The 25th Diachronic Generative Syntax conference (DiGS25)

June 25, 2024 - June 28, 2024

We are pleased to announce that the 25th Diachronic Generative Syntax conference (DiGS25) will be held at the University of Mannheim (Germany) from 25th of June 2024 to 28th of June 2024.

DiGS25 will be hosted by project H3 of the DFG research unit SILPAC (Carola Trips, Tara Struik, Lena Kaltenbach (University of Mannheim)) and Mercator Fellow Charles Yang (University of Pennsylvania).

Since its first installment in 1990, DiGS has established itself as one of the world’s leading venues for the formal investigation of syntactic change. More information about the history (and near future) of this conference series can be found at

To mark the occasion of the 25th edition of DiGS, we will kick off the conference with a one-day pre-conference workshop on the “Legacy of the Penn historical corpora” on the 25h of June, 2024. Their use has featured prominently in the research of many members of the DiGS community, and over the years the number of corpora and tools to search them have greatly expanded. The workshop will reflect on the history of the corpora originally created at the University of Pennsylvania, but also showcase new and novel ways of using the Penn format.

Generative theories of diachronic syntax have always acknowledged the role of acquisition in language change (Lightfoot 1979, 1991, Roberts 1993, see for recent discussion Cournane 2019 and the commentary papers). One recent trend in diachronic syntax is the use of quantitatively precise learning models to explain variation and change (such as the variational learning model (Yang 2000), applied in Heycock & Wallenberg 2013 and the Tolerance Principle (Yang 2016), applied in Kodner 2020, 2022, Trips & Rainford 2022, among others). In addition to the general sessions, one session of the conference will therefore be exclusively dedicated to this new line of research.

The invited speakers for the conference are:
Beatrice Santorini (University of Pennsylvania, invited speaker for the workshop)
Jordan Kodner (Stony Brook University, invited speaker for session on learnability)
Michelle Troberg (University of Toronto)
Eric Fuß (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Cournane, Ailís. 2019. A developmental view on incrementation in language change . Theoretical Linguistics, 45 (3-4): 127-150.
Heycock, Caroline & Joel Wallenberg. 2013. How variational acquisition drives syntactic change. Journal of Comparative Germanic Linguistics 16: 127–157.
Kodner, Jordan. 2020. Language Acquisition in the Past. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.
Kodner, Jordan. 2022. Language Acquisition Guiding Theory and Diachrony: A Case Study from Latin Morphology. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 41:733–792.
Lightfoot, David. 1979. Principles of Diachronic Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.
Lightfoot, David. 1991. How to set parameters. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Roberts, Ian. 1993. Verbs and diachronic syntax: A comparative history of English and French. Dordrecht: Kluwer.
Trips, Carola & Tom Rainsford. 2022. Tolerating subject-experiencers? Yang’s Tolerance Principle applied to psych verbs under contact in Middle English. Journal of Historical Syntax 6(12): 1-43.
Yang, Charles. 2000. Internal and external forces in language change. Language Variation and Change 12: 231-250.
Yang, Charles. 2016. The Price of Linguistic Productivity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Submission instructions:

We invite abstract submissions for the following categories:
General session: oral presentations (30 minutes + 10 minutes discussion)
Session on learnability: oral presentations (30 minutes + 10 minutes discussion)
Workshop on Penn corpora: oral presentations (30 minutes + 10 minutes discussion) or lightning talks demonstrating new tools or resources (10 minutes demonstration + poster)

Please indicate upon submission whether you want your submission to be considered for the general session, session on learnability or the workshop.

Abstracts should be anonymous and no longer than two A4 pages, including references and examples, in 12-point Times New Roman, with margins of at least 2,5 cm / 1 inch. Submissions for the entire event (lightning talks excluded) are limited to a maximum of one individual and one joint abstract per author.

The language of the conference is English.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: January 31, 2024.

Notification of acceptance: March 15, 2024.

Submissions open: Nov. 15, 2023 - Jan. 31, 2024

Submit to this conference