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Conference Information

Full Title: Beyond Information Structure

Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Start Date: 10-Sep-2017 - 13-Sep-2017
Contact: Pavel Ozerov
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Organisers:

Dejan Matić
Pavel Ozerov

In the last years, growing cross-linguistic evidence suggests a shift in the study of Information Structure (IS), along the theoretical lines that recently re-shaped the field of linguistic typology. Traditionally, approaches to IS define a set of pragmatic-semantic categories, and study how these are expressed cross-linguistically. Yet, a growing number of empirical studies attempting to analyse presumable IS-marking devices discover instead their different primitive functions, which have no direct relationship to IS. In addition to giving a better account of the basic function and distribution of these devices, this research sheds light on the actual origin of “information structural” phenomena. It shows how diverse primitive functions can interact with the context, rendering interpretations related to such concepts as aboutness, contrast etc., used to characterise IS notions.

Matić and Wedgwood's (2013) argumentation for this shift demonstrates a number of case studies of such re-analysis of presumable IS markers. For instance, the Quechua particle mi had previously been analysed as a marker of narrow focus (Sanchez 2010). However, although this characterisation is applicable within the limited set of IS tests, it fails to address the full span of functions of the particle. Its analysis along the lines of evidentiality (Faller 2002) or as an “interactional device [of] persuasive intention” (Behrens 2012) allows both to give a unified account for its functions, and trace the actual source of the occasional “focal” effect.

It is repeatedly found that IS accounts of presumable IS devices are insufficient. IS analysis alone does not explain the full function of apparently relevant markers. Moreover, it does not predict the idiosyncratic list of precise IS features, pertinent to each marker. Coherent full-scale analyses show that primitive functions of these markers lie beyond IS, while IS-interpretations turn out to be particular usages of their primitive functions.

If so, cross-linguistic study of relevant language-specific categories promises to shed light on the way IS-interpretations appear as a result of the interaction of a basic function of diverse devices with the context. It will describe and explain how interactional categories, stance, inter-subjective alignment, particular discourse structuring and lexical devices produce dynamic structuring of information in the course of communication. Moreover, this research strongly appeals to the identification and analysis of currently poorly understood categories from the field of interaction.
Linguistic Subfield: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Semantics; Text/Corpus Linguistics; Typology
LL Issue: 27.4564

This is a session of the following meeting:
50th Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea

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