Modeling Argument Alternations


All PhD students in Linguistics at Ghent University

Organising and Scientific Committe

Topic and objectives

The aim of the course is a thorough, typologically informed overview of the phenomena which fall under the broad category of grammatical voice. The course covers a very wide range of constructions, highlighting the remarkable variation found across languages, and offers a detailed model of the different types of argument alternations to capture the sense that despite the variation languages are deeply semilar. 

Argument structure and valency lie at the core of all grammatical models today, functional as well as formal models. There are varying conceptions of what argument structure is exactly. One of the most comprehensive models of argument structure has been developed within an influential theoretical syntactic framework of LFG. This framework has a modular architecture and permits that the different modules of the grammar - such as constituent structure, functional structure, argument structure, or information structure - may use different primitives as unites of description, and that they may be governed by different rules. The LFG (Lexical-Functional Grammar) framework has become a major theoretical model in linguistics today and presents the perfect opportunity to broaden your linguistic horizon and deepen your knowledge of adjacent linguistic frameworks. Such knowledge, based on an overview of the field of theoretical models within grammar, is one of the cornerstones in linguistics education today.


  • Dr Anna Kibort   is a morphosyntactician with expertise in the area of grammatical voice and valency.


18 - 22 April 2016 from 10:00-12:00 and 12:45-14:45. Each lecture of 1.5h is followed by 0.5h discussion.

Lecture titles:

1. Argument structure phenomena: an overview

2. The passive and other morphosyntactic alternations

3. Objects, ditransitives, and the dative shift

4. Applicatives and other operations that change lexical valency

5. The argument structure of causatives

6. Impersonal and unexpressed arguments

7. Argument structure, morphology, and syntatic ambiguity

8. Alternations involving intermediary agents

9. Middles and reflexives

10. Ergative syntactic systems and Philippine-type languages


Ghent University, Jozef Plateauzaal (Site: Plateau-Rozier) Except for on Thursday afternoon, when we will be at D2.20 (Site: Plateau-Rozier)

Registration fee

Free of charge for members of the Ghent University Doctoral School of Arts, Humanities & Law


Follow the registration link:  Your registration will be confirmed by e-mail.

Number of participants

Maximum 20

Evaluation criteria (doctoral training programme)

100% active participation in all sessions and discussions