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Cross-linguistic research in semantics has yielded significant insights into how natural languages encode meaning.  To date, prominent work in this tradition has tended to focus on contrasting typologically unrelated languages, as exemplified by Krifka (1995) on noun phrase semantics in English and Chinese, Matthewson (2001) on quantification in English and St’á’imcets, and Beck et al. (2009) on comparative constructions in 14 typologically diverse languages.

By comparison, relatively little work has considered more subtle semantic variation between closely related languages or dialects, an approach that has played an important role in syntactic theory (e.g. Henry 1995).  Yet the small body of existing research of this sort has illustrated the value of a microvariationist perspective in highlighting the semantic facts of individual languages, and in shedding light on potential semantic universals.  Examples of such work include Doetjes’ (2008) investigation of regularities and differences in degree and quantity modification in Romance and Germanic languages, Mayol & Castroviejo’s (2013) cross-Romance study of evaluative adverbs in questions, and Burnett’s (2012) work on adverbial quantification in two dialects of French, from which she derives implications for universals in quantifier meanings.

The goal of the workshop Microvariation in Semantics is to provide a forum for the presentation of research that investigates theoretical questions in semantics via the method of contrasting linguistic data from closely related languages and dialects.  The workshop will be hosted by the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), as a satellite event to Sinn und Bedeutung 22.

We are pleased to have Heather Burnett (CNRS) as the keynote speaker at the workshop.

SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE
Heather Burnett (CNRS),
Eva Csipak (Universität Konstanz),
Jenny Doetjes (Universiteit Leiden),
Stephanie Solt (ZAS Berlin),
Lucia Tovena (Université Paris 7),
Carla Umbach (ZAS Berlin / Universität zu Köln)

ORGANIZERS   Stephanie Solt, Carla Umbach

DATE         September 6, 2017
VENUE      Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS),  Berlin

CONTACT  umbach  at  zas dot gwz-berlin dot de

References
Beck, S. et al. 2009. Crosslinguistic variation in comparison constructions. Linguistic Variation Yearbook 9.
Burnett, H. 2012. The role of microvariation in the study of semantic universals: adverbial quantifiers in European and Québec French. Journal of Semantics 29, 1-38.
Doetjes J.S. 2008, Adjectives and degree modification. In: McNally L., Kennedy C. (Eds.) Adjectives and Adverbs: Syntax, Semantics, and Discourse, 123-155. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Henry, A. 1995.  Belfast English and Standard English: Dialect Variation and Parameter Setting.  Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Krifka, M. 1995. Common nouns: A contrastive analysis of English and Chinese. In G. N. Carlson & F. J. Pelletier (eds.), The Generic Book, 398-411. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Mayol, L. & E. Castroviejo. 2013.  (Non)integrated evaluative adverbs in questions: A cross-Romance study.  Language 89, 195-230
Matthewson, L.  2001.  Quantification and the nature of cross-linguistic variation. Natural Language Semantics 9, 145-189.

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