14 May 2011

Call for papers: Islands in Contemporary Linguistic Theory

In November 16-18, 2011, the University of the Basque Country in Vitoria-Gasteiz is hosting a conference on Islands. Two page abstracts are due June 27. A description of the conference follows.

Meeting description: Islands in Contemporary Linguistic Theory (ISLANDS 2011)

Displacements have occupied a central role in the development of syntactic theorizing since the outset of Generative Grammar. They are taken as clear exponents of context-sensitive operations that take place in local domains. However, it is well established that some of these operations cannot take place in certain environments which are usually termed 'islands' after Ross (1967) (e.g Complex NP Constraint, Wh-islands, Negative islands, Adjunct islands, Coordinate Structure Constraints). Over the years, there have been a wide range of accounts for the nature and source of the various island effects (for an overview cf. Goodluck & Rochmont 1992, Szabolcsi 2006, Boeckx 2007), with explanations in terms of syntactic locality constraints (e.g. Chomsky 1986, Rizzi 1990, Starke 2001), information structure (e.g. Erteshik-Shir 1973), language processing (e.g. Kluender 1998, Phillips 2006) or semantic well-formedness (e.g. Szabolcsi & Zwarts 1993, Abrusan 2007). Although there is no consensus emerging from these studies, it has become clear that the classical 'bounding node'/'barrier' type of explanation has to be revised and reanalyzed taking into account the latest trends in generative grammar (specially, phase-based computations, multidominance structures, etc.). Thus, some of the questions that we would like to address in this workshop are the following ones:

- What makes islands opaque domains? Do island effects reflect structural ill-formedness, semantic contradiction or language processing difficulties?
- Are some domains inherently islands or is islandhood always derivative?
- What do islands do? What are the different consequences of derivational and representational approaches to islands? (cf., i.a., Boeckx (2003), Gallego (2010) and Abe & Hornstein (2011) for discussion).
- What is the reality and nature of the 'island repair' strategies like the ones proposed in works like Merchant (2001), Fox & Pesetsky (2004), Lasnik (2009)?

We would like this workshop to provide a meeting point and a forum for open discussion for all researchers working on new trends to explain the nature and effects of islands.

Invited speakers

Marta Abrusan (University of Oxford)
Cedric Boeckx (ICREA-Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
Howard Lasnik (University of Maryland)