Monday, 23 October, 2017 - 13:30 to 15:00

Using Typology to Develop Guidelines for Universal Dependencies: Issues with Modification Constructions

Language structures are incredibly diverse. But for practical purposes, we have to carve up this continuum of language phenomena. Two practical purposes are teaching typological syntax to undergraduates and the Universal Dependencies project, which are similar in their goals. In this talk I will describe principles to motivate a set of universal dependencies, but mainly focus on specific typological universals that can help in developing guidelines to apply UD to specific language constructions. In some cases, uniform guidelines are typologically well-motivated, but in other cases, it might be worth revisiting the inventory of UD dependencies. This talk focuses on the particularly vexing problems with modification constructions, including different types of modifiers, modification vs. compounds, and numeral classifiers and so-called pseudo-partitive constructions.


William Croft received his Ph.D. in 1986 at Stanford University under Joseph Greenberg. He has taught at the Universities of Michigan, Manchester (UK) and New Mexico, and has been a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute of Psycholinguistics (Niijmegen, the Netherlands) the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Leipzig, Germany), and at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. He has written several books, including Typology and Universals, Explaining Language Change, Radical Construction Grammar, Cognitive Linguistics [with D. Alan Cruse] and Verbs: Aspect and Causal Structure. He is currently finishing his next book, Morphosyntax: Constructions of the World\u001D’s Languages. His primary research areas are typology, semantics, construction grammar and language change. He has argued that grammatical structure can only be understood in terms of the variety of constructions used to express functions across languages; that both qualitative and quantitative methods are necessary for grammatical analysis; and that the study of language structure must be situated in the dynamics of evolving conventions of language use in social interaction.