Workshop on analytic causatives

Organized by Jaakko Leino (jaakko.leino (at) & Ruprecht von Waldenfels (ruprecht.waldenfels (at)

To be held at the
22nd Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics

Aalborg, Denmark, June 19
22 2006

The deadline for abstract submission has passed, both for the workshop and for the conference. Anyone interested in the workshop theme is warmly welcome to attend, however.

The papers accepted for the workshop are listed on a separate page. Abstracts are also available online.

Workshop abstract:

Recent years have witnessed investigations into analytic causatives in a number of individual languages. There is research currently done or recently completed dealing with such constructions in Finnish, Dutch, Swedish, German, English and in the Slavic languages, in frameworks including generative, construction grammar, cognitive and functionalist approaches.

The proposed workshop aims to provide a forum for discussion for linguists working on analytic causatives from any of these or other perspectives.

There are two major traditions involving the study of permissive causatives. In the tradition of the Leningrad typological school, factitive causation (such as eng. make / have / get) and permissive causation (eng. let) are seen as two main modes of causation, in some sense as the counterparts to the main modal operators of nessecity and possibility. In most linguistic work done in the West, however, the focus has largely been on factitive causation, with permissive causation being seen as something related, but separate.

A treatment of analytic causatives that takes both permissive and factitive causation (or causation proper, as it has been called) into account is called for, among other things, by the fact that in many European languages, e.g. most Germanic languages, Finnish, Estonian, Czech, the most prominent analytic causative formants express both permissive and factitive causation (e.g. Swedish låta):

 (1)       a.         Kungen    lät         fången             gå. (Swedish, permissive)
                        king-DEF let-PST prisoner-DEF go
                        ‘The king let the prisoner go’

            b.         Kungen    lät          halshugga fången. (Swedish, factitive)
                        king-DEF let-PST behead     prisoner-DEF
                        ‘The king had the prisoner beheaded’

Since permissive causation has not been extensively studied, we would like to encourage participants to focus on the relationship of permissive and factitive causatives, as well as on permissives themselves, without, however, limiting  the workshop to these topics.

From a historical point of view, the development of permissive to factitive or underspecified causative formants (or vice versa) in some of these languages remains to be fully understood. Both contact-based and independent accounts have been suggested for different languages. There are considerable similarities as well as divergences in the expression of these functions in the European languages yet to be put into perspective.

The workshop wants to bring together specialists studying these constructions in different languages as well as from different theoretic points of view, believing that such an exchange will advance the understanding of language specific as well as European areal and typological factors governing the form and functioning of analytic causatives.

Page updated by Jaakko Leino, March 2006