Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)


Choosing your Words: Lexicalisation and Grammaticalisation in Greek and Latin

01 April 2022–02 April 2022, 9:30 am–3:30 pm


The aim of this international conference is to examine change in the lexicon and the constructions of Greek and Latin.

Event Information

Open to

All | UCL staff | UCL students | UCL alumni




Department of Greek & Latin


IAS Common Ground
G11 Ground Floor, South Wing, UCL
Ground floor, South Wing, Wilkins Building
United Kingdom

We are planning to hold this conference at UCL, and also to enable remote (online) access for participants who cannot travel to London.

The aim of this conference is to examine change in the lexicon and the constructions of Greek and Latin. The lexicon and constructions of languages, thought they have traditionally been viewed as two separate fields of linguistic study, can be understood as continuous entities. The English expression “who knows” can, for instance, function at the same time as an interrogative as well as an adverb, the latter being traditionally represented by a lexeme. A similar situation can be observed in Aristophanes’ ma ton Dia or the Plautine ita me di ament, etc. Examining the variation and evolution of the language of the literary and documentary corpus can help us develop different or more thorough interpretations of these texts.

This continuum between constructions and the lexicon is an area where traditional boundaries between lexicon, morphology, syntax and semantics may be unhelpful in understanding how and why changes occur. This is symptomatic of a more systematic issue with terminology: compounds, for example, are the result of a lexicalisation process by which all of these factors interact with each other. We hope that case studies from the history of Greek and Latin, underpinned by a range of theoretical approaches, will help us to develop better frameworks for the analysis and explanation of linguistic innovation, a field in which current terminological constraints can make it hard to describe the phenomena clearly.



Friday 1 April

9:30    Coffee & registration

10:30 – 12:45 Paper session 1
  10:30 – 11:15        Prof. Silvia Luraghi (Pavia)
  Lexical and constructional patterns of Ancient Greek perception verbs                
  11:15 – 12:00        Dr Guglielmo Inglese (Leuven)
  Talking and fighting in Rome: syntactic alternations with lexical reciprocal verbs in Latin
  12:00 – 12:45        Baihui Cheng (UCL)
  Headedness and centricity of Homeric nominal compounds

12:45 –  14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:30 Paper session 2
  14:00 – 14:45         Prof. Martin Haspelmath (Max Planck Institute Jena)
  Against ‘lexicalization’ (and what to replace it with)
  14:45 – 15:30         Tomaž Potočnik (UCL)
  Epistemic modality and subjectivity: Evidence from comedy and letters

15:30 – 16:00 Break (tea, coffee)

16:00 – 17:30 Paper session 3
  16:00 – 16:45         Ezra La Roi (Ghent)
  Category changes in Greek diachrony: the trajectories of fossilized mood forms
  16:45 – 17:30         Sólveig Hilmarsdóttir (Cambridge)
  Filling the ‘gaps’ of the Latin participial system: Discourse analysis and contact-induced  grammaticalisation

17:30 – 19:00 Reception
19:30 Conference dinner

Saturday 2 April

9:30 – 11:00 Paper session 4
  9:30 – 10:15        Prof. James Clackson (Cambridge)
  It’s all Greek to me: Greek loanwords in Republican Latin
  10:15 – 11:00       Mathilde Bru (UCL)
  The Attic Lexicographers on Lexicalisation

11:00 –  11:30 Break (tea, coffee)

11:30 – 13:00 Paper session 5
  11:30 – 12:15        Elena Squeri (Genova/Paris)
  Omitting Your Words: semantic specialisation in the Ancient Greek verbal system
  12:15 – 13:00        Shoni Lavie-Driver (Cambridge)
  The future and modality in the Cassiodoran Latin Translation of Josephus

13:00 – 14:00 Lunch

14:00 – 15:30 Paper session 6
  14:00 – 14:45        Dr Evert Van Emde Boas (Aarhus)
  Not first at all: on (τὴν) ἀρχήν and grammaticalisation
  14:45 – 15:30        Luis Unceta Gómez (Madrid)
  Pro di immortales! And other composite interjections in Latin. From syntagms to pragmatic markers.

  • Abstracts can be downloaded here

 Postgraduate students: bursaries
We plan to offer travel and accommodation expenses to all postgraduate students who have papers accepted (if no other sources of funding are available to them).

  • We also intend to offer a number of bursaries to enable students (from the UK and abroad) who are not speaking to attend the conference.
  • Details and an application form will be published here shortly.

Conference organisers: Mathilde Bru, Baihui Cheng, Stephen Colvin, and Tomaž Potočnik.

Location: UCL Institute of Advanced Study (rm G11, South Wing), University College London WC1E 6BT

We acknowledge with thanks financial support from the Leventis Foundation and UCL alumni; the Classical Association; the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies; the Institute of Classical Studies; and the UCL Institute of Advanced Studies.