The South Caucasian Chalk Circle (SCCC):

Philology meets Linguistics

September 22-24, 2016
Paris: University of Chicago Center, 6 Rue Thomas Mann

Organized by: Ioana Chitoran, Hélène Gérardin, Lenore Grenoble, Léa Nash, Maria Polinsky


This workshop will bring together linguists working on different aspects of the scientific study of language and experts in Georgian and South Caucasian (Kartvelian) languages. Its primary goal is to promote a dialogue between scholars from different approaches, established scholars, as well as graduate students and young scholars at the beginning of their career. The timing of this workshop coincides with the Shota Rustaveli year, commemorating the greatest poet and thinker known as the Homer of the Caucasus.

Georgian and the small language family to which it belongs (Laz, Mingrelian, and Svan) manifest a dazzling array of unusual linguistic characteristics and are associated with a strong philological tradition in Georgia itself.  Scholars who do not read Georgian or Russian may be familiar with some aspects of these languages thanks to the work of a number of Western scholars. However, given the many research questions and theoretical challenges they have raised, the languages in the Kartvelian family deserve more attention from scholars, and could be explored in greater detail by an international team that would bring together specialists versed in the Georgian philological tradition and general linguists working on phonology, syntax, language acquisition, language variation, and sentence processing. This workshop is part of the bilateral effort to create closer ties between two research communities invested in the study of individual Kartvelian languages or comparative Kartvelian.

The main goal of the workshop is to c reate a research community of scholars working on Kartvelian languages, which is reflected in the format of the workshop.


There will be several tutorials and a special session on terminological issues; the main time will be devoted to our three panels: phonetics/phonology; morphosyntax, and documentation/ variation/language change. Panel chairs will change every day, see below.

Schedule (updated September 23, 2016)

Day 1, Thursday, September 22

9:30-10:00 Official opening (all panels together):

Robert Morrissey (U of Chicago), Director of the Paris Center

Lenore Grenoble (U of Chicago), Léa Nash, Ioana Chitoran, and Hélène Gerardin (Paris organizers)

10:00-11:00 General introduction (all panels together): Maria Polinsky – PDF: Polinsky introduction

11:00-11:30 Break

11:30-13:00 Tutorial 1: Georgian grammar and formal models (Léa Nash and Daniel Harbour, U Paris-8 and Queen Mary U of London)

PDF: Daniel Harbour, “Georgian preverbs: Reduplicative semantics without reduplication.”

PDF: Léa Nash, “What versionizers tell us about the structure of trivalent verbs and dative arguments.”

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:00 Tutorial 2: Kartvelian research in Georgia: Current state of affairs (Rusudan Asatiani, Tbilisi State U)

15:00-15:15 Break

15:15-17:00 Phonetics/Phonology posters (8); each presenter will have two minutes to give a short summary of their poster, then posters go on display

17:00-19:00 Panels, Meeting 1:

panelists talk about what each of them has done and what next set of questions they want to address; panels create charge for the afternoon meeting of Day 2.

In addressing pressing research questions, please focus on the following:

  1. statement of the problem: what needs to be investigated and explained
  2. relevance of the problem: what will we know once the problem is solved
  3. implications: how will our theory change once we have answers to (i)

                         Phonetics/phonology panel, chair Chitoran 

PDF: Marine Ivanishvili, Ivane Lezhava, “Are Megrelian q’ and ʔ Phonemes?

PDF: Ioana Chitoran and Marika Butskhrikidze, “Phonetics and Phonology Panel slides


                          Morphosyntax panel, chair Polinsky

PDF: Balkiz Öztürk, “Applicatives in Pazar Laz.”

PDF: Maria Ivanishvili, Ether Soselia, “The Preverbs in Megrelian.”               

PDF: Yakov A. Testelets, “Valency Increasing Derivations in Georgian: Theoretical Approaches.

                         Documentation panel, chair Grenoble

19:15-21:30: Conference reception at the Centre

Day 2, Friday, September 23

9:00-11:00 Tutorial 3: Experimental work on language (Maria Polinsky and Stavros Skopeteas, U of Maryland and U of Bielefeld)-

PDF: Maria Polinsky, “Research Methods in Experimental Linguistics.”

PDF: Stavros Skopeteas, Maria Polinsky, “Tutorial on Experimental Work and Experimental Studies in Georgian.”

11:00-11:15 Break

11:15-13:00 Morphosyntax Posters (13); each presenter will have two minutes to give a short summary of their poster, then posters go on display

13:00-14:00 Lunch

14:00-15:00 Tutorial 4: Terminological session (Léa Nash, Daniel Harbour, and Martha McGinnis, U Paris-8, Queen Mary University London, U of Victoria)

15:00-15:15 Break

15:15-18:30 Panels, Meeting 2:

Present a research question, explain why it is necessary, and how it can be explored; prepare drafts of specific proposals for future work.

The structure for each informal presentation is as follows:

  1. statement of the problem: what needs to be investigated and explained
  2. relevance of the problem: what will we know once the problem is solved
  3. implications: how will our theory change once we have answers to (i)

Phonetics/phonology panel panel, chairs Begus and Sturm

Morphosyntax panel, chair Nash

PDF: Martha McGinnis-Archibald, “The morphosyntax of thematic suffixes in Georgian.”

PDF: Leila Lomashvili, “Post-Syntactic Operations and Morpheme Order in Georgian Derived Nominals.”

Documentation panel, chair Skopteas

Day 3, Saturday, September 24

9:00-10:00 Tutorial 5: Documentary linguistics (Lenore Grenoble, U of Chicago)

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-12:15 Tutorial 6: Georgian corpora from a computational and comparative perspective (Aric Bills, CASL at U of Maryland)

12:15-13:15 Lunch

13:15-14:15  Posters on variation, acquisition, historical linguistics (6); each presenter will have two minutes to give a short summary of their poster, then posters are on display

        14:15-16:30  Panels, Meeting 3:

 Panels continue and create a draft of a working paper or a set of specific proposals

Phonetics/phonology panel, chair Borise

Morphosyntax panel, chair Foley

         PDF: Steve Foley, “South Caucasian Agreement: Optimization and Lingering Mysteries.”

          PDF: Thomas Weir, “Kartvelian and the Typology of Morphological Blocking.”

Documentation panel, chair Manjgaladze

16:30 Conference closing



Day 1 Posters. Phonetics/phonology

1. Changements diachroniques des complexes consonantiques accessifs – Tsiuri Akhvlediani & Ketevan Gabunia (State U Djavakhishvili, Tbilissi)

2. Phonetic Superation (overcoming) of Consonant Accesive Complexes –Tsiuri Akhvlediani & Ketevan Gabunia (State U Djavakhishvili, Tbilissi)

3. The phonetics of aspirate dissimilation – Gašper Begus (Harvard U)

4. Phonological system of the Proto-Kartvelian radical-languageMerab Chukhua (Tbilisi State U)

5. Word Boundaries and Metrical Structure in Rustaveli’s Vepkhist’q’aosani – Josh Falk (U of Chicago)

6. Georgian clusters: the role of timing patterns – Tomas O. Lentz, Marianne Pouplier,  Ioana Chitoran, &  Philip Hoole (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München, and Université Paris Diderot)

7. An Acoustic and Articulatory Analysis of Georgian Plosives – Michelle Meier, Julia Biesemann, Anne Hermes, & Reinhold Greisbach (U of Cologne)

8. Sonorants in Georgian Consonant Clusters – Julia Sturm (Harvard U)

Day 2 Posters. Morphosyntax

1. Spans in Verbal Agreement: The case of South Caucasian – Hagen Blix (NYU)

2. Prosody of focus in a language with a fixed focus position: evidence from Georgian – Jelena Borise (Harvard U)

3. Marking Contrastive Topic in Georgian – Laurence B-Violette (Harvard U)

4. Negative concord in Svan and Old Georgian: Implications for grammaticalization – David Erschler (U of Massachussetts at Amherst)

5. Dative blocking in GeorgianXenia Ershova (U of Chicago)

6. The Ergativity-Inversion Connection – Gallagher Flinn (U of Chicago)

7. What agreement tells us about case: Person-based split ergativity in Georgian – Steven Foley (UC Santa Cruz)

8. A base-generation approach to Georgian split DPs – Zuzanna Fuchs (Harvard U)

9.The Georgian perfect tense series and the Western European BE/HAVE auxiliary split  – Steve Hewitt

10. Modal particles in Georgian – Tamar Kalkhitashvili & Alexander Asatiani (Ilia State U & Georgian Institute of Public Affairs)

11. Post-syntactic operations and morpheme order of Georgian derived nominals – Leila Lomashvili (Shawnee State U)

12. Why is not Double Negative Attested in Unwritten Kartvelian Languages? – Maia Lomia & Ketevan Margiani (Institute of the Georgian Language, Faculty of Humanities, Tbilisi State U)

13. Grammatical and affixal models for expressing negation in Kartvelian languages from the diachronic and synchronic viewpointMaia Maduashvili, Nino Keburia, Maguli Ghambashidze, Elene Kadagishvili, Tamar Chankseliani, & Giorgi Jgharkava (Institute of the Georgian Language, Faculty of Humanities, Tbilisi State U)

Day 3 Posters. Documentation/Variation/Acquisition

1. Zanian Borrowings in the Gurian Dialect: Plant NamesNatia Botkoveli (Tbilisi State U) DOC

2. The Morpho-isogloss in the Georgian and Udi LanguagesNino Rukhadze (Tbilisi State U)

3. Verb-Drop in SvanNato Shavreshiani, Medea Sagliani and Lela Giglemiani (Arnold Chikobava Institute of Linguistics,Tbilisi State U)

4.On lexical borrowings and language contact: A case of Georgian, Megrelian, and Batsbi languages – Maka Tetradze (Arnold Chikobava Institute of Linguistics,Tbilisi State U)

5. Designing NLP tools for Georgian Language – Irakli Tsikarishvili & Urszula Boryczka (U of Silesia in Katowice)

6. Why Is There a Tendency of Loss of the Marker of the Third Indirect Objective Person in Modern Georgian?Lela Tsikhelashvili (Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State U) – PDF