The Syntagmatic Properties of Complementation Patterns: Accommodating Lexical and Grammatical uses of CTP-clauses

09-10 May 2019, Liège, Belgium

Recently, much attention has gone to lexical versus grammatical uses of complement-taking predicate (CTP) clauses (Boye & Harder 2007, 2012; Davidse et al. 2015; Van linden et al. 2016). Concomitant with this, the question has been raised whether these two uses should receive a different structural analysis. Complement clauses of lexical uses have been analysed as subordinate to the CTP-clause. In (1), e.g., the that-clause is typically analysed as the direct object of the main verb; in (4), the that-clause is traditionally analysed as an extraposed subject clause (cf. Quirk et al. 1985: 1224–1225; Huddleston and Pullum 2002: 1252–1254). Semantically, the complement clauses in (1) and (4) are viewed as only secondary. What is discursively primary is the specific emotional state conveyed by the CTP-clauses. The that-clauses represent the proposition presupposed in the processes of regretting (1) and feeling wonder (4) (Van linden et al. 2016).

(1) This was Rosie at her most Rosieish, and Liz only regretted that Pritch wasn’t there to appreciate just what she was up against. (WB)
(2) He spoke out after pro-Agreement parties were presented with the proposals. “I think it is clear that all of the issues have to be addressed,” he said. (WB)
(3) Alain Prost proved you can take time out and make a great comeback when he won his fourth world crown […]. There is no doubt the constant testing and pressure of racing takes a hell of a lot out of you. (WB)
(4) My kids got to see that my out-of-home life was far more complex and intense than they thought. It was a wonder to them that I get to do all this stuff. (IC)

While syntagmatically lexical uses of CTP-clauses are viewed as having ‘complementizing’ status, grammatical uses (2)-(3) are argued to show ‘modifying’ status (Boye & Harder 2007: 568), as the CTP cannot impose its semantic profile on the complement clause (cf. Langacker 1987: 309). The complement clauses contain the main information, and the main clauses are viewed as stance markers or interpersonal modifiers (McGregor 1997: 236). That is, (3) does not describe an act of not doubting. Rather, the impersonal CTP-clause there’s no doubt expresses the speaker’s epistemic stance towards the proposition coded by the that-clause; it signals a high degree of certainty (Davidse et al. 2015: 51). In (2), the personal CTP-clause I think functions as a speech act modifier, hedging the claim in the complement clause (cf. Nuyts 2009: 152). Both CTP-clauses are not part of what is asserted and hence cannot be challenged (Boye & Harder 2007: 573).

This workshop aims to focus on functional approaches towards complementation patterns, and invites contributions discussing the following questions:

– What makes CTP-clauses prone to shift from complementizing to modifying uses? Which semantic types of complement construction (e.g. factive constructions?) do not allow for this shift?
– Does the formal type of complement bear on the possibility of the CTP-clause to have either complementizing or modifying status?
– Does the semantic type of complement (e.g. State of Affairs vs. proposition) bear on the possibility of the CTP-clause to have either complementizing or modifying status?
– Do complement constructions with impersonal matrices (like (3)-(4)) manifest the same structural and functional parameters and shifts as personal CTP-clauses (2)?
– Do lexical uses of CTP-clauses always diachronically precede grammatical uses?
– What does prosody tell us about syntagmatic relationships?

Invited speakers: Kasper Boye (University of Copenhagen), Gunther Kaltenböck (University of Graz) and William McGregor (Aarhus University)
Organizers: An Van linden (Liège), Lieselotte Brems (Liège), Kristin Davidse (Leuven), Lieven Vandelanotte (Namur)

Call for Papers:

We invite 500-word abstracts addressing any of the above issues or related questions, for 20 minute-presentations (+ 10′ discussion time). Abstracts should be submitted to, and should contain title, author’s name and affiliation.

Deadline: 20 December 2018
Notification: 15 February 2019