BCGL 12: Suppletion, allomorphy, and syncretism

Brussels, December 16-17 2019.

CRISSP is proud to present the twelfth instalment of the Brussels Conference on Generative Linguistics (BCGL), devoted to suppletion, allomorphy, and syncretism.

Workshop description

Suppletion is a form of morphological irregularity whereby a change in a grammatical category triggers a change in word form, with a different (suppletive) root substituting for the normal one (e.g. in the past tense of go, the irregular form went replaces the regular goed). Allomorphy is (in a certain sense) the mirror image of suppletion, namely a change in the form of an affix that is triggered by the presence of a particular type of root (e.g with the root ox the irregular plural morpheme -en replaces the regular form -s). Both suppletion and allomorphy raise the question of how to get the correct distribution of forms: how to pair the correct root with the correct allomorph, and how to correctly restrict the occurrence of the suppletive roots. If all lexical insertion is done at terminal nodes, then suppletion and allomorphy point to some ‘action at a distance’: a head α influences the realisation of another head β (e.g. the V and the T node in the case of go + PST, the N and the Num node in the case of ox + PL). This raises the question of locality: how far apart can α and β be? A range of different views has been proposed in the literature, such as the claim that α and β are local if no overt node intervenes (Embick, 2010; Calabrese, 2015), if they form a span (Abels & Muriungi, 2008; Svenonius, 2016; Merchant, 2015; Haugen & Siddiqi, 2016), if they belong to the same phase (Moskal, 2013a; Embick, 2010; Moskal, 2015), if α is accessible to β (Moskal, 2013b; Moskal & Smith, 2016), if no XP or Xn (n > 0) intervenes (Bobaljik 2012 and Bobaljik & Harley 2017 respectively), if no γ intervenes (Siegel, 1978; Allen, 1978; Embick, 2003; Bobaljik, 2012; Kilbourn-Ceron et al., 2016), or if they form a constituent (Caha, 2017a; De Clercq & Vanden Wyngaerd, 2017).

Syncretism is the identity of forms across different (but related) grammatical categories (e.g. the pronoun you is both 2SG and 2PL). Syncretism is widely believed to be informative about the underlying grammatical system, across a variety of approaches, whether typological (Haspelmath, 2003), formal (Caha, 2009; Bobaljik & Sauerland, 2013), or paradigm-based (McCreight & Chvany, 1991; Plank, 1991; Johnston, 1996; Wiese, 2008). Syncretism may accordingly be used to structure paradigms in such a way that syncretic cells are always adjacent, i.e. avoiding ABA patterns. Caha’s (2009) study of *ABA patterns in Case marking paradigms furthermore interprets syncretism in terms of structural containment: if the structure of the more complex Case suffixes properly contains that of the less complex ones, then *ABA follows. The study of syncretism in morphology in this approach translates into a study of underlying structural relationships.

We welcome contributions addressing suppletion, allomorphy, and/or syncretism in various formal models (Distributed Morphology, the Exo-Skeletal Model, Minimalist Morphology, Nanosyntax, etc.). Possible topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What is the mechanism by which roots and affixes select one other? How are different classes of roots selecting different allomorphs represented in the lexicon? Can root size determine the selection of the allomorph (Caha et al., 2019)?
  • What is the boundary (if any) between suppletion and phonological readjustment of a root, e.g. in the pair givegave (Halle & Marantz, 1993; Embick & Marantz, 2008; Borer, 2003, 2013)?
  • Is root suppletion restricted to the functional part of the vocabulary, as claimed in Marantz (1997), or does it apply more broadly, as claimed by Haugen & Siddiqi (2013); Harley (2014) (but see Borer 2014)?
  • Is there a prefix/suffix asymmetry in allomorphy, and if so, why (Moskal, 2013a)?
  • Are there ways to derive *ABA patterns that do not rely on strict containment, as suggested in Bobaljik & Sauerland (2018); Caha (2017b)?
  • Which approach to deriving syncretism yields the best results, the one in terms of underspecification (i.e. the Subset Principle; Halle 1997), or the one in terms of overspecification (the Superset Principle; Starke 2009), or perhaps other types of approaches (e.g. McCreight & Chvany 1991)?
  • What are the locality conditions governing suppletion, allomorphy, and syncretism?

Invited speakers

  • Heidi Harley (U of Tucson, Arizona)
  • Hagit Borer (QMUL, London)
  • Michal Starke (Masaryk U, Brno)

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; 8½ inch by 11 inch or A4) and a maximum of 50 lines of text per page. Abstracts must be anonymous and submissions are limited to 2 per author, at least one of which is co-authored. Only electronic submissions will be accepted. Please submit your abstract using the EasyChair link for BCGL11:

Important dates

  • First call for papers: June 12, 2019
  • Second call for papers: August 16, 2019
  • Abstract submission deadline: September 15, 2019
  • Notification of acceptance: October 16, 201
  • Conference: December 16-17, 2019

Conference webpage

Conference location

CRISSP – KU Leuven Brussels Campus
Stormstraat 2
1000 Brussels

Job: PhD position in historical computational linguistics, KU Leuven

A PhD position is offered as part of the FWO-funded project « Population developments co-determine diffusional language change: a close-up view on West-Germanic languages », under the supervision of Prof. Freek Van de Velde and Prof. Hubert Cuyckens (co-supervisor). The project is to be carried out within the research group ‘Quantitative Lexicology and Variational Linguistics’ (QLVL), which is part of the Department of Linguistics. QLVL has a strong tradition in language variation and change. The group focuses on advanced quantitative methods for studying lexical and constructional variation.

Website unit



This project investigates the relation between urban population developments and morphological changes in three major West-Germanic languages, English, Dutch, German, from the beginning of Early Modernity to the end of Classical Modernity (1500-1900). The main hypothesis is that morphological simplification accelerates when urban populations grow. Put more succinctly: word structure becomes simpler when cities grow. The reason is that the growth in this period is brought about mainly by immigration involving speakers from different dialects and different languages, resulting in what linguists call ‘koineisation’ (dialect leveling) with a decrease in morphological complexity. We take a decidedly quantitative approach, relying on linguistic databases (text corpora) as well as on demographic databases.


An eligible candidate should

  • have successfully completed a Master’s Degree in Linguistics, a Master’s Degree in Language & Literature, a Master’s Degree in Digital Humanities (or equivalent). Students finishing their MA degree in the summer of 2019 are also encouraged to apply.
  • have an interest in and demonstrable background knowledge on the history of the Germanic languages (minimally English and German)
  • have an interest in quantitative approaches to linguistics
  • have hands-on experience with coding in R and/or Python.
  • be proficient in English, including mastery of academic writing
  • be willing and able to deepen their knowledge of theories of language change and language variation.

Familiarity with historical corpora of Early New High German is a plus.


A full-time PhD position is offered for 1 year (starting in October 2019), with the perspective of prolongation with another 3 years. The successful candidate will become part of a small team of researchers investigating language variation and language change. S/he will author international scientific publications. S/he will be able to develop a variety of skills, including programming, statistics, knowledge of earlier stages of English, German, and Dutch, but also writing and presentation skills as well as organizational skills. S/he will be able to attend international meetings and to meet and collaborate with enthusiastic fellow linguists. Teaching load is limited to up to 10% of the time. The starting net monthly salary is about 2000 euros.


For more information and/or a detailed description of the project, please contact Prof. dr. Freek Van de Velde <>. Applicants should include a CV, a letter of motivation and one piece of academic writing demonstrating their skill as a linguist and researcher.

You can apply for this job no later than July 07, 2019 via the online application tool on the website:

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

Summer School: Cognitive linguistic applications to second language teaching: From Theory to Practice

21-24 August 2019, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

The workshop aims to provide interested researchers in the field of applied linguistics (PhD students, PostDocs and others) with a strong methodological background on how to test the effectiveness of cognitive linguistic approaches to language teaching by means of classroom-based studies. To this end, the program of the workshop includes both talks reporting the most recent advances in the field and hands-on sessions, requiring the participants to further their own research. Participants will have the opportunity to receive specialized feedback, become familiar with practice examples and actively engage in discussion. The workshop will be held in English, but pedagogical applications for other foreign languages such as Spanish, German and French will be showcased. Researchers working on any foreign language are strongly encouraged to participate.
Minimum Education Level: Undergraduate

Cognitive linguistic approaches such as cognitive grammar and construction grammar are best suited to elucidate grammar principles that often remain hidden to language learners, since they use imagery and embodied experiences to make grammar’s meaningfulness more transparent to learners. Although their potential is widely accepted, empirical research so far still needs to provide a clear understanding of how these approaches can best be translated into effective teaching practices, especially for languages others than English. In the field of applied linguistics, assessing the effectiveness of such approaches in controlled classroom settings remains an exciting, but challenging endeavor. Therefore, the present workshop addresses some of the questions regarding the testing of cognitive linguistic approaches in the form of interventional studies in classroom settings, such as the following:

– How should the treatment be designed in order to align with the most recent advances in language pedagogy?
– Which study designs are best suited to assess the impact of the treatment?
– How can measurements be constructed and validated?
– Which statistical methods are best suited for the analysis of variables?

Keynote Speakers

Robert Blake (University of California Davis)
Thomas François (Université catholique de Louvain)
Jörg Roche (University of Munich)

Tuition Explanation: Participation is free of charge.

Registration: 10-May-2019 to 15-Jul-2019
Contact Person: Mathieu Lecouvet

Apply here.

Registration Instructions:
Participants will be required to submit a short abstract about their current research project(s).

11th International Conference on Construction Grammar (ICCG11)

Construction grammars in and between minds, communities, computers

ICCG11 will take place at the University of Antwerp (UAntwerpen), Belgium, 20-22 August 2020. ICCG11 will cover a broad range of topics related to constructionist approaches to language. The conference also acts as a forum of discussion between approaches, including cognitive construction grammar, embodied construction grammar, fluid construction grammar, radical construction grammar, sign based construction grammar, frame semantics, or other approaches. The conference theme is: how do constructions model language in minds, communities, or computers? Submissions for presentations, posters, or workshops are particularly welcomed along the lines of this theme, but submissions may also be related to other aspects of constructionist linguistics.


Nick Ellis (University of Michigan) – language learning

Luc Steels (Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona) – computational linguistics

Evelina (Ev) Fedorenko (MIT) – neurolinguistics

Gabriele Diewald (Hannover University) – historical linguistics

Steffen Höder (Kiel University) – language contact


Information on how to submit an abstract is available here.

Job: research assistant in Natural Language Processing (UCLouvain)

The Institute for Language and Communication ( has an opening for a research assistant (part-time 50%) in Natural Language Processing for a max. period of three years, starting 1 October 2019.

The position is part of a large multidisciplinary project that aims to investigate socio-cognitive conflicts in online educational platforms: “MOOCresearch2.0: A mixed-method and multidisciplinary approach to socio-cognitive conflicts in online educational platforms” (Prof. M. Frenay, Prof. F. Lambotte, Dr. Magali Paquot & Prof. V. Swaen) (see for more info). As such, the research assistant will be working with researchers from the Centre for English Corpus Linguistics (, the Social Media Lab (, the Interdisciplinary Research Group in Socialisation, Education and Training (GIRSEF,, the Center on Consumer Relations and Responsible Marketing (CERMA, and the Centre for Natural Language Processing (CENTAL,

Job description

  • The research assistant will provide support to the project team by performing a variety of tasks such as:
  • Data pre-processing: anonymization, normalization
  • Data structuring: linking up different data types (forum posts, user profiles, learners’ questionnaires, logs, etc.)
  • Data enrichment: part-of-speech tagging, language recognition, topic detection, etc.
  • Data analysis and visualization
  • The research assistant will also work in close collaboration with the CENTAL to provide access to the compiled corpus via a user-friendly online concordancer. Another important task of the research assistant will be to implement sustainable solutions for the automated treatment of incoming data.

Requirements and profile:

  • Master degree in Natural Language Processing
  • excellent record of MA level study;
  • programming skills in Python or Perl
  • experience with NLP for social media is an asset
  • knowledge of statistics and statistical software is an asset
  • very good command of French and English
  • excellent and demonstrated analytic skills
  • excellent and demonstrated self-management skills
  • ability and willingness to work in a team

Terms of employment:

  • The contract will initially be for one year, two times renewable, with a total of max. three years.
  • The monthly gross salary is min. 3317 EUR.
  • The position requires residence in Belgium, preferably in or near Louvain-la-Neuve
  • Applicants from outside the EU are responsible for obtaining the necessary visa or permits, with the assistance of UCLouvain staff department.

Application Deadline: 31 May 2019

Please include in your application:

  • a cover letter in French, in which you specify why you are interested in this position and how you meet the job requirements outlined above;
  • a curriculum vitae in French or English;
  • an outline of previous work or research experience in English
  • a copy of your BA and MA degrees;
  • a copy of your master thesis and academic publications (if applicable);
  • the names and full contact details of two academic referees.

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview (in situ or via video conferencing) on 24 or 26 June 2019. Please save the dates!

Enquiries and applications should be addressed by email to Dr. Magali Paquot (

Job: computer scientist with NLP background, CENTAL, UCLouvain

  • full time (100%) for an indefinite period
  • for the Centre for Natural Language Processing (CENTAL) of the Institute for Language and Communication (ILC) in the Human Science Sector
  • in Louvain-la-Neuve
  • starting date: 1 August 2019


CENTAL is a technology platform associated with UCLouvain’s Institute for Language and Communication and specialising in the study of computerised language processing. The platform’s tasks cover both research and teaching. CENTAL collaborates on projects at several research centres within UCLouvain and various industry partners by offering its expertise in natural language processing (NLP). It also organises expert training in text data analysis. Its skills can be grouped into two main areas of activity: “NLP for information processing” (which includes projects connected with information extraction, information retrieval, text classification, etc.) and “NLP for language learning” (which includes projects related to computer-assisted language learning, readability, etc.).

Job description

  • Project management (50%): you will be responsible for IT development and will coordinate various projects of the Centre involving automatic text data processing (collection, standardisation, analysis, labelling, etc.)
  • System administration (25%): you will assist with the installation, configuration and maintenance of computer infrastructures and will identify future needs
  • Monitoring of technological developments: (10%) you will monitor emerging NLP technologies in order to provide an optimum response to the issues raised
  • Interface development (15%): you will develop user interfaces for the tools developed by CENTAL

Qualifications and skills required

Applicants must have the following:

  • Master’s degree in Computer Science, Linguistics or equivalent (specialising in natural language processing, machine learning or artificial intelligence)
  • computer skills:
    • programming languages: Python, knowledge of C and/or C++ is a plus
    • web technologies: HTML, Javascript, CSS
    • editing language: XML
    • databases: SQL Server, MySQL and PostgreSQL
    • systems: Linux and Windows
    • virtualisation environments: VMWare and/or Proxmox (or a willingness to learn how to manage them)
  • knowledge of the main NLP tools and algorithms
  • knowledge of French and English (at least level B2)
  • ability to work as part of a team, excellent listening skills and ability to analyse needs, adaptability

For more info,

Application deadline: 19 May 2019

Job: Native Spanish linguist, Acapela (Mons)


The candidate is a native Spanish speaker with a training in linguistics and phonetics. He/she will be part of a team that designs, develops, tests, and deploys Text-To-Speech technologies supporting a range of products and services in a large portfolio of languages. With other members of the team, he/she will participate in the development of a new Spanish voice that will help a large number of people around the world.

Job description

  • Assist computer scientists in the development of a new Spanish voice
  • Native Spanish speaker
  • Fluent in English or French to communicate with the team
  • Checking audio recordings versus text script (word mistakes, erroneous pronunciations…)
  • Validate phonetic lexicons
  • Phonetic validation of audio recordings
  • Curiosity about phonetics and languages
  • Working knowledge of Windows or Linux
  • Team player with good interpersonal skills


8 weeks


1-week training session in Mons (Belgium), possibility to work partly from home

Hourly rate

30 EUR/h

Start date

 As soon as possible


Vincent Pagel

Acapela Group R&D and Linguistic Resources Manager

Address: bvd Dolez, 33 B7000 MONS

About Acapela Group

Acapela Group brings together talented people from very different backgrounds and areas of expertise, resulting in a rich cultural and multilingual environment. We work on voices and languages, we look at the whole world and all application fields to help us create authentic and genuine voices that change or simplify people’s daily live

Linguistique générale 101. Réflexions sur l’enseignement de la linguistique

3 mai 2019, Namur, Belgium

Journée organisée par le Département de Langues et littératures romanes et par l’Institut NaLTT.

Contact et inscription (souhaitée pour le 26 avril) :

Affiche et programme <


Mot d’accueil de David Vrydaghs, Doyen de la Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres de l’UNamur

9h15-9h30 Mot de présentation par Jean-Louis Vaxelaire (UNamur)


Philippe Blanchet (Université Rennes 2)
« Monter un cours magistral d’introduction aux sciences du langage en 1ère année de licence d’information-communication : quelles orientations ? quelles modalités ? Réflexions sur une expérience à l’Université Rennes 2, en Bretagne »

10h30-11h00 Sami Mabrak (Université Lyon 2), Djamel Boukhalet et AbdessamedLamiche (Université Med Boudiaf de M’sila)
« De la convergence à la divergence dans l’enseignement de la linguistique »
11h00-11h30 Pause-café


Borko Kovačević, Maja Đukanović & Vesna Polovina (Université de Belgrade)
« Les expériences et les directions possibles du développement de l’enseignement de la linguistique générale »

12h00-13h00 Patrick Charaudeau (Université Paris 13)
« Les possibles raisons de l’invisibilité de la linguistique dans les sciences humaines et sociales »




François Rastier (CNRS)
« Linguistique et littérature : « énonciation » ou création ? »


Vince Liégeois (Université de Gand) « Vers un Cours de grammaire générative »

15h30-15h45 Pause-café


Aurélie Sinte (Université de Namur)
« L’analyse du discours oral au service de l’enseignement universitaire »


Laurence Meurant (Université de Namur, LSFB-lab)
« La linguistique générale à l’épreuve des langues signées »


CfP: Sixth Ghent Colloquium on Afrikaans

16-18 October 2019, Ghent, Belgium

The Ghent research group on Afrikaans and the study of South Africa organises an annual colloquium on the linguistics and literature of Afrikaans. The overall theme of the linguistic component of this year’s edition is ‘Language Variation in Afrikaans’, broadly construed (i.e. including geographical, social, stylistic, etc. variation in present-day Afrikaans as well as diachronic variation). The plenary speaker is Gerald Stell (The Polytechnic University of Hong Kong), who will present new research on Namibian Afrikaans.
The conference languages are Afrikaans and Dutch.

Call for Papers:

We invite abstracts for original research papers on any aspect of language variation in Afrikaans, past or present. Possible topics include — but are definitely not limited to:

– the relations between Standard Afrikaans and other varieties of the language;
– the status, use and linguistic characteristics of Cape Afrikaans;
– the restandardisation debate;
– the emergence of new sociolects;
– the use of Afrikaans outside South Africa and the properties of expat Afrikaans;
– the use of Afrikaans in specific text types or contexts.

In addition, we also welcome papers dealing with variation along geographical, social, ethnic, stylistic, etc. lines in the use or properties of specific lexical or grammatical items or phenomena, as well as papers which shed new light on the diachrony of Afrikaans in general or of specific linguistic phenomena.

Please send your anonymous abstract as an attachment in pdf- and doc(x)-format to by April 15 and include name(s) and affiliation(s) in the body of the abstract. The maximal length is 500 words, including examples and references. Abstracts are preferably in Afrikaans or Dutch. Abstracts in English are welcome, too, but please note that speakers will be expected to give the actual presentation in Afrikaans or Dutch.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by mid-May.

CFP: Novel Perspectives on Communication Practices in Antiquity Towards a Historical Social-Semiotic Approach

03-05 Oct-2019, Ghent, Belgium

We are delighted to invite interested scholars and colleagues to participate in the opening event of the ERC-project ‘Everyday writing in Graeco-Roman and Late Antique Egypt. A socio-semiotic study of communicative variation’ (2018-2023).

The main aim of the conference is to explore to what ex­tent it is possible and desirable to found a discipline such as historical social-semiotics, parallel to historical socio-linguistics. This novel, interdisciplinary approach is particularly relevant for ‘everyday’ documentary texts: since these texts represent autographs, their external characteristics can also be brought into interpretation. Some of the characteristics to be considered as expressions of social meaning (functioning as ‘semiotic resources’) are – but are not limited to – writing material, document format, and language choice.
The conference will mainly focus on documentary texts from the Mediterranean region, roughly spanning the period from the first millennium BCE to the first millennium CE.

Confirmed speakers include:

James Clackson (Cambridge)
Mark Depauw (Leuven)
Jean-Luc Fournet (Paris)
Antonella Ghignoli (Rome)
Tonio Sebastian Richter (Berlin)
Petra Sijpesteijn (Leiden)

Call for Papers:

Please submit a one-page English abstract to by April 30, 2019. Notification of acceptance will be given by June 1, 2019.

A full version of the CfP can be found here: