TbiLLC 2015: Eleventh International Tbilisi Symposium
on Language, Logic and Computation

Workshop on Language

How to Make Things Happen in the Grammar: the Implementation of Obligatoriness 

  1. Schedule
  2. Workshop Proposal
  3. Invited Speakers
  4. Call for Papers
  5. Important Dates
  6. Organizers
  7. Contact





Ivy Sichel

Pronominal Competitions


Doreen Georgi and Martin Salzmann

Local modeling of the gap/resumptive complementarity under top-down Case attraction


Sacha Podobryaev

Maximize Presupposition as an
Obligatory Principle


Steven Foley

Is the Subset Principle violable? The view
from Georgian agreement


Heidi Klockmann, Coppe van Urk, Franca Wesseling

is fallible, EPP is not: Investigating EPP effects in Dutch


Omer Preminger

The grammars(s) of ungrammaticality



Workshop Proposal

We can distinguish between two kinds of obligatoriness in grammar: unconditional obligatoriness and conditional obligatoriness. An example of the former is the EPP in English (‘you must’), the requirement that all finite clauses have a specifier. An example of the latter is the fact that in leista varieties of Spanish, animate objects must be realized as datives unless the grammar blocks dative objects; in that case, animate objects may be accusative (‘if you can, you must’) (Ormazabal & Romero 2007). These examples are drawn from syntax but parallel cases are found in the semantics literature. Chierchia’s 2013 analysis of Negative Polarity Items requires unconditional exhaustification. On the other hand, we find that while controlled PRO in the complement of an attitude verb must be interpreted as `de se’, no such restriction applies elsewhere. 

Unconditional obligatoriness is easy to implement in the grammar. Within minimalist syntax, a common way to do so is by using a feature or an element that forces the presence of some other operator/operation e.g. the encoding of the exhaustification requirement on NPIs in Chierchia 2013, or movement of an XP e.g. encodings of the EPP restriction. If the associated operation does not take place, the structure is ungrammatical. Implementing conditional obligatoriness is more complex. One way to think about conditional obligatoriness is in terms of optimization i.e. a certain condition must be satisfied unless it conflicts with another condition which it is even more important to satisfy. An interesting alternative developed in recent work by Preminger 2014 involves putting the conditional part of the requirement in the structural description of the operation and making the operation itself be obligatory. If the conditions for applying the operation do not hold, the operation does not take place. But the failure of the operation does not however lead to ungrammaticality. 

The question that we would like to explore is whether a unified treatment of obligatoriness is possible in the grammar. There are a number of possibilities here. It could be that we need both kinds of obligatoriness. But a more fascinating possibility is that the kind of obligatoriness we find might correlate with the part of grammar we are dealing with. We are interested in talks that explore obligatoriness in grammar and its implementation. What processes are obligatory and what kind of obligatoriness do we have? And does the mechanism for enforcing obligatoriness correlate with the part of the grammar that we are operating in? Finally where does optionality in grammar fit with our treatments of obligatoriness? 

Invited Speakers

Omer Preminger (University of Maryland, College Park, USA)
Ivy Sichel (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) 


Call for Papers

Without being exhaustive, we are interested in the following topics: 

i. The relationship between obligatoriness and blocking e.g. what blocks the head external analysis of relative clauses, leaving us with the head raising and matching analyses? 

ii. The relationship between movement and resumption -- it seems that when a movement strategy is possible, ‘true’ resumption is unavailable. 

iii. Situations of ineffability -- cases where grammatical requirements make expression of certain structures impossible e.g. lack of do-support with constituent negation 

iv. Clitic restrictions and their impact on interpretation e.g. the restrictions on accusative clitics in leista varieties, binding restrictions on clitic clusters. 

We invite abstract submissions for 45 (35+10) minute oral presentations devoted to the implementation of obligatoriness in grammar. See call information for details concerning the workshop theme. Abstracts should contain original research that, at the time of submission, has neither been published nor accepted for publication. One person can submit at most one abstract as sole author and one abstract as co-author. Abstracts must be submitted electronically in PDF format. Submissions should be anonymous and not reveal the identity of the author(s) in any form (e.g., references, file name or properties of the abstract). Abstracts must not exceed two pages in letter-size or A4 paper, including examples and references, with 2.5 cm (or 1 inch) margins on all sides and 12 point font size. Abstracts should be submitted by email to the following address: obligatoriness2015gmail.com. 


Important dates

Submission deadline: May 15, 2015, 11:59 PM, CET 
Notification of acceptance: Late June 
Registration deadline: September 1, 2015 
Workshop: September 22, 2015



Rajesh Bhatt & Vincent Homer (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)



{bhatt, vincenthomer}linguist.umass.edu