The Project "The Baltic Verb: Grams, Categories and Domain"


On January 8, 2018, a team of researchers at Vilnius University has started the implementation of a new four-year Global Grant project financed by the European Union Social Fund and supervised by the Lithuanian Research Council:

The Baltic Verb: grams, categories and domain

MTEP  09.3.3-LMT-K-712-01-0071

Project leader Prof. Dr. Axel Holvoet

Project aims

Since the final decade of the last century, typologically informed research into grammatical meaning and the important contribution of construction grammar to our understanding of grammatical structure have inspired innovative work on grammatical features of individual languages as well as valuable cross-linguistic investigations. Though most linguist would probably not deny that a language is a system, greater emphasis is laid on the historical dimension of grams as productes of grammaticalization processes, and the notion of cross-linguistically identifiable focal grammatical meanings helps scholars in highlighting both typological regularities and the unique features every language can boast. In the domain of Baltic, lots of exciting research tasks and unsolved problems are still waiting to be tackled. Both one-language and parallel corpora ar being developed for Baltic, which enables a more objective view of patterns in usage and development tendencies, and also offers a possibility of quantitative verification. From this project we a breakthrough in the investigation of several domains of Baltic grammar.

Three thematic domains have been singled out: voice a broad sense (passive, middle, causatives), the TAME complex, and ‘minor grams’. We hope to gain a better understanding of the typological specificity of the Lithuanian passive, the nature and mutual relationships of constructions involving reflexive morphology, and the less typical functions of morphological causatives. In the TAME domain, we will give special attention to aspect, a category that is known to be weakly grammaticalized in Baltic, so that a thorough investigation could reveal what an aspect system in statu nascendi looks like. We will also deal with tense grams (the perfect), and with the realis : irrealis opposition. The notion of minor grams comprises both grams restricted to some smaller domain of the verbal system, and constructional idioms.

The project probes further into several grammatical domains that had already loomed large in a previous Global Grant project implemented by Vilnius University between 2012 and 2015 – Valency, Argument Realization and Grammatical Functions in Baltic. This is only natural in view of the manifold links and interactions between verbal semantics and morphosyntax and various aspects of clausal architecture. We will build further on previous research into voice (passive, reflexive and middle, causativity) and place it in a new context. The transition from the syntax-semantics interface to grammatical semantics reflects both the underlying continuity in  research endeavours and the ever widening scope of typologically work on the Baltic languages. At the same time, in more and more domains the data of the Baltic languages are made accessible to linguists.


In addition to the workshops we will organize to discuss plans, exchange views and discuss theoretical and practical problems, the team members will closely cooperate in smaller groups, deviding research tasks, formulating research results and working together on article texts. Mutual evaluation will also be an essential factor in ensuring the highest possible quality of the  publications planned as outcome of our project.  

Publication of results

The results of the project will be reflected in three volumes of articles, dealing with the TAME domain (tense-aspect-mood-evidentiality), voice (passive, middle, causative) and minor grams respectively.


The project team


Axel Holvoet (Vilnius)

Peter Arkadiev (Moscow, Vilnius)

Nicole Nau (Poznań, Vilnius)

Liina Lindström (Tartu, Vilnius)

Birutė Spraunienė (Vilnius)

Vaiva Žeimantienė (Vilnius)

Anna Daugavet (St Petersburg, Vilnius)

Kirill Kozhanov (Moscow, Vilnius)

Asta Žuklytė (Vilnius)

Pawel Brudzyński (Warsaw, Vilnius)