Call for Papers




 Petra Hendriks
 Peter de Swart

Call for Papers


Invited speakers

  • T. Florian Jaeger (Rochester)
  • Holly Branigan (Edinburgh)

When composing a sentence, a speaker often has several structural options to choose from. Thus, in a predominant SO language, he may choose to have the object precede the subject (through object-preposing or SO-reversal). In the same way, the order of direct and indirect object can be reversed in certain languages. Such permutations are not restricted to arguments but can also involve arguments and particles or adverbs. In some cases a choice for a certain order entails a change in construction, as in the English genitive and ditransitive alternations.

Recent years have witnessed a rapid growth in studies identifying factors influencing structural permutations, among which animacy, definiteness, NP-type, discourse prominence, grammatical weight (e.g. Wasow 2002, Rosenbach 2005, Bresnan et al. 2007, Jaeger 2010). Motivations for these alternations can be roughly divided into speaker and hearer based ones. For instance, in speaker-motivated accessibility accounts a speaker maps highly accessible elements to positions earlier on in the sentence. Such a mapping may be either direct or indirect through alignment with prominent grammatical functions (see Branigan et al. 2008 for an overview). On a hearer-based account a speaker chooses a certain construction either because it reduces processing costs for the hearer or because it helps to get the intended meaning across in an unambiguous fashion (see e.g. Hawkins 2004).

In this one-day workshop we would like to bring together researchers working on structural alternations from a production and/or comprehension perspective. The aim of this workshop is to get a better understanding of the workings and motivation of such alternations. We invite abstracts dealing with any aspect of structural alternations with a special (but not exclusive) interest in:

  • Studies investigating and providing a motivation for the influence of one or more factors on the production or comprehension of structural alternations.
  • Studies investigating whether the same principles hold for alternations involving only arguments and ones involving both arguments and non-arguments.
  • Studies juxtaposing the production and interpretation of structural alternations. Of particular interest are asymmetries between production and comprehension when a language user correctly produces a certain alternation but comprehends it incorrectly or vice versa.
  • Papers presenting novel (experimental) ways to study the production and interpretation of alternations.
  • Papers discussing the implications of alternations for (theoretical linguistic) models of grammar.
  • Papers addressing the relation between 'statistical' and grammatical patterns of structural alternations. To what extent do soft constraints mirror hard constraints (Bresnan et al 2001, Hawkins 2004)?
  • Papers discussing meaning equivalences between two alternates.


Abstract submission

We invite abstracts for 35-minute presentations (including a 10 minutes discussion). Submissions should include a one-page abstract (single-spaced with at least size 11 font), with an optional second page for examples, data and references. No identity properties of the author should be found on the abstract page(s).

The abstract must be submitted electronically to, in PDF format. Please state in the body of your email message the names of the author(s), their affilitiation, and the title of the paper.

The deadline for abstract submission is June 25th, 2011. Notification of acceptance will be sent in the second week of July, 2011.

This workshop is organized as part of the NWO-financed VICI-project 'Asymmetries in Grammar' (Petra Hendriks) and the VENI-project 'The Status of Hierarchies in Language Production and Comprehension' (Peter de Swart) at the Center for Language and Cognition Groningen of the University of Groningen.

For more information please contact us at or have a look at our website:

May 1st, 2011