SOAS     2013 Annual Meeting of the
Linguistics Association of Great Britain

28 - 31 August 2013

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Workshop on Primate Grammar | Workshop on Morphology

Workshop on Comparative Morphology and Morphological Theory

31st August 2013, School of Oriental and African Studies, London

Organised by Matthew Baerman and Daniel Harbour

This workshop on morphology will be held in conjunction with Jonathan Bobaljik's Linguistics Association Lecture at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain 2013.

Download the call for papers:

Plenary speaker

  • Jonathan Bobaljik (UConn) - 'Morphological universals and the hidden structure of words'


Morphology is about bits: words as bits of sentences, morphemes as bits of words, features as bits of morphemes. So, morphologists ought to be able to answer two basic questions. When two bits are the same (is the -th of tenth the same as the -th of health)? And how bitty should our bits be (is health really heal-th; how about wealth as weal-th)? Unlike syntax-semantics and phonology-phonetics, where data sets are open-ended, morphologists' data for a given language are often exhausted by a few paradigms or a small list of closed class items. This makes it difficult to test predictions or to disentangle explicanda from accidents and principles from coincidences. Generality in morphology must, in consequence, come from comparison, making morphological theory a quintessentially comparative enterprise. Comparative morphology has received special impetus from the recent upwelling of high quality typological studies on diverse grammatical themes. As morphological theory responds to these, and instigates others, it raises questions that are foundational, methodological, and evidential.
  • We must ask whether all conceptions of morphological theory equally amenable to comparative research. For instance, are word forms better understood as concatenations of morphemes or as cells in paradigms? When are paradigms too coarse, or morphemes too fine, for crosslinguistic comparison?
  • We must articulate the proper relationship between theory and typology, and between the general and the specific. For instance, what is the right balance between the abstraction needed for comparison and attention to language-particular idiosyncrasies? Are idiosyncrasies an object of enquiry in their own right, or are they obstacles to be cleared away in the search for generalizations?
  • And we must recognize that there may be limits to the kinds of morphology compatible with comparative analysis. For instance, if one looks at, say, person-number, then case, then conjugation classes, one observes a cline from semantic transparentness to lexicalarbitrariness: does this limit the applicability of the comparative approach? Do diachrony and dialectology, special forms of comparative data, offer special insights, or pitfalls, to the comparative enterprise?
We invite submissions addressing these issues or any others pertinent to the study of morphological theory in the light of comparative morphology.

Call for papers

The organizing committee invites submissions addressing issues pertinent to the study of morphological theory in the light of comparative morphology. Papers will be selected on their (perceived) merits, and not according to their subject matter or theoretical framework.  All abstracts will be blind-peer-reviewed by an international committee of reviewers. Both members and non-members are invited to offer papers for the meeting. The normal length for papers delivered at LAGB meetings is 25 minutes (plus 15 minutes discussion).  The deadline for submissions for the Workshop on Comparative Morphology and Morphological Theory is 1st May 2013. All enquiries about abstract submission should be directed to the Meetings Secretary, Oliver Bond (

Abstract format

Abstracts must be no longer than one A4 page with margins of 2.5cm on all sides. Only the first page of any abstract submitted will be considered – no appendices or pages for references can be accepted. If the formatting instructions are not followed the abstract may not be considered. You may use single spacing with type no smaller than 12 points. Please indicate clearly on the anonymous abstract that your presentation is intended for the 'Workshop on Comparative Morphology and Morphological Theory'. 

Abstracts must be submitted anonymously and should include no indication of the author’s identity. The submitted files should be in PDF format. Any phonetic characters should either be embedded in the PDF file or be in the Doulos SIL font, which can be downloaded for free from this site:


How to submit and abstract

Each person is permitted to submit a maximum of one single-authored paper and one joint-authored paper. All abstracts should be submitted electronically using EasyChair, which can be accessed at the following address: 

To be able to submit an abstract through the LAGB submission page you must use your existing EasyChair login details or sign up for an EasyChair account (at the link above). Once you have created an account/signed in:
  • Click on the 'New Submission' link at the top of the page;
  • Agree to the terms and conditions (if prompted);
  • Fill in the relevant information about the authors of the paper;
  • Provide the title of the presentation in the 'Title' box and repeat it in the 'Abstract' box (do not type or paste your abstract in this box);
  • Type three or more keywords into the 'Keyword' box (these will help us choose a suitable reviewer for your abstract);
  • Upload a PDF of your abstract by clicking on the 'Choose file' button (leaving the 'Abstract only' checkbox unchecked).
If you are applying for a conference bursary your abstract should be submitted in the normal way using the EasyChair system, but you must also fill in a bursary application form on the LAGB website: For further details on the eligibility criteria for a conference bursary, download the First Circular 2013:


Content of abstracts

The following guidelines may be useful:
  • You should clearly describe the paper’s general topic. The topic may be a problem of theory or analysis or set of data which have not previously been analysed.
  • You should describe your treatment of the topic, and how it relates to previous work on the same topic. (When referring to previous work, it is enough to cite “Author (Date)” in the body of the abstract without giving full bibliographical details.) It is not acceptable simply to promise a solution.
  • You should explain how you will justify your treatment, and cite crucial evidence. If you are taking a stand on a controversial issue, summarise the arguments that lead you to take up this position.

Further details

Details on how to register for this event and other sessions taking place as part of LAGB 2013 will be available in May 2013. To submit a paper for the General Session of the LAGB, please see the call for papers.
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