: 1329-1363.

    Stowell, Tim. 1983. Subjects Across Categories. The Linguistic Review 2: 285–312.

    Szabolcsi, Anna. 1983. The possessor that ran away from home. The Linguistic Review 3: 89–102.

    Yoon, James. 2009. The distribution of subject properties in multiple subject constructions. In Y. Takubo, T. Kinuhata, S. Grzelak, and K. Nagai (eds.), Japanese/Korean Linguistics 16, CSLI: Stanford, CA. pp. 64-83.

    Zubizarreta, Maria Luisa. 1998. Prosody, focus and word order. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

    Zwart, Jan-Wouter. 1997a. Morphosyntax of verb movement. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    Zwart, Jan-Wouter. 1997b. The Germanic SOV Languages and the Universal Base Hypothesis. In L. Haegeman (ed.) The New Comparative Syntax. London and New   
    York: Longman, 246-267.
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