Friday, October 21, 2016

Onomastics Workshop at the 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea

When a new person, place, thing, or idea is introduced into a language community, it is customary that the language users develop a name to designate the newcomer. Two of the most common linguistic strategies for developing names are borrowing preexisting names from other language communities and forming entirely new names. From the 10th to the 13th of September 2017, a workshop will be held in Zurich, Switzerland on the historical interaction between borrowing and word-formation in naming. This workshop will be held as a part of the 50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE). The deadline for abstract submissions (max. 300 words, excluding references) for the workshop is October 25, 2016.

Full Title:The Grammar of Names

Location:Zurich, Switzerland
Start Date:10-Sep-2017 - 13-Sep-2017
Contact:Barbara Schlücker
Meeting Email:click here to access email
Meeting Description:Research on proper names has thus far mainly been concerned with diachronic changes, thereby focusing on etymological problems and the history of names. In linguistics and the philosophy of language there has also been abundant research on the semantics of proper names and the distinction between proper names and common nouns. In contrast, questions about the grammar of proper names have received comparatively little attention in the literature. Although there are a few aspects that have been discussed in some detail recently, for instance, the diachronic development of inflectional marking, in general many questions remain open or have not even been posed yet. One explanation for this is that proper names do not form a homogeneous class with respect to their grammatical status but, rather, there are quite a number of different simplex and complex morphological and syntactic constructions being subsumed under this category. Among other things, it has been shown that

- (Particular subclasses of) proper names have deviant phonotactic and prosodic properties.
- In inflection-rich languages such as German proper names form an inflectional class of their own which has undergone deflection and is characterized by the absence of almost all inflectional markers and allomorphy.
- Proper names may exhibit particular syntactic properties, such as the position of the genitive or the use in close apposition constructions.
- Proper names often take articles showing a deviant functional and syntactic behaviour.
- With regard to gender, proper names seem to follow special gender assignment principles: during proprialization they often leave their former common noun gender and adopt a different gender, depending on the object they refer to.
- In word-formation, they may make use of specific onymic patterns, e.g. specific onymic derivational affixes that can be used for the formation of names exclusively as well as deonymic affixes that take only proper names as their basis.

The central question of the workshop is in which way and to which extent proper names deviate from non-proprial expressions and whether it is legitimate – or even necessary – to posit a specific grammar of proper names. To this end, we invite both language-specific and cross-linguistic contributions, including dialectal studies, both from a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. We especially encourage new insights driven by large corpus-oriented data from theoretical linguistics, historical linguistics, language typology, and variational linguistics.

Topics to be explored include, but are not restricted to, the following:

- What is the morphosyntactic status of (different kinds) of complex proper names? What are the implications for grammatical theory?
- Are there specific patterns of phonological deviance in proper names in a given language?
- Are there differences between different classes of proper names with regard to their morphosyntactic and/or phonological properties?
- Which patterns of onymic word formation can be observed, both language-specifically and cross-linguistically?
- Are there competing patterns of morphological and syntactic constructions with proper names?


Antje Dammel (U Freiburg)
Johannes Helmbrecht (U Regensburg)
Damaris Nübling (U Mainz)
Barbara Schlücker (U Bonn)
Thomas Stolz (U Bremen)
Linguistic Subfield:General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Typology