Call for papers

BCGL 16: The morphosyntax of speaker and hearer

The Center for Research in Syntax, Semantics, and Phonology (CRISSP) of KU Leuven invites abstracts for the 16th edition of the Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics (BCGL 16), to be held on 5–6 October 2023. The conference will take place in Brussels and the theme of BCGL 16 is The morphosyntax of speaker and hearer.

Different languages employ different strategies to express the relationship between the speaker and the hearer, or to express the speaker’s attitude towards (the contents of) her utterance. This conference will focus specifically on the strategies that involve morphosyntactic properties of the languages in question and on how to represent these phenomena in a formal grammatical model.

Several authors have agreed that speaker/hearer‐related elements are part of the syntactic representation. Many proposals pursuing this idea suggest a high, left‐peripheral functional domain in the clause that serves as the locus for such elements (see a.o. Ross 1970, Speas and Tenny 2003, Hill 2007, Giorgi 2010, Sigurðsson 2004, 2014, Miyagawa 2012, 2017, 2022, Haegeman and Hill 2013, Haegeman 2014, Wiltschko 2014, 2021, Krifka 2015, 2019, Heim and Wiltschko 2017, Zanuttini 2017, Miyagawa and Hill To appear). In addition, similar peripheral structure has also been proposed for clause‐internal and other non‐clausal domains (Bayer and Obenauer 2011, Trotzke 2015, 2018, Corver 2016, Biberauer 2018).

BCGL16 wants to further explore this general topic by focusing on empirical phenomena that encode speaker/hearer elements. These include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Allocutivity, a term first used to describe cases in Basque where a non‐argumental addressee is encoded on the verb (see Bonaparte 1862), has recently been extended to refer more broadly to the left‐peripheral encoding of features of the hearer, the speaker’s attitude towards the hearer (Antonov 2015, Haddican 2019), the relationship between speaker and hearer, and also the degree of formality of the interaction (Miyagawa 2012, 2017, 2022, Antonov 2015, Haddican 2019, Portner et al. 2019, Alok and Baker 2022, Kaur and Yamada 2022).
  • Modal particles (also called discourse particles/markers) have a range of functions, among them to express the relationship between the speaker and the hearer/event (Cardinaletti 2011, 2015, Coniglio 2012, Haegeman 2014, Thoma 2016) or to mitigate or strengthen the utterance (Fehringer and Cornips 2019).
  • Imperatives is a clause‐type that has been argued to syntactically encode the addressee/hearer in a unique 2nd person projection (Potsdam 1998, Rupp 1999, 2003, Jensen 2003, Zanuttini 2008, Zanuttini et al. 2012, Alcázar and Saltarelli 2014, Kaur 2020). Imperatives also employ other speaker/hearer‐strategies (for example modal particles (Fehringer and Cornips 2019) or allocutives (Kaur 2020)) in order to mitigate or strengthen the imperative or to encode familiarity with the hearer.
  • Relatedly, promissives always refer to the speaker (as the one promising to do something), and exhortatives always refer to both the speaker and hearer (as them doing something together) (Zanuttini et al. 2012).
  • Exclamatives are speech acts which convey the speaker’s attitude or perspective and can take a form similar to wh‐questions (wh‐exclamatives) or to yes/no questions (yes/no‐exclamatives) (Zanuttini and Portner 2000). Negative exclamatives are further examples of a linguistic form that can be used to convey the speaker’s perspective. They can, for example, be used to emphasize the speaker’s surprise about a certain event (Delfitto and Fiorin 2014, Greco et al. 2019, Greco 2020).
  • Insubordination is the main clause use of something that looks like a subordinate clause to express the speaker’s attitude or manage speaker/hearer interactions (Evans 2007, D’Hertefelt 2018).
  • Progressives are periphrastic constructions in which motion and posture verbs are used as ‘light’ verbs to indicate progressive aspect. These constructions often indicate frustration or surprise by the speaker (Copley and Roy 2015, Tellier 2015, Anthonissen et al. 2016, Breed 2017).

We invite abstracts addressing the theoretical insights that generative syntax and morphology could offer in relation to, for example, the sizes of these speaker/hearer‐domains, the feature inventories associated with encoding speaker and hearer, optionality of elements in this domain, and syntax‐interface mappings. Furthermore, we welcome abstracts with a comparative perspective (both synchronic and diachronic) on speaker/hearer‐elements and also studies that look at languages that have not been considered in this regard. We are also interested in papers that offer insights into the acquisition and development of these speaker/hearer‐related phenomena and that are concerned with the role of language contact in the development of these elements. Moreover, we invite abstracts that consider these phenomena in spoken language compared to written language.

Invited speakers

Organizing Committee

  • Engela de Villiers (KU Leuven–CRISSP, Stellenbosch University)
  • Jeroen van Craenenbroeck (KU Leuven–CRISSP, Meertens Institute)
  • Theresa Biberauer (University of Cambridge, Stellenbosch University, University of the Western Cape, CRISSP)
  • Guido Vanden Wyngaerd (KU Leuven–CRISSP)
  • Dany Jaspers (KU Leuven–CRISSP)
  • Tanja Temmerman (Université Saint‐Louis, CRISSP)
  • Anne Breitbarth (Ghent University)
  • Cora Cavirani‐Pots (KU Leuven–CRISSP)
  • Edoardo Cavirani (KU Leuven–CRISSP)
  • Jianrong Yu (KU Leuven–CRISSP)
  • Nikos Angelopoulos (University of Crete, CRISSP)
  • Lena Heynen (KU Leuven–CRISSP)
  • Anastasiia Vyshnevska (KU Leuven–CRISSP)

Abstract Guidelines

Abstracts should not exceed two pages, including data, references, and diagrams. Abstracts should be typed in at least 11‐point font, with one‐inch margins (letter‐size; 8.5 by 11 inch or A4) and a maximum of 50 lines of text per page. Abstracts must be anonymous and submissions are limited to max. 2 per author, at most one of which is single‐authored. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please submit your abstract using the EasyChair link for BCGL 16.

Important dates

  • First call for papers: 13 February 2023
  • Second call for papers: 13 March 2023
  • Abstract submission deadline: 3 April 2023
  • Notification of acceptance: 2 June 2023
  • Conference: 5‐6 October 2023

Conference webpage:


  • Alcázar, Asier, and Mario Saltarelli. 2014. The syntax of imperatives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Alok, Deepak, and Mark Baker. 2022. Person and honorification: Features and interactions in Magahi. Glossa 7:1–35.
  • Anthonissen, Lynn, Astrid De Wit, and Tanja Mortelmans. 2016. Aspect meets modality: A semantic analysis of the German am‐progressive. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 28:1–30.
  • Antonov, Anton. 2015. Verbal allocutivity in a crosslinguistic perspective. Linguistic Typology 19:55–85.
  • Bayer, Josef, and Hans‐Georg Obenauer. 2011. Discourse particles, clause structure, and question types. The Linguistic Review 28:449–491.
  • Biberauer, Theresa. 2018. Peripheral significance: a phasal perspective on the grammaticalisation of speaker perspective. York: DiGS 20.
  • Bonaparte, Louis‐Lucien. 1862. Langue basque et langues finnoises. London: Strangeways & Walden.
  • Breed, Adri. 2017. The subjective use of postural verbs in Afrikaans: a corpus analysis of cpv en in ze Afrikaans. Stellenbosch papers in linguistics 52:23–43.
  • Cardinaletti, Anna. 2011. German and italian modal particles and clause structure. The Linguistic Review 28:493–553.
  • Cardinaletti, Anna. 2015. Italian verb‐based discourse particles in a comparative perspective. In Discourse oriented syntax, ed. Josef Bayer, Roland Hinterholzl, and Andreas Trotzke, 71–91. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Co.
  • Coniglio, Marco. 2012. Modal particles, speaker‐hearer links, and illocutionary force. In Modality and theory of mind elements across languages, ed. W. Abraham and E. Leiss, 253–296. Berlin: De Gruyter.
  • Copley, Bridget, and Isabelle Roy. 2015. Deriving the readings of French être en train de. In Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory, ed. Enoch Aboh, Petra Sleeman, and Jeannette Schaeffer, 103–118. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
  • Corver, Norbert. 2016. Emotion in the build of Dutch: Deviation, augmentation and duplication. Tijdschrift voor Nederlandse Taal‐ en Letterkunde 132:232–275.
  • Delfitto, Denis, and Gaetano Fiorin. 2014. Negation in exclamatives. Studia Linguistica 68:284–327.
  • D’Hertefelt, Sarah. 2018. Insubordination in Germanic: A typology of complement and conditional constructionsBerlin: de Gruyter.
  • Evans, Nicholas. 2007. Insubordination and its uses. In Finiteness: Theoretical and empirical foundations, ed. Irina Nikolaeva, 366–431. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Fehringer, Carol, and Leonie Cornips. 2019. The use of modal particles in Netherlandic and Belgian Dutch imperatives. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 31:323–362.
  • Giorgi, Alessandra. 2010. About the speaker: Towards a syntax of indexicality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Greco, Matteo. 2020. On the syntax of surprise negation sentences: A case study on expletive negation. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 38:775–825.
  • Greco, Matteo, Paolo Canal, Valentina Bambini, and Andrea Moro. 2019. Expletive negation: from syntax to eye‐movements. In Proceedings of CLS 55, ed. Ömer Eren, Asimina Giannoula, Sam Gray, Chi‐Dat Lam, and Aurora Martinez del Rio. The Chicago Linguistic Society.
  • Haddican, Bill.2019. Toward a unified analysis of addressee in C: Evidence from Galician solidarity datives. Revue Roumaine de Linguistique 4:373–386.
  • Haegeman, Liliane. 2014. West Flemish verb‐based discourse markers and the articulation of the speech act layer. Studia Linguistica 68:116–139.
  • Haegeman, Liliane, and Virginia Hill.2013. The syntacticization of discourse. In Syntax and its limits, ed.Raffaella Folli, Christina Sevdali, and Robert Truswell, 370–389. Oxford University Press.
  • Heim, Johannes, and Martina Wiltschko. 2017. The complexity of speech acts. evidence from speech act modifiers. Ms. UBC.
  • Hill, Virginia. 2007. Vocatives and the pragmatics‐syntax interface. Lingua 117:2077–2105.
  • Jensen, Britta. 2003. Syntax and semantics of imperative subjects. Nordlyd 31:150–164.
  • Kaur, Gurmeet. 2020. On the syntax of addressee in imperatives: insights from allocutivity. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 5:1–44.
  • Kaur, Gurmeet, and Akitaka Yamada. 2022. Honorific (mis)matches in allocutive languages with a focus on Japanese. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 7:1–38.
  • Krifka, Manfred. 2015. Bias in commitment space semantics: Declarative questions, negated questions, and question tags. In SALT 25 Proceedings, 328–345. LSA Open Journal Systems.
  • Krifka, Manfred. 2019. Commitments and beyond. Theoretical Linguistics 45:73–91.
  • Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2012. Agreements that occur mainly in the main clause. In Main clause phenomena. New horizons, ed. Lobke Aelbrecht, Liliane Haegeman, and Rachel Nye, 79–111. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2017. Agreement beyond phi. Linguistic Inquiry Monographs. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2022. Syntax in the treetops. Linguistic Inquiry Monographs. Cambridge: MIT Press.
  • Miyagawa, Shigeru, and Virginia Hill. To appear. Commitment phrase: Linking proposition to illocutionary force. Linguistic Inquiry .
  • Portner, Paul, Miok Pak, and Raffaella Zanuttini. 2019. The speaker‐addressee relation at the syntax‐semantics interface. Language 95:1–36.
  • Potsdam, Eric. 1998. Syntactic issues in the English imperative. Outstanding dissertations in linguistics. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc.
  • Ross, John Robert. 1970. On declarative sentence. In Readings in English transformational grammar, ed. R.A. Jacobs and P.S. Rosenbaum, 222–272. Waltham, MS: Ginn and Co.
  • Rupp, Laura. 1999. Aspects of the syntax of English imperatives. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Essex.
  • Rupp, Laura. 2003. The syntax of imperatives in English and Germanic: Word order variation in the minimalist framework. Palgrave McMillian.
  • Sigurðsson, Halldór Ármann. 2004. The syntax of person, tense and speech features. Journal of Italian Linguistics/Rivista di Linguistica 16:219–251.
  • Sigurðsson, Halldór Ármann. 2014. Context‐linked grammar. Language Sciences 46:175–188.
  • Speas, Peggy, and Carol Tenny. 2003. Configurational properties of point of view roles. In Asymmetry in Grammar, ed. Anna‐Maria Di Sciullo, 315–345. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
  • Tellier, Christine. 2015. French expressive motion verbs as functional heads. Probus 27:157–192.
  • Thoma, S. 2016. Discourse particles and the syntax of discourse: Evidence from Miesbach Bavarian. Doctoral Dissertation, UBC.
  • Trotzke, Andreas. 2015. DP‐internal discourse particles, expressive content, and illocutionary force. Graz Linguistic Studies 83:93–105. 
  • Trotzke, Andreas. 2018. DP‐internal modal particles: A case study of German ja. Studia Linguistica 72:322–339.
  • Wiltschko, Martina. 2014. The universal structure of categories: Towards a formal typology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Wiltschko, Martina. 2021. The grammar of interactional language. Cambridge University Press.
  • Zanuttini, Raffaella. 2008. Encoding the addressee in syntax: evidence from English imperative subjects. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 26:185–218.
  • Zanuttini, Raffaella. 2017. Presentatives and the syntactic encoding of contextual information. In Elements of comparative syntax, ed. G. Puskás, E. Haeberli, M. Schönenberger, and E. Aboh. Boston: De Gruyter.
  • Zanuttini, Raffaella, Miok Pak, and Paul Portner. 2012. A syntactic analysis of interpretive restrictions on imperative, promissive, and exhortative subjects. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 30:1231–1274.
  • Zanuttini, Raffaella, and Paul Portner. 2000. The characterization of exclamative clauses in Paduan. Language 76:123–132.

Download this call for papers as a pdf.