Workshop on Partitive cases, pronouns and determiners: diachrony and variation University of Pavia - 2 September 2019

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Partitive cases, pronouns and determiners: diachrony and variation

University of Pavia, Pavia (Italy) - 2 September 2019

Following the Workshop on Partitive Determiners and Partitive Case (Venice, 13-14 November 2017) the second workshop of the PARTE Network will take place in Pavia on September 2nd, 2019.
PARTE (Partitivity in European Languages) is a network of nine research teams from European universities, which combines theoretical linguist, dialectologists, historical linguists, typologists, and applied linguists. It is funded by NWO (the Netherlands Organization for scientific research) and co-funded by the Universities of Zurich, Venice, Budapest and Pavia.

Aims of the Workshop

The workshop aims to bring together researchers on partitive cases, including genitives or ablatives used as partitives, partitive determiners, partitive pronouns, and other partitive elements, and focusing on their diachronic development, on dialectal variation, language contact and language acquisition.

Contact person: Silvia Luraghi, University of Pavia, ti.vpinu|ihgarul#ti.vpinu|ihgarul

Workshop website:

This event is supported by the Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR): "Dipartimenti di Eccellenza Program (2018–2022)” - Dept. of Humanities, University of Pavia.

Invited speakers

• Michael Daniel, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow
• Riho Grünthal, University of Helsinki

Scientific Committee

Anna Cardinaletti, University “Ca’ Foscari”, Venice
Michael Daniel, HSE, Moscow
Giuliana Giusti, University “Ca’ Foscari”, Venice
Riho Grünthal, University of Helsinki
Tuomas Huumo, University of Turku
Iván Igartua, University of the Basque Country, Vitoria-Gasteiz
Tabea Ihsane, University of Geneva
Silvia Luraghi, University of Pavia
Petra Sleeman, University of Amsterdam
Anne Tamm, Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary, Budapest
Urtzi Etxeberria, IKER, CNRS

Call for papers

Abstracts are invited for oral and/or poster presentation.
Abstracts must be anonymous and no longer than two pages, 12 pt single spaced in pdf format.
Please submit your abstract through Easychair:

Important dates

• Deadline for submission: 31 March 2019
• Notification of acceptance: 30 April 2019
• Workshop: 2 September 2019


The term ‘partitive’ has been used in linguistic literature in reference to different types of linguistic items (morphemes and/or constructions). In the first place, partitive may refer to partitive nominal constructions, codifying the part-whole relation, as in I drank some of the wine from that bottle, or to pseudo-partitive nominal constructions, as in I drank a glass of wine (Koptjevskaja-Tamm 2001: 527).
In contrast to these two well-described types of construction, other items that are also referred to as partitives have, until recently, never received a unified treatment, in spite of striking similarities. Such partitive elements include partitive cases, as in Finnish or Estonian, partitive determiners, as in Basque, French and Italian, and partitive pronouns, as in Germanic and Romance languages.
(1) Elmeri löys-i mansiko-i-ta.
Elmer find-3SG.PST strawberry-PL-PAR [Finnish]
(2) Elmer ha trovato delle fragole.
Elmer have.3SG.PRS find.PST.PTCP ART.PAR.F.PL strawberry(F).PL [Italian]
“Elmer found some strawberries.”
In (1) and (2) the NPs mansikoita and delle fragole ‘some strawberries’ refer to an indefinite quantity of not previously identified items, contrary to partitive nominal constructions and do not even qualify as pseudo-partitive nominal constructions (Luraghi/Huumo 2014). Partitive pronouns refer to indefinite quantities, as ne in (3).
(3) Elmer ne ha trovate molte.
Elmer PAR.PRON have.3SG.PRS find.PST.PTCP.F.PL many.F.PL [Italian]
“Elmer found many (of them).”
A number of recent publications have highlighted cross-linguistic and typological similarities of partitive elements, including cases, partitively used genitives or ablatives, determiners, and pronouns (Luraghi/Huumo 2014, Ihsane/Stark fothc.). Research on the rise of partitive elements has shown their relation to other linguistic items and constructions. For example, the French partitive article is the outcome of the fusion of the genitive/ablative preposition de with the definite article, and its diachrony can be traced down in historical sources (Carlier 2007). In in Finnic languages (Wickman 1955: 27), the partitive case ending has been shown to have originated out of older ablative cases or postpositions. The partitive use of the genitive case is typical of Ancient Indo-European languages as well. Remarkably, some of these languages feature a separate ablative case, the development is partly different, and the partitive meaning seems to be directly connected with the genitive, not necessarily involving the ablative (see Luraghi/Kittilä 2014:49-53). Hence, more research on diachrony is needed. Research on language contact suggests that the extension of partitive elements may be an areal phenomenon (Bjarnadóttir/De Smit 2013, Seržant 2015), and that partitive elements may constitute a characteristic but up to now not acknowledged feature of Standard Average European (Luraghi/De Smijt/Igártua forthc.). In the Oceanic area available indefinite partitives show a different extension and possibly different diachronic developments from European partitive elements (Budd 2014), which would also be worth investigating more in depth.
Moreover, dialectal variation in virtually all areas in which languages show partitive elements is under-investigated, and especially non-standard varieties deserve more accurate and in-depth treatment. In several areas, data are missing where native speakers of the dialects are disappearing. Research on contact among languages of different genetic affiliation and contact among varieties, including standard and sub-standard, of the same language is of paramount importance for the understanding of both diachronic change and synchronic variation (e.g. Cerruti/Regis forthc.). Partitive determiners may exist in Luxembourgish, possibly as a contact phenomenon, but available descriptions are superficial, and confuse different constructions. Romance languages possessing partitive determiners also have (clitic) partitive pronominals (Ihsane 2013), but from a comparative perspective it is unclear whether partitive pronominals that also occur in Germanic varieties (cf. Glaser 1992), have the same syntactic distribution and meaning(s) as Modern Romance ones. In this perspective, learners’ varieties also deserve attention, as they can help shed light on how interference between languages with and without partitive elements operates.

Possible topics

• The rise of partitive cases, pronouns and determiners: origin of the development, grammaticalization, constructional change.
• Partitives and indefiniteness: Moravcsik (1978: 272) mentions among typical semantic correlates of partitives the definitness-indefinitness of the noun phrase. How does this function of partitives emerge, and how does it correlate with the morphological status of the partitive element (case marker vs. determiner, cf. Luraghi/Kittilä 2014: 20-27).
• What is the relation between partitive elements and other markers of NP indefiniteness, e.g. indefinite articles? Is the relation the same in different linguistic areas?
• How specific cases (genitives, ablatives, …) develop into partitive markers and possible constrains on ensuing syncretism: what is the relation between the genitive, the partitive and the ablative in languages that feature distinct cases? Do other cases e.g. locatives, or other determiners e.g. the numeral one/indefinite article (see Budd 2014 on Oceanic languages) also develop into partitives?
• Partitive elements deriving from case markers (cases, adpositions) do not show the typical function of case markers to indicate grammatical relations (Moravcsik 1978, Luraghi 2003, Luraghi/Kittilä 2014 among others). How does this shift come about precisely?
• Contact induced change and the rise or loss of partitive elements as documented in historical varieties (e.g. Ibero-Romance, see Carlier/Lemiroy 2014)
• Dialectal variation, including field studies and documentation of vernacular and sub-standard varieties of poorly documented languages.
• The acquisition of partitives: bilingual speakers and learners. How are partitive elements acquired? Do bilingual speakers of languages that feature different types of partitive elements show interference in their use of partitive elements?


Bjarnadóttir, Valgerður and Merlijn De Smit. 2013. Primary argument case-marking in Baltic and Finnic. Baltu Filologija 22:1. 31–65.
Budd, Peter. 2014. Partitives in Oceanic languages. Luraghi/Huumo, 523–561.
Carlier, Anne. 2007. From preposition to Article: the grammaticalization of the French partitive. Studies in Language 31(1). 1–49.
Carlier, Anne and Beatrice Lamiroy. 2014. The gramaticalization of the prepositional partitive in Ro- mance. In S. Luraghi e T. Huumo (eds.), Partitive Case and Related Categories. Berlino: Mou- ton de Gruyter. 477-519.
Cerruti, Massimo and Riccardo Regis. Forthcoming. Partitive determiners in Piedmontese: a case of language varia- tion and change in a contact setting. In Ihsane/Stark, fothcoming.
Glaser, Elvira. 1992. Umbau partitiver Strukturen in der Geschichte des Deutschen. Sprachwissenschaft 17:2. 113-132.
Ihsane, Tabea. 2013. En pronominalization in French and the structure of nominal expressions. Syntax 16(3). 217–249.
Ihsane, Tabea and Elisabeth Stark (eds.). Forthcoming. Shades of Partitivity: Formal and areal properties. Special Issue in Linguistics.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria. 2001. „A piece of the cake‟ and „a cup of tea‟. In Circum-Baltic Languages. Volume 2: Grammar and Typology, Östen Dahl & Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm (eds). Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins, 523-568
Luraghi, Silvia 2003. On the Meaning of Prepositions and Cases. A Study of the Expression of Semantic Roles in Ancient Greek. Amsterdan: Benjamins.
Luraghi, Silvia & Tuomas Huumo (eds.). 2014. Partitive cases and related categories. Berlin.
Luraghi, Silvia and Seppo Kittilä. 2014. The typology and diachrony of partitives. In Silvia Luraghi & Tuomas Huumo (eds). Partitive Cases and Related Categories. Berlin/New York, Mouton De Gruyter, 17-62
Luraghi, Silvia, Merlijn De Smit and Iván Igártua. Forthcoming. Contact indiced change in the languages of Europe. In Ihsane/Stark, fothcoming.
Moravcsik, Edith 1978. On the case marking of objects. In Joseph Greenberg et al. (eds.) Universals of Human Language, vol IV. Syntax. Stanford University Press, 249-290.
Seržant, Ilja. 2015. Independent partitive as a Circum-Baltic isogloss. Journal of Language Contact 8. 341–418.
Wickman, Bo. 1955. The form of the object in the Uralic languages. Uppsala: Almqvist and Wiksell.

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