Tuesday, 22 November, 16.00-17 pm: Elizabeth Koier

How do speakers decide on an interpretation? The case of the Dutch poly-interpretable particle ergens

Venue: Lipsius, 235b

Dear fellow PhD-students,

Apart from your critical questions in reaction to my presentation at the PhD discussion group, I also need help of those of you who are native speakers of Dutch.
I have developed a survey to find out how speakers interpret ergens and I need to know whether the questions I ask are understandable and do-able and whether you think the survey is developed in a correct way. If you would be so kind to be willing to fill in the survey on the web, please send me an email (e.koier@hum.leidenuniv.nl) and I will send you the link. One of the things I would like to discuss with you in the discussion seminar is whether you think this setup will work, so it would be great if you have already filled it in beforehand.

Thanks a lot!


Tuesday, 18 October, 4.00-5 pm: Heleen Smits

Derived locative verbs in Lumun (Kordofanian), Heleen Smits

Lumun is a Kordofanian language spoken in the Nuba Mountains of (North-)Sudan by an estimated 7.000 speakers. Lumun verb stems end in a vowel: ɔ, a or ɛ, or in ɔt, at or ɛt. Many verbs occur both with and without a final t, but there are also verbs that cannot get a final t and there are verbs that are not attested without it.
Our question is: what is this final t about?
Example sentences will be presented, contrasting vowel-final verbs with t-final verbs. It is observed that, in many cases, the presence of the t makes the action place-oriented. Pragmatic factors play a role, e.g., if the place represents no new information, the t can or even must be left out. In certain verbs there are transitivity effects: where the vowel-final verb combines with a preposition + noun, the t-final counterpart takes the noun without preposition.

Monday 5 September, 4.00-5 pm: Josefine Karlsson

Phonological representation and self-monitoring in toddlers

Our aim was to investigate whether the often claimed discrepancy between the detailed storage of a word and its reduced production can be demonstrated in a production experiment. Additionally, we wanted to investigate whether toddlers can be induced to make self-repairs on a phonological level. We targeted the children’s phonological knowledge and self-monitoring by using stimuli with onset consonant clusters, which are typically difficult for young children.

Firstly, we recorded word pairs from Dutch 24-month-olds and 30-month-olds and conducted an error analysis of the onset clusters by comparing the distribution of correct and incorrect segments between the first (P1) and the second production (P2). We found a significant difference between P1 and P2 in target clusters starting with an /s/ in children aged 24 months. These results provide evidence that the error sometimes lies in the production process and that children can use self-monitoring on a phonological level.

Secondly, we presented the recorded child speech to Dutch adults. Their task was to decide which production in each word pair was more adult-like. The results showed that there was no overall preference for either P1 or P2. However, the adults noticed a difference between P1 and P2 in target clusters starting with an /s/. Hence, the results from the first and the second experiments corroborate.

Margarita Gulian, Tuesday 5 July, 4-5 pm, Lipsius 107

Temporal measures of reduced /sC/-clusters in toddler speech: Evidence for a detailed lexical specification

Cluster reduction is a common phenomenon in toddlers’ productions. The question in this paper is how toddlers store target complex onsets in their mental lexicon: are cluster reductions the result of an incomplete lexical specification? We focus on cluster reductions in /sC/-onsets, like in [li:p] for ‘sleep’. By means of a detailed acoustic analysis we compare toddlers’ productions of target /sC/-onsets that have been phonetically transcribed as reduced to a single consonant, to their productions of similar target words with a singleton consonant. The main finding in this study is that in the acoustic signal of reduced productions of target /sC/-onsets there is a temporal trace of the ‘deleted’ segment, providing evidence for a covert contrast between words with complex- and simple onsets. Toddlers’ lexical representations of /sC/-onsets thus appear to be complete.

Kathrin Linke and Marijn van ‘t Veer – Segmental substitution patterns in child language and aphasia

A salient characteristic of both child language and aphasia is that target segments are often produced unfaithfully. In this study of corpora of child language and aphasic language, we show that these substitution patterns are not random; we also show to what degree both groups perform alike, and where differences occur.

Background. The Regression Hypothesis (Jakobson 1941/1963) states that language attrition in aphasic patients mirrors stages of language acquisition in children. It has been shown that this claim has to be rejected on the segmental level. For the present study, we focus on the sub-segmental substitution patterns of aphasics and children, thus allowing for the investigation of a more nuanced version of the Regression Hypothesis.

Methodology. For each subject group, every segment in the consonant inventory of Dutch (e.g. Booij 1995) was compared with all of its actual realizations. This was done separately for onset and coda positions of monosyllabic words, to begin with. This yielded target-actual confusion matrices that were subsequently analyzed to determine the relative error frequency as a function of feature-based phonemic distance. Phonemic distance was measured using the PMV metric (e.g. Bailey & Hahn 2005). The contribution to the relative error frequency of each of the three dimensions (Place of Articulation, Manner of Articulation, Voice) was subsequently measured for both positions and each group.

Results. All groups show a non-random pattern of segment-for-segment substitutions. In most cases, the relative error frequency shows a decline for increasing phonological distance. A comparison between the younger and older children reveals that the latter perform better over all. Furthermore, for both child groups, there is an important difference between single dimensional errors, i.e. errors of only PoA, MoA or Voice, and errors that involve multiple dimensions, in that the latter occur far less often. The aphasic patients pattern with the older children, but show less sensitivity to phonological distance.

Conclusions. The data reveal that neither aphasics, nor children at various developmental stages show random substitutions. Our results resemble findings by White & Morgan (2008), who showed gradient sensitivity of infants to increasing degrees of mispronunciations in perception studies. So, although the Regression Hypothesis is too strong when considered at the segmental level, new and interesting results can be found in the sub-segmental domain.

15 June, 4.00-5 pm: Judith Nobels

Pronominal terms of address in Dutch: new insights from seventeenth-century letters

Venue: Lipsius 148

The history of the Dutch terms of address has been a topic of a long linguistic debate. Many of the articles published in the 20th century focused on the origin of various personal pronouns, leaving the use of these pronouns somewhat underexposed (Van den Toorn 1977: 525). For the seventeenth century, however, Van Leuvensteijn (2002) examined the terms of address in the correspondence of the patrician Maria van Reigersberch. On the basis of the Letters as Loot-corpus we can take this research one step further and examine how terms of address were used by various ranks of the seventeenth-century society in the West of the Dutch Republic, rather than by one individual from the upper class. In this presentation I will show how the general terms of address for the singular (gij, jij, and u) on the one hand, and the epistolary terms (U.L. and U.E.) on the other are distributed across social class and sex. The influence of the relationship between sender and addressee on the terms of address used will be examined too.

On Collectives in Eastern Tarifiyt and Eastern Moroccan Arabic

In Moroccan Arabic, as in other Arabic dialects, such as Classical Arabic, there is a distinction between so-called collective nouns and unity nouns, e.g. l-beṭṭix ‘melon (collective)’, l-beṭṭix-a ‘one individuated melon (singular unity noun)’, l-beṭṭix-at ‘several individuated melons (plural unity noun)’. The collective noun is used when individuation is irrelevant. Most Berber languages, including Eastern Tarifiyt, also have such a system, mostly with loanwords from Arabic, and mostly in the lexical domain of vegetables and fruit. An example in Eastern Tarifiyt is l-beṭṭix ‘melon (collective)’, a-beṭṭix- ‘one individuated melon (singular unity noun)’, and i-beṭṭix-in ‘several individuated melons (plural unity noun)’. Native Berber words follow the Berber system, e.g. axsay ‘courgette (singular)’, ixsayin ‘courgettes (plural)’. The idea is that the collective/unity-noun system came along with the loanwords (cf. Kossmann 2008), thereby yielding a parallel system within Eastern Tarifiyt: one with Arabic loanwords, and one with native Berber words. In this presentation I will concentrate on morphology and lexical distribution, but will also touch upon the actual usage of these forms.


Correlatives in New Testament Greek

The correlative construction, characterized by a pre-posed relative clause (RC) adjoined to a matrix clause, finds itself in all branches of the oldest Indo-European languages: Hittite, Vedic Sanskrit and Latin. Correlatives remain as a relativization strategy in Modern Hindi:

        (1)     jo laRkii khaRii hai vo lambii hai
                REL girl standing is DEM tall is
                ‘The girl who is standing is tall’
                (lit, ‘Which girl is standing, this one is tall)

Although correlatives also have a long history in Greek, they have not received proper attention in the historical or theoretical literature. In this talk, I discuss correlatives from the (relatively late) Koiné period, using the Greek New Testament (after 45 AD) as a corpus. I will show that the structure of the RC in correlative sentences is similar to that of the NT Greek wh-question, involving an articulated Left Periphery. Evidence comes from particle and verb placement, as well as case phenomena.

Word Order Variation in Possessive Constructions in Mundabli (Western Beboid) – a Case of External Possession?


Mundabli is a Western Beboid language spoken in the Northwest Province of Cameroon. The genetic setup and affiliation of Western Beboid are far from clear and research on these languages is still in its initial stages.


Taking a look at possession in Mundabli, we find that there are two different constructions which both involve a possessive relation between two referents. The most common construction is the simple possessive construction in which the word order is Possessum + Possessor, as in fo ŋkɯŋ ‘my cap’ or fo ŋkʊŋ ‘the cap of the chief’, without a (segmental) associative particle intervening. The alternative construction usually has slightly different (and more restricted) semantics/pragmatics. Formally, it differs from the common possessive construction in two aspects:


(a) the precedence relationship between Possessum and Possessor is reversed, so that the Possessum usually follows the Possessor (though the hypothesis is that they are no longer part of the same phrase),


(b) the pronominal Possessor does not take the form of a possessive pronoun but that of a simple pronoun.


This can be seen in the example of external possession given below:


ʃaŋ                dɯ   mɯ  wuŋ

sand loc.COP 1SG nose ‘There’s sand in my nose.’

(literally: ‘sand is me at/in the nose’; loc.COP=locative copula)


This construction seems to be semantically restricted to body parts and at least one kinship relation (child). This is typically the case for external possession (or possessor raising).

In external possession there is often a part-whole relationship between Possessum and Possessor involved. Semantically, “it often involves a significant change of state in the referent of the possessor” while “from a syntactic viewpoint, Possessor Raising [or external possession] creates an independent clausal argument out of a constituent of an NP”. (Comrie & Polinsky 1999). In my presentation I will present data collected during two field trips to Cameroon and discuss the status of the examples found. Are the described cases really instances of external possession?



Comrie, Bernard & Maria Polinsky (1999).‘Possessor raising in a language that does not have any’. In Doris L. Payne and Emmanuel Barshi, eds.: External Possession, 523–542. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Evidentiality and Involvement in the native languages of South-America: teasing apart semantic categories

In many South American languages some kind of evidentiality is expressed. However, in the existing grammatical descriptions of these languages the category of evidentiality is not always adequately described or even recognized. One of the problems is that the term evidentiality is used both with a broad interpretation and with a narrow interpretation. In order to grasp the general nature of this category, it is very important to determine its constitutive parts and tease out the different semantic categories that are involved in the expression of evidentiality. The relationship between evidentiality and epistemic modality has been quite well studied, whereas the relationship between evidentiality and involvement of the speaker has hardly been studied at all. In this paper I will make a first attempt to first establish and unravel this relationship.

In this paper, I use the terms ‘evidentiality’ and ‘speaker involvement’ as follows: semantically, evidentiality is used in a narrow sense to mean the marking of the source of information. When it comes to the form of this marking, the use of the term is much more broad. That is, not just grammatical marking of the source of information is included in this study, as Aikhenvald (2003) defines the term; any type of material, such as morphology, periphrastic constructions, syntactic constructions etc. can be used in order to express the source of information. The term involvement (of the speaker) is used as a semantic category to express the physical, mental or social participation of the speaker in the event he or she is describing. This can also be expressed formally in many different ways.

A first indication of the relation evidentiality and involvement of the speaker can be found in what Aikhenvald (2004:219) calls the ‘first person’ effect. These effects consist of the reduced involvement of the speaker when a less direct evidential is used. This is illustrated by example (1) from Tucano. Because of the use of the non-visual form –asï, the speaker shows that he was not consciously involved in the breaking of the plate. When the speaker applies a visual evidential as in example (2), he or she is suddenly consciously involved in the breaking of the plate.

This lack of involvement is not only found with first person subjects. In his doctoral thesis, Michael (2008) shows how ‘information responsibility’ and ‘event responsibility’ are tied together in the Arawakan language Nanti. That is to say, in Nanti indirect evidential forms are not only used to express that the speaker does not have direct information, but also to express that the speaker has no responsibility pertaining to the event; he or she was not involved in the event.

Both the ‘first person’ effects of evidentials and the use of evidentials to express (the lack of) event responsibility indicate that there is a relation between evidentiality and the involvement of the speaker. This paper will address different phenomena that indicate this relation. Understanding the interrelatedness of the different semantic components which constitute different aspects of evidentiality will undoubtedly give us a tool by which we can more readily identify and analyze evidentiality both conceptually and formally.


(1) bapá bopê-asï. (Ramirez 1997:133)
     plate break-REC.P.NVIS.NON3
‘I have broken a plate unintentionally.’

(2) bapá bopê-apï. (Ramirez 1997:133)
     plate break-REC.P.VIS.NON3
‘I have broken a plate intentionally.’



Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (2004). Evidentiality. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Michael, L.D. (2008). Nanti evidential practice: Language, knowledge, and social action in an Amazonian society. PhD Dissertation. University of Texas, Austin.

Ramirez, Henri (1997). A fala tukano dos yepâ-masa. Tomo I: Gramática. Inspectoria Salesiana Missionária da Amazônia, CEDEM, Manaus.