Pluralia tantum and other wonders of the number system: a canonical analysis

CRISSP is happy to announce a new CRISSP Seminar with Greville Corbett on Thursday January 18, 2018.

Lecturer: Greville Corbett (University of Surrey)
Title: Pluralia tantum and other wonders of the number system: a canonical analysis
Date & time: Thursday January 18, 2018, 16.00-17.30
Location: KU Leuven, Faculty of Arts, room LETT 02.16
Participation: free

Pluralia tantum and other wonders of the number system: a canonical analysis

Greville Corbett

Pluralia tantum is a label for nouns which lack a singular when, in some sense, they should not. The fact that English binoculars has no singular is worth noting (that is, it is not predictable). True, there are other nouns denoting items consisting of two significant parts which behave similarly (spectacles, trousers, …); indeed they are subject to ‘middle-size generalizations’, (Koenig 1999). But there are two reasons to take note of binoculars and similar nouns. First, there are many English nouns equally denoting items consist- ing of two significant parts which are unremarkable in this respect: bicycle, bigraph, Bactrian camel, cou- ple, duo, …And second, there are languages with number systems roughly comparable to that of English in which the equivalent of binoculars is a normal count noun: Russian binokl’. Conversely, Russian sani ‘sleigh’ is a plurale tantum noun. How then do we talk of ‘one sleigh’ in Russian? These items are the en- try point to a collection of items, some with much stranger behaviour, lurking between the unexpectedly defective and the semi-predictable. Moreover, while pluralia tantum nouns are of continued interest in the general linguistic literature (see, for instance, Wisniewski 1999), it is typically only the English type which is considered. The aim, therefore, is to set out a fuller typology of these fascinating nouns, so that their significance can be more fully appreciated and analyses can be based on a better data set. I start from the notion of canonical noun, and demonstrate the different non-canonical properties according to a set of orthogonal criteria.

Light verb constructions in Germanic languages

17-18 November 2017, Université Saint-Louis, Bruxelles

Deadline extension for submission of abstracts: 30 July 2017

Aims and scope

The German term “Funktionsverbgefüge” (‘light verb construction’; LVC) designates a combination of a noun phrase (with or without a preposition) with a light verb. The nominal and the verbal constituents build a semantic unit, e.g. German zur Entscheidung kommen, in Verbindung setzen, English to make a decision, to take a look and Dutch in aanmerking komen, ter beschikking staan. LVCs constitute an interesting research topic which can be studied from different perspectives. They can express different aspectual dimensions (causative, durative, inchoative, etc.), are more or less suitable for passivization and sometimes fill a semantic gap. Interesting research issues include their definition, the delimitation criteria – for instance between collocations and LVCs – as well as the typology of their constituents (preposition, article, nominal constituent and light verb). LVCs are also in competition with simple verbs and the question arises whether both ways of expression are interchangeable and semantically identical. From a more applied perspective, LVCs constitute a great challenge for foreign language learners. More specifically, the selection of a specific light verb, which can be among others a posture or placement verb like German stehen, setzen, versetzen, etc., is far from easy for learners. In spite of similarities between Germanic languages like German, Dutch and English, there are several differences in the formation and the use of these constructions. This makes a comparison of LVCs within Germanic and other languages another interesting issue.

The aim of this conference is to bring together researchers who are interested in the study of LVCs from different perspectives. We welcome submissions dealing with issues such as the following (but not exclusively):

  • criteria for the delimitation between LVCs and collocations
  • the syntactic structure of LVCs/Typology of their constituents
  • posture and placement verbs in LVCs
  • the semantics of prepositions in LVCs
  • LVCs vs. simple verbs
  • aspectual differences
  • comparison of LVCs between Germanic languages and/or other languages

Abstract submission 

Submissions are welcome for 25-minute oral presentations (including 5 minutes for questions) and posters. Conference languages: German and English. Abstracts of no more than 500 words (+ references) can be sent by email to until 30 July 2017.

Please include the following information in the main body of your email: author’s name, affiliation, email address, presentation title and preferred mode of presentation (oral presentation or poster). Notification of acceptance will be sent on 20 August 2017. Continue reading

Morphology Days 2017 – First Call for Papers

November 23-24, 2017

Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium)

Morphology Days is a (nearly) biennial international meeting which deals with morphology within different frameworks and in various perspectives. Previous successful editions of this conference have taken place in Leuven (2015), Leeuwarden (2013), Leiden (2012), Nijmegen (2011), Luik (2009) and Amsterdam (2007).

The next edition of the conference will take place at the Université catholique de Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium) on November 23-24, 2017.

We invite papers dealing with issues in morphology for a presentation in the main sessions of the conference.

Keynote speakers
Hélène Giraudo (Université de Toulouse)
Laura Michaelis (University of Colorado at Boulder)
Freek Van de Velde (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

Abstract submission
We invite abstracts in English (500 words maximum, excluding bibliography). Each abstract will be reviewed anonymously by the scientific committee.
Abstract submission:

Important dates
Deadline for abstract submission: June 1, 2017
Notification of decision: September 1, 2017
Program available: September 15, 2017

Organizing Committee
Philippe Hiligsmann (Université catholique de Louvain)
Kristel Van Goethem (F.R.S.- FNRS & Université catholique de Louvain)
Laurent Rasier (Université de Liège)
Nikos Koutsoukos (Université catholique de Louvain)
Isa Hendrikx (Université catholique de Louvain)
Camille Spinhayer (F.R.S.- FNRS & Université catholique de Louvain)

Scientific committee
Dany Amiot (Université de Lille)
Jenny Audring (Universiteit Leiden)
Geert Booij (Universiteit Leiden)
Marie-Aude Lefer (Université catholique de Louvain)
Torsten Leuschner (Universiteit Gent)
Daniela Marzo (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)
Matthias Hüning (Freie Universität Berlin)
Joachim Sabel (Université catholique de Louvain)
Barbara Schlücker (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn)
Ton van der Wouden (Meertens Instituut & Leiden University)

Kristel Van Goethem:

Journée linguistique 2017

Nouvelle date limite pour la soumission : 31 mars 2017

Comme chaque année, le CBL (Cercle Belge de Linguistique) organise une journée linguistique. Cette année la conférence aura lieu le vendredi 5 mai 2017 à la Faculté de Lettres et Philosophie de l’Université d’Anvers. Toutes les activités (communications et déjeuner) auront lieu dans le bâtiment D (entrée par le coin de Grote Kauwenberg et Vekestraat ou par Grote Kauwenberg).


Les communications (20’ de présentation + 10’ de discussion) peuvent traiter d’un sujet linguistique quelconque et peuvent se faire dans une des trois langues nationales (néerlandais, français, allemande) ou en anglais. Les propositions (max. 500 mots, sans références) doivent indiquer clairement le sujet, les objectifs, les données et la méthode utilisées ainsi que les résultats (provisoires). Toutes les propositions (avec le nom et l’affiliation des auteurs) peuvent être envoyées à Jessica Van de Weerd ( avec Patrick Dendale en cc. (, jusqu’au vendredi 31 mars 2017. Avant le 14 avril 2017 vous serez mis au courant de l’acceptation de votre proposition.


La participation à la journée linguistique est gratuite pour les membres ainsi que pour les non-membres. Ceux qui veulent faire une communication doivent être membres (c’est-à-dire ceux qui ont rempli la fiche d’adhésion et payé la cotisation (€ 20 ou € 40 pour ceux qui veulent obtenir le dernier volume du Belgian Journal of Linguistics) pour l’année 2017).


Comme l’année passée, cette année il y aura également un prix pour la meilleure présentation par un doctorant. Si vous désirez participer, vous devez le mentionner lors de la soumission de votre proposition.

Dates importantes:

  • 24 mars 2017: date limite pour la soumission – nouvelle date : 31 mars 2017
  • 14 avril 2017: confirmation d’acceptation
  • 28 avril 2017: date limite pour l’inscription pour le déjeuner
  • 5 mai 2017: Journée Linguistique

Organisation: Jessica Van de Weerd et Patrick Dendale

PLIN Day 2017 on “Construction Grammar: new advances in theoretical and applied linguistics”

On Friday, May 12, 2017, the Linguistics Research Unit of Université catholique de Louvain organizes the PLIN Day 2017 on « Construction Grammar: new advances in theoretical and applied linguistics” at the Université catholique de Louvain.

Program and abstracts of the keynote speakers are now available on the website, as well as an online registration form. The registration deadline is May 1st.

The aims of the conference are the following:

(a) To present the most recent developments of ongoing research within the framework of Construction Grammar by covering a wide spectrum of fields, topics and research problems

(b) To highlight the benefits of a Construction Grammar approach for both theoretical and applied linguistics

The conference will include 5 plenary talks and 2 poster sessions. We are happy to announce that the following keynote speakers have accepted our invitation:

  • Dany Amiot (Université de Lille): “La Grammaire de Construction et l’interface morphologie-syntaxe : Préposition, préfixe, préfixoïde, des objets de même nature?”
  • Holger Diessel (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena) : “Construction Grammar and First Language Acquisition”
  • Steffen Höder (Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel) : “A constructional approach to language in contact: Background and basic concepts of Diasystematic Construction Grammar”
  • Muriel Norde (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) : “Diachronic Construction Grammar”
  • Remi van Trijp (Sony Computer Science Laboratory, Paris) : “Computational Construction Grammar and its potential impact on linguistics and language technologies”


English spoken: The position of English in Brussels

May 30, 2017

Université Saint-Louis, Brussels, Belgium



Located in a Germanic dialectal area as attested by all historical toponyms, Brussels has known over the centuries an increasing influence of French that culminated in the 19th century when French became de facto the language of the newly funded Belgian state. That state of affairs discriminated against speakers of Dutch dialects, which led to claims for linguistic equality that is still being pursued through the reforms of the Belgian State. Since 1989, Brussels is officially bilingual (French-Dutch). However this status does not reflect the linguistic diversity of the capital city where over 100 languages are spoken according to the latest “Taalbarometer” (Janssens 2013) nor the influence of English that is the second best known language after French.

The presence of English as a world language is well documented in metropolises but it may have found in Brussels a very fertile ground due to the presence of EU- and international institutions but also due to its increasing instrumental value as a lingua franca between French- and Dutch-speaking Belgians.

Call for Papers

Yet, the position of English in Brussels is under-documented and the first aim of this research day is to offer a better overview of the prevalence and functions of English in Brussels. More specifically, the following questions among many others could be discussed:

  • In what domains – for instance business, advertisement, (higher) education, the media… – is English used in Brussels?
  • Is the use of English widespread or restricted to specific geographical areas?
  • Where and how is English visible in Brussels? How prevalent is it in the linguistic landscape? What is its share in the local media?
  • Among which groups is it used? Is it the prerogative of highly educated expats or is it reaching other parts of the population such as recent migrants? Could it become an intra-national lingua franca between Dutch- and French-speakers?
  • What are the attitudes towards English? Is it welcome as a prestige marker or a useful neutral lingua franca or is it resented as a foreign influence?
  • What are the characteristics of the English spoken in Brussels? Is it a foreign language relying on British or American norms or is it turning into a second language with local features as may be the case in EU institutions and their ‘Euro-Speak’? Could the recent Brexit influence the future of English in Brussels?

The research day is primarily intended to facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions as a starting point for a large scale research project on English in Brussels.

Proposals of 400 words (+ references) for 20-minute papers (+ 10 minutes discussion) are invited by March 31, 2017 through Easy Abstracts (

Further Information

Languages of the research day: Dutch, English, French with written support in one of the other two languages.

Participation is free but enrolment is compulsory.

Organisers: Emmanuelle Labeau (Aston University, Birmingham, UK) and Rudi Janssens (Vrije Universiteit Brussel, B)

With the support of SESLA (Université Saint-Louis, Bruxelles), CLaRA (Aston University), BRIO, Brussels Studies Institute.

Belgian Journal of Linguistics Festive Reception

Monday, December 19, 2016 from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM

Royal Library of Belgium
4 Boulevard de l’Empereur, B-1000 Bruxelles

It is our honour to invite you to the festive reception organised by the BKL/CBL on Monday 19 December 2016 in the Royal Library of Belgium in Brussels. We are celebrating the publication of this year’s special issue of the Belgian Journal of Linguistics on Computational Construction Grammar and Constructional Change. The reception will be preceded by two keynote lectures on these topics by Jóhanna Barðdal (UGent) and Luc Steels (VUB).
The event is free, but participants are asked to register in advance, by December 13.
All information on the program and how to register can be found on the event’s website.


16h00-16h10 Welcome by the issue’s guest editors
Katrien Beuls (VUB AI Lab)
Remi van Trijp (Sony CSL Paris)
16h10-16h50 The future of construction grammar looks bright
Luc Steels (VUB AI Lab)
16h50-17h30 Diachronic Construction Grammar and its Challenges
Jóhanna Barðdal (University of Ghent)
17h30 Reception
Katrien Beuls and Remi van Trijp
Guest editors Belgian Journal of Linguistics

IMPACT – 50th ALTE Conference Day

Friday 22 September 2017

Leuven, Belgium

At a time when unprecedented numbers of people are migrating in the hope of finding a better life, language tests have become a vital component of the migration policy, and the impact of tests on the lives of people is undeniable.

At the 50th ALTE conference day in Leuven, Belgium, renowned researchers from the fields of second language acquisition and language testing will discuss the impact of language tests on society and on the lives of test takers. The focal points are the CEFR, low-educated learners, education, migration, and justice

The conference is organised by ALTE and the CNaVT / Centre for Language and Education (KU Leuven).

Call for papers Translation in Transition 3

After successful editions in Copenhagen in 2014 and Germersheim in 2015, we are pleased to announce that the third Translation in Transition Conference will be held on July 13-14, 2017 at the department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication of Ghent University (Belgium).
The ongoing digitalisation of our world has caused translation to transition from a mostly manual task to a semi- or even fully automated task. Translation research has gone through a comparable transition, with advanced research methods and statistics allowing researchers to study the translation process and product more thoroughly than ever, thereby bridging the gap between related fields as corpus linguistics, computational linguistics, psycholinguistics and bilingualism studies. Within this rapidly evolving field, the traditional dividing line between translation as written text production and interpreting as oral text production has been blurred and there are now numerous areas of research and methodological frameworks that are common to both Translation and Interpreting Studies (TIS). For instance, Translation Studies in recent years has taken an interest in the cognitive processes underlying translation, a field that was previously mainly occupied by interpreting scholars. On the other hand, Interpreting Studies, inspired by developments in translation research, has recently undergone an empirical turn with the compilation of interpreting corpora and a renewed focus on interpreting as a product. Despite these obvious advances in the field, many empirical and theoretical challenges remain: how, for instance, do written translation and interpreting relate to each other, taken both from a product and a process point of view? What are similarities and differences between translation and interpreting, what do these reveal about the nature of these translation modes and how do they inform translation theories? Which theories are available to interpret empirical findings consistently and coherently? How would an empirical theory of translation and interpreting look like? And what about other translation modes, such as audiovisual translation and localisation: how do these relate empirically to written translation and interpreting? Finally, how do technological advances (such as CAT or post-editing) shape the translational product and process? By acknowledging the recent changes in both translation and interpreting research, TT3 takes a step to overcome these challenges.

Round Table on Communicative Dynamism

13-14 September, Namur

Following on from a first international Round Table on Communicative Dynamism held in Cardiff in September 2014, the University of Namur is pleased to be able to host a follow-up meeting on 13 and 14 September, focusing on information structure in terms of its categories and its interaction with the semantics and grammar of constructions.

A brief general description is included below, and further information, including the full programme and abstracts, is available on our website at Anyone who would like to attend is kindly requested to register via the web form at no later than 31 August. There is a registration fee of 25 euros covering both days and including coffee breaks and light lunches. Doctoral students who are interested in (theoretical and methodological) questions surrounding information structure are especially welcome; should you supervise any who might be interested, please do pass on the information.

With many thanks and best wishes on behalf of the organizing committee,

Lieven Vandelanotte

About this round table:

This round table focuses on linguistic mechanisms to structure information in clauses and in texts. Information structure is an essential layer of linguistic organization both in its own right and in interaction with morphosyntax and semantics. However, current approaches to information structure suffer from highly divergent terminology and conceptualization.

This round table assumes the theoretical tenets of functional linguists such as Firbas, Halliday, Dik and Sinclair, and has a strong empirical, data-driven orientation. Some papers seek to elucidate the categories of information structure that are still ill understood such as theme-rheme, given-new, and focus. Other papers investigate the interface between information structure, grammar and semantics in specific constructions. The round table is thus of interest to anyone interested in developing replicable analyses of information structure, which identify the components of information units, and larger sequences, in speech and writing.

The first round table was organized by Tom Bartlett and Gerard O’Grady at Cardiff University in September 2014, and a selection of papers from this event appeared in June 2016 as a special issue of the journal English Text Construction on « The dynamicity of communication below, around and above the clause« , edited by Ben Clarke (University of Portsmouth) and Jorge Arús Hita (Universidad Complutense de Madrid).