Tenselessness Workshop Tenselessness Workshop

FREE Entrance 

Hosted by the Centre for Applied Research and Outreach in Language Education,
University of Greenwich, UK

Tense locates the situation we speak about in time, which is crucial for adequate comprehension. Can a clause or a language be tenseless, then? Infinitives and many languages in the world lack tense indication (e.g., Mandarin Chinese, Salishan Lillooet, Halkomelem, in British Columbia, Algonquian Blackfoot in Alberta, Kalaallisut in Greenland, Guaraní and Ayoreo in Paraguay, Yucatec Maya in Mexico, Navajo in Southern US, or Hausa in West Africa). However, to discern whether such absence signals phonologically null morphemes or absence of Tense altogether is intricate. While Matthewson (2006) defends that tense content cannot be ruled out for Blackfoot, Ritter & Wiltschko (2014) argue that person and location constitute the substance of Inflection. In the absence of tense, other categories, e.g., Mood (in Kalaallisut, Bittner 2014 or Hausa, Mucha 2015) or Aspect (Lin 2012 for Chinese) establish temporal interpretation. However, whether these are mere tendencies and how exactly this should be formalised (Klein et al 2000) is debated. Finally, what light can uninflected forms (infinitives) shed onto the issue? Some authors (Wurmbrand 2014) argue all are tenseless, while others (Stowell 1982) defend only certain types are with aspect being the temporal provider too (Stowell 2007; Zwart 2014).

Aim of the workshop

To bring together researchers working on tenseless languages and uninflected clauses together to discuss tenselessness:

  1. What counts as evidence of a null but present Tense or no Tense at all? 
  2. How are subject licensing phenomena (e.g., Nominative case) accounted for in the absence of Tense?
  3. How is temporal interpretation obtained and acquired in the absence of explicit cues? 
  4. How does temporal interpretation work in uninflected cases in tensed languages?

Keynote speakers

  • Professor Lisa Matthewson, University of British Columbia 
  • Professor Wolfgang Klein, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics 
  • Professor Tim Stowell, University of California Los Angeles
  • Professor Jan-Wouter Zwart, University of Groningen

Scientific committee

  • Dr María J. Arche (University of Greenwich)
  • Prof Pier Marco Bertinetto (Scuola Normale di Pisa)
  • Prof Jürgen Bohnemeyer (University of Buffalo) 
  • Prof Bernard Comrie (University of California Santa Barbara)
  • Prof Hamida Demirdache (University of Nantes/CNRS)
  • Prof Antonio Fábregas (University of Tromsø)
  • Prof Maria Lluïsa Hernanz (Autonomous University of Barcelona)
  • Dr Angeliek van Hout (University of Groningen)
  • Dr Kwang-sup Kim (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies)
  • Prof Wolfgang Klein (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics)
  • Dr Sarah Liszka (University of Greenwich)
  • Ms Jinhong Liu (Guangzhou College of South China University of Technology)
  • Prof Lisa Matthewson (University British Columbia) 
  • Dr Anne Mucha (Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS), Mannheim)
  • Dr Fernanda Pratas (University of Lisbon)
  • Prof Roumyana Slabakova (University of Southampton)
  • Prof Tim Stowell (University of California, Los Angeles)
  • Dr Hongyuan Sun (University of Picardie/University of Nantes)
  • Prof Myriam Uribe-Etxebarria (University of Basque Country)
  • Prof Susi Wurmbrand (University of Conneticut)
  • Prof Jan-Wouter Zwarts (University of Groningen)


  • Dr María J Arche 
  • Dr Sarah Liszka 
  • Ms Dan Liu
  • Ms Harriet Lowe
  • Ms Nancy Wong

Tenselessness Workshop is hosted by the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Greenwich.