Workshop Types of Specificity in a crosslinguistic perspective

organized by Klaus von Heusinger
University of Stuttgart, SFB 732 Specification in Context,
Project C2 Case and referential context

Thursday, August 31, 2006, Room 17.56.

10.30informel opening with coffee
11.00Philippe Schlenker "Two Theories of Specificity"
12.30-13.30 Lunch
13.30-14.15 Hans Kamp "Nonfunctional nonlocal indefintes"
14.15-15.00 Johannes Wespel "Indefinite Descriptions in Mauritian Creole"
15.00-15.30 coffee break
15.30-16.15 Ljudmila Geist "Genitive Case in Russian and Specificity"
16.15-17.00 Dolgor Guntsetseg "Spezifizität im Mongolischen"
17.00-17.45 Agnes Bende-Farkas:"The Specificity Marker PE and Indefinites in Romanian"
18.30 Dinner


Philippe Schlenker "Two Theories of Specificity"

Hans Kamp "Nonfunctional nonlocal indefintes"

Johannes Wespel "Indefinite Descriptions in Mauritian Creole"

Bickerton (1981, 1984, onwards) put forth the influential "language bioprogram hypothesis" according to which all creole languages have a number of elementary grammatical characteristics in common. Among them is a binary system for marking specificity in the article system. - I will look at indefiniteness marking in French-derived Mauritian Creole to test the hypothesis. It will be shown that with respect to specificity, Bickerton`s claim, if not completely on the wrong track, has to be amended: The basic binary opposition is actually presence versus absence of number, and nonspecificity is rather an effect of number-neutrality. This result may generalize to other (not only French-derived) creoles.

Ljudmila Geist: "Genitive Case in Russian and Specificity"

NPs with count nouns in Russian, either as direct objects or as subjects of unaccusative verbs, can take the Genitive instead of the structural Accusative or Nominative. This use of the Genitive has generally been explained in terms of indefiniteness or non-topicality. However, I will show that the Genitive alternation cannot be accounted for in these terms. I argue that the Genitive marking on count nouns is related to the notion of /relative //specificity/, which is understood as referential anchoring of some discourse item to another discourse item.

Dolgor Guntsetseg "Spezifizität im Mongolischen"

Das Mongolische markiert das direkte Objekt auf verschiedene Weisen - (i) mit Demonstrativpronomen und Kasusendung, (ii) mit indefinitem Artikel (hergeleitet aus dem Zahlwort für eins) und (iii) ohne Kasussuffix und ohne Determinerer. In dem Vortrag werden diese alternativen Markierungen für die unterschiedlichen Typen von Spezizität untersucht.

Agnes Bende-Farkas "The Specificity Marker PE and Indefinites in Romanian"

Romanian has an Accusative preposition PE that is obligatory with [+definite] (or [+referential]) and [+human] direct objects and optional with quantificational or indefinite NPs. When it precedes an indefinite direct object it is said to mark specificity. This paper can be seen as going back and forth between current theories of specificity and the Romanian data: (i) using theoretical findings it attempts to determine what kind of specificity is marked by PE. (ii) Looking at more data it asks some questions about the theory of epistemic specificity. (iii) It provides a (semi-)formal characterisation of PE-indefinites.