CRISSP (KU Leuven) and UiL OTS (Universiteit Utrecht), as part of the joint NWO/FWO project ‘The Syntax of Idioms’, are proud to present the 8th Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics: The grammar of idioms.
According to the Fregean principle of compositionality, the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and the rules used to combine them. This principle is flouted in the case of idioms (cf. Katz & Postal 1963; Fraser 1970; Katz 1973; Chomsky 1980; Machonis 1985; Schenk 1994; Grégoire 2009; among others). Every language contains idiomatic expressions which, by definition, denote a meaning that is not simply derivable from (the combination of) the meanings of the individual lexical items of that expression. A canonical example is kick the bucket, the meaning of which has nothing to do with either kicking or buckets; it simply means ‘to die’. The existence of such expressions within natural language gives rise to many questions which have puzzled linguists for years, such as how these phrases are formed syntactically, whether they are restricted to certain structural domains, or how it is that we are able to deduce the idiomatic interpretation of such phrases despite there being no clues as to their meanings within any of the individual lexical items that comprise these expressions.
The purpose of this workshop is to discuss and explore the phenomenon of idioms with the aim of gaining better theoretical and empirical insights into how such expressions are able to occur within natural language, and what sorts of rules of language they are governed by.