SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Workshop on Prominent Internal Possessors


Date: 22 September 2016Time: 10:00 AM

Finishes: 23 September 2016Time: 4:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G51 (22 September), S116 (23 September)

Type of Event: Workshop


In some languages, a possessor that is internal to a possessive phrase (e.g. Mary in Mary's baby or table in leg of the table) has a greater deal of syntactic ‘prominence’ than typically encountered. Contrary to what is usually expected, the grammatical properties of the possessor (and not the possessed item) are relevant for syntactic processes such as agreement with the verb, even though both possessor and possessed are part of the same syntactic phrase. A similar effect can be found with switch-reference, a special type of marking indicating whether the subjects of the two clauses refer to the same entity. Switch-reference typically targets the head of the possessive phrase, but in some languages switch-reference marking indicates that the possessor within the subject phrase of one clause is interpreted as referring to the same entity as the subject of the second clause.

This type of data presents linguistic theorists with a challenge because, despite attested variability across languages in this respect, models of syntax have little to say about it. They have hitherto assumed that agreement and switch-reference are mechanisms that target the head of the possessive phrase, but not a dependent element.

This workshop will bring together researchers who are interested in the syntactic, semantic and information structural effects of internal possessor prominence.


If you wish to attend the workshop, you can register by sending an email to Sandy Ritchie


Thursday 22 September (Room G51)
10.00 Introduction and welcome (slides)
Irina Nikolaeva (SOAS)
Session 1. Chair: Oliver Bond
10.30 Prominent Internal Possessors in languages of Australia (handout)
Rachel Nordlinger (University of Melbourne) & Felicity Meakins (University of Queensland)
11.30 Refreshments
12.00 Heads – a canonical approach (handout)
Greville G. Corbett (University of Surrey)
12.45 Lunch
Session 2. Chair: Rachel Nordlinger
14.00 Disjoint and reflexive prominent internal possessor constructions in Chimane (slides)
Sandy Ritchie (SOAS)
14.45 Prominent Internal Possessors Eastern Uralic style (handout)
Irina Nikolaeva (SOAS)
15.30 Refreshments
Session 3. Chair: Irina Nikolaeva
16.00 Prominent internal possessors in Bashkir (slides)
Sergey Say (Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences)
17.00 Drinks and dinner

Friday 23 September (Room S116)
Session 4. Chair: Greville Corbett
10.00 Conditions on Prominent Internal Possessors in Turkish (handout)
Aslı Göksel & Balkız Öztürk (Boğaziçi University)
11.00 Refreshments
11.30 Constructing a multivariate database on possessor prominence (slides)
Sandy Ritchie (SOAS) & Oliver Bond (University of Surrey)
12.15 Non-identity of indices in Oneida (Iroquoian) possessive structures (handout)
Karin Michelson (University at Buffalo)
13.15 Lunch
Session 5. Chair: Rachel Nordlinger
14.15 The syntax of internal possessors in Maithili (handout)
Yogendra Yadava (Tribhuvan University), Irina Nikolaeva (SOAS), Sandy Ritchie (SOAS), Oliver Bond (University of Surrey)
15.15 Discussion
16.00 Close

Call for Papers

We invite proposals for the Workshop on Prominent Internal Possessors, which will be held at SOAS, University of London on 22-23 September 2016. We welcome proposals which address the phenomenon of internal possessor prominence from any theoretical perspective. Each paper will last 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for questions.

Abstracts should be no longer than two pages (including references and examples, minimum 11pt font) and should be sent in PDF format to: Sandy Ritchie Please submit the abstract anonymously and include your name and affiliation in your email.

Deadline for abstracts: 15 April 2016. Applicants will be notified of acceptance by 15 May 2016.

Invited speakers

Aslı Göksel, Boğaziçi University
Felicity Meakins, University of Queensland
Karin Michelson, University of Buffalo
Rachel Nordlinger, University of Melbourne
Sergey Say, Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (TBC)

Organiser: Irina Nikolaeva, Oliver Bond, Greville Corbett and Sandy Ritchie

Contact email:

Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council