02 October 2011

LARC/Acquisition Lab meeting on Monday

LARC/Acquisition Lab will meet on Monday, October 3, in the Partee Room (South College 301) at 5:15. Tracy Conner will present:

The Acquisition of Possessive Marking in African American English: Testing
for Obligatory Genitive 's with N' Ellipsis*

All are welcome!

Generative Linguists of the Old World: Call for papers

The 35th annual GLOW conference will take place March 28-30, 2012 in Potsdam, Germany. The topic of the colloquium is "Context in grammar: a frequent visitor or a regular inhabitant?". Abstracts are invited for 45 minute talks with an additional 15 minutes for discussion, as well as for two poster sessions. The submission deadline is Tuesday, November 15.

In addition to the colloquium, there will also be four thematic workshops happening on Tuesday, March 27 and Saturday, March 31 that are described in separate postings of WHISC.

The abstract deadline is November 15, 23:59 CET. All abstracts (including abstracts for the workshops) must be submitted through EasyChair. Notifications of acceptance/rejection will be sent out on January 20.

For more information, go to: GLOW 35 @ Potsdam

GLOW Workshop on Empty Categories

Empty categories in syntax: are there any?

Organizers: Gisbert Fanselow and Gereon Müller

Keynote speaker: to be announced. 

Abstract deadline: November 15. 

Description: Obviously, there are morphemes that are devoid of semantic content, so that the postulation of morphemes (or words and phrases) that lack a phonological interpretation can be considered a natural move. Indeed, most grammatical models employ elements that are unpronounced. They may already exist in the lexicon, or be created by grammatical processes such as deletion in syntactic movement chains or in contexts of ellipsis. Grammatical models must be explicit about the licensing condition for such unpronounced material.

There is a more restrictive concept of empty elements: he introduction of empty categories into syntactic representations in the Government-and-Binding framework was once considered a major milestone in the development of grammatical theory. Empty categories in this sense are not just syntactic elements that lack a phonological matrix, rather, they have special properties (as compared to pronounced material) that are subject to specific conditions such as the Empty Category Principle of Chomsky (1981). Their postulation promised, e.g., an elegant approach to the locality of movement or crossover phenomena, identifying connections between seemingly unrelated areas such as A-movement, the binding of reflexives, and scopal properties of quantifiers. Extrasyntactic motivation was argued to exist in the form of morphophonological evidence (recall the discussion of wanna contraction) or psycholinguistic results (e.g., the issue of the reactivation of an antecedent at the site of the trace, Nicol 1993). The postulation of empty categories and the modelling of their syntactic properties figured prominently in argumentations for the idea that UG constitutes an abstract formal competence unrelated to other cognitive capacities in a principled way. The discovery of such invisible (inaudible) elements seemed to put linguistics on par with disciplines such as the physics of elementary particles. The inventory of empty categories was quite differentiated: the traces of A- and A-bar movement, head movement traces, PRO, pro, empty expletives, empty operators. 

Thirty years later, empty categories in this narrow sense have lost most of their importance in syntactic theory. The shift from a representational to a derivational approach in syntax eliminated the need for a device for encoding transformational history such as traces, and attempts to formulate a satisfactory model for properties specific to empty categories have failed (cf., e.g., Hornstein 1995 for the ECP), which is not surprising on the background of a minimalist approach to grammar. 

The purpose of our workshop is an evaluation of empty categories, both in the narrow and the broad sense, as part of the syntactic toolbox, answering questions such as

  • What are the substantial differences between approaches working with and without empty categories? To what extent are these differences merely due to overall changes in the grammatical architecture (e.g., derivation vs. representation?)
  • how can the phenomena previously captured by models of empty categories (such as common locality aspects for different sorts of descriptive phenomena) explained without them?
  • can empty categories be eliminated completely from grammatical theories? What consequences does this have for the abstractness of linguistic representations?

We invite abstracts for 45 + 15 minutes talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair. Please consult the abstract guidelines before submitting.

GLOW Workshop on Prosody

Production and perception of prosodically-encoded information structure

Organizers: Frank Kügler and Sabine Zerbian

Keynote speaker: to be announced. 

Deadline: November 15. 

Description: In many (though not in all) languages, information-structural context, e.g. focus, influences the prosodic form of an utterance. Information structure may be prosodically encoded by different acoustic parameters, such as the commonly found increase in intensity, duration and fundamental frequency for focus, but also by differences in pitch register scaling of tones or phrasing. The prosodic encoding of information structure may be based on universal aspects of pitch (Gussenhoven 2004) or driven by communication-oriented processes as a deviation from a neutral register/voice (Kügler 2011). Many studies have investigated the prosodic encoding of information structure in a variety of languages, as e.g. presented at last year's GLOW workshop on the phonological marking of focus and topic. 

The workshop wants to continue this research by turning to the perceptual relevance of the prosodic encoding of information structure. It is therefore interested in the combination of production and perception studies. It aims at dealing with the questions whether listeners perceive prosodic differences related to information structure and how they decode this information at the interface of phonetics, phonology and semantics/pragmatics. E.g. studies by Wu and Xu (2010) have shown that listeners can reliably point out the "prominent" element in a sentence in a language that marks focus prosodically. Swerts et al. (2002) have shown that Dutch listeners are able to reconstruct previous discourse on the basis of prosodic information. Common experimental tasks used to elicit perception and interpretation data include prominence ratings, context matching, and appropriate judgments. 

Particular emphasis will be on work that addresses these issues in lesser studied languages and varieties (including contact varieties and learner varieties) in order to gain insight into the existing variation concerning not only production but also perception of prosodically-encoded information structure and therefore reach at a better understanding of the phenomenon as such. 

Core issues are:

  • Which prosodic cues to information structure do we find in the languages of the world? Are certain cues more prevalent in one type of language than in another?
  • Are prosodic cues to information structure found in production studies perceived and parsed to such an extent that they influence the interpretation of the meaning of a sentence?
  • Are gradual changes in prosodic cues to information structure perceived categorically?
  • If information structure is encoded by means of different prosodic cues such as F0, duration, intensity or phrasing, do listeners make use of all the cues, or which cues are most important in the perception and interpretation of information structure?
  • If in speech production evidence for speaker-specific strategies to prosodically mark information structure is found, how do listeners deal with speaker variation?
  • Does information structure have a direct or indirect effect on the phonetic realization of the intonation contour and/or phrasing? Are there further case studies that provide evidence for a communication-oriented approach in the phonetic encoding of information structure?
  • What are important methodological issues in the study of perception and interpretation of prosodically-encoded information structure?

We invite abstracts for 30 + 15 minute talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair. Please consult the abstract guidelines before submitting.

GLOW Workshop on Real Time Processing

The timing of grammar: experimental and theoretical considerations

Organizers: Harald Clahsen and Claudia Felser. 

Keynote speaker: Patrick Sturt (University of Edinburgh). 

Deadline: November 15. 

Description: This workshop examines the real-time application of grammatical constraints during language processing, and how these interact with other types of constraints such as selectional restrictions, discourse-pragmatic biases, or cognitive resource limitations. Our focus will be on constraints which help determine the interpretation of overt or covert anaphoric elements. 

Theoretical linguists have identified a set of grammatical principles or constraints --such as the principles of binding theory, or island constraints-- which are thought to restrict the search for an antecedent for pronouns, or for silent copies of moved constituents. These constraints are known to interact with other types of constraints during language comprehension and production, however, and have also been shown to be violable. The apparent violability of grammatical constraints is often attributed (by linguists) to ''processing factors'' without necessarily being explicit about what exactly these may be. Using timecourse-sensitive experimental methods allows us to gain a better understanding of how grammatical and non-grammatical constraints interact during moment-by-moment language processing, and to examine at what point during processing grammatical constraints are applied, or potentially overridden by other types of constraints. 

The workshop will provide a forum for discussing the timing of grammatical constraints from both experimental and theoretical perspectives. Abstracts are invited which may examine any type of anaphoric (or cataphoric) dependency, including movement dependencies. We also welcome contributions that investigate the timecourse of language processing in children, nonnative speakers, or language-impaired populations. 

We invite abstracts for 45 + 15 minute talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair. Please consult the abstract guidelines before submitting.

GLOW Workshop on Focus

GLOW-Workshop "Association with focus", Potsdam, March 31, 2012

Keynote speaker: David Beaver

Important dates:
Workshop date: March 31, 2012 (Please note the change of date!)
Date of the GLOW colloquium: March 28-30, 2012
Deadline: November 15


Research on focus has always been linked to research on focus-sensitive elements. One central area of research is concerned with the nature of this sensitivity. Is it semantic, and therefore encoded into the lexical meaning of these elements (Rooth 1985, Jacobs 1983)? Or is it pragmatic (Rooth 1992, 1996, von Fintel 1994)? Or are there different kinds of focus-sensitivity, as proposed in Beaver and Clark (2008)? In the case of pragmatic association with focus, must the particles rely on focus, or can they also associate with alternatives provided by other elements such as e.g. contrastive topics (Krifka 1999)? What role does accenting on the focus-sensitive elements themselves play in interpretation?

The second area of research concerns the meaning contribution of focus-sensitive elements. What meanings, across languages, do focus-sensitive elements contribute? In most cases, the contributed meaning components are non-truth-conditional. What is the nature of these meaning components? If e.g. the prejacent of only and the additive component of also are both presupposed (as suggested e.g. in König 1991), why do the presuppositions said to be triggered by also/even differ from those said to be triggered by only: uttering a sentence with also is not permissible unless its presupposition is already in the Common Ground (the presupposition cannot be accommodated), whereas the presupposition of only is easily, and most often, accommodated; see. e.g. the classification of projective meanings by Tonhauser et al. 2011)? A third area of research concerns the function of these particles in discourse. It has been suggested that the function of some focus-sensitive particles lies in discourse structuring, e.g. by marking an utterance as unexpected, unlikely, or surprising (e.g. Karttunen and Peters 1979 for even, Zeevat 2009 and Beaver and Clark 2008 for only). But whose surprise is marked by these particles? That of the hearer, or that of the speaker? And what does this mean for a more fine-grained model of the Common Ground that keeps track of speaker/hearer commitments?

Questions to be discussed include, but are not limited to, the following:

* What is the inventory of focus-sensitive elements in different languages? In what sense do they function as discourse particles (Thurmair 1989)?
* What is the nature of their association with alternatives? Is there evidence for different classes, as suggested by Beaver and Clark (2008), or evidence for a unified account? Are there cross-linguistic similarities with respect to the class that corresponding elements belong to?
* Do such expressions associate exclusively with focus, or rather with alternatives in general (including alternatives generated by contrastive topics, Krifka 1999)?
* What is the nature of their meaning components? What can we learn about presuppositions / conventional / conversational implicatures by looking at association with focus?
* For those focus-sensitive elements that are said to have a scalar meaning component, what is the nature of these scales?
* What is the discourse function of focus-sensitive elements, and what can we learn from them for a model of the Common Ground?

We invite abstracts for 30 + 10 minutes talks. Abstracts are to be submitted via EasyChair (https://www.easychair.org/account/signin.cgi?conf=glow35). Please consult the abstract guidelines (http://www.ling.uni-potsdam.de/~glow/submit.html) before submitting.

For more information, please visit http://www.ling.uni-potsdam.de/~glow/