Category Archives: CRISSP Seminars

CRISSP Seminar with Michael Cysouw

CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Seminar with Michael Cysouw on Monday June 1, 2015.

Title: Language comparison through massively parallel texts


A central goal of general linguistics is to try and make statements about human language in general, and not just for a few, widely studied languages. There currently exists a range of different methodologies to investigate and compare many disparate languages. However, the central problem of comparability always raises its ugly head: how do we make sure that we are comparing like with like across languages? As a solution to the problem of comparability, I propose to use massively parallel texts, i.e. the same text translated into many different languages (cf. I will present a few basic examples of how parallel texts can be used for language comparison and discuss possible future directions of this kind research.


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CRISSP Seminar with Daniel Harbour

CRISSP is happy to announce a CRISSP Seminar with Daniel Harbour on Monday May 11, 2015.

Title: The logical resources of person features


Traditionally, person features have been taken to denote predicates, with the minus value denoting logical negation. However, traditional features overgenerate person systems and must be constrained by ultimately nonexplanatory means (such as cooccurrence restrictions). This talk demonstrates that the need for ad hoc constraints vanishes if different logical resources are assumed. Specifically, person features denote power sets and feature values denote complementary operations by which sets act on one another. In tandem with this reconfiguration of the theory, I argue for a reenvisioning of the data pertinent to person theories, relegating syncretisms to secondary status and affording central position to partitions (superpositions of syncretisms) and treating person and spatial data on a par. Relative to these changes in data, the proposed theory generates all and only the required systems whilst deriving significant facts about their internal properties. These results suggest that the logical resources of feature theories in general are ripe for reconsideration.

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CRISSP Seminar: Jóhanna Barðdal on October 13

CRISSP is happy to announce another installment in the CRISSP Seminar series:

Lecturer: Jóhanna Barðdal (Ghent University)

Title: How to Identify Cognates in Syntax: Taking Watkins’ Legacy One Step Further

Date & time: Monday October 13, 2014, 17.00-18.30

Location: CRISSP/KULeuven HUBrussel, Stormstraat 2 (Hermes building), room 3101

Participation: free


As a reaction to three different proposals on how to reconstruct basic word order for Proto-Indo-European, Watkins and his contemporaries in the Seventies succeeded in aborting any attempt at reconstructing syntax for a long time to come. As a consequence, syntactic reconstruction has generally been regarded as a stranded enterprise by historical linguists for several different reasons, one of which is the alleged difficulty in identifying cognates in syntax. Later, Watkins (1995) proposed a research program aiming at reconstructing larger units of grammar, including syntactic structures, by means of identifying morphological flags that are parts of larger syntactic entities. As a response to this, we show how cognate argument structure constructions may be identified, through a) cognate lexical verbs, b) cognate case frames, c) cognate predicate structure and d) cognate case morphology. We then propose to advance Watkins’ program, by identifying cognate argument structure constructions with the aid of noncognate, but synonymous, lexical predicates. As a consequence, it will not only be possible to identify cognate argument structure constructions across a deeper time span, but also to carry out semantic reconstruction on the basis of lexical-semantic verb classes.

New CRISSP Seminar: Marcos Silva

CRISSP is happy to announce another installment in the CRISSP Seminar series:

Lecturer: Marcos Silva (Department of Philosophy, Federal University of Ceará (UFC), Brazil)

Title: Applying truth table metaphysics to the color exclusion problem

Date & time: Monday May 12, 2014, 17.00-18.30

Location: CRISSP/KULeuven HUBrussel, Stormstraat 2 (Hermes building), room 3407

Participation: free

Read the abstract