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Conference Information

Full Title: Methodological Issues in the Study of Information Structure

Short Title: GWIS 2
Location: Graz, Austria
Start Date: 24-May-2013 - 25-May-2013
Contact: Dina El Zarka
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: This workshop is the second one of a series of workshops on information structure at the University of Graz.

In recent years an important body of research has been done in the field of information structure (IS), both within formal and functional frameworks. The study of IS covers a wide range of subfields and categories (focus-background, topic-comment, information status, etc.) and is characterized by a variety of different research methods. The main aim of the workshop will be to discuss the virtues and drawbacks of the different methodological approaches to the study of IS.

There is reason to believe that the adequacy of a research method strongly depends on the IS phenomenon investigated. On the one hand, it is notoriously difficult to control for certain aspects of IS in spontaneous language data, specifically topic and focus related phenomena, which is why the majority of studies in that area have resorted to experimental data or introspection. On the other hand, it is relatively easy to annotate information status in corpora of spoken and written language. One goal of the workshop will be to discuss the different methods in relation to the category of information structure investigated.

A second focus will be the problems and virtues of the research methods themselves. It is, for example, a well-known fact, that word order phenomena in many languages are not only influenced by informational criteria, but also by other potentially relevant factors, such as the lexical and the phonological weight of the constituents. A clear advantage of experimental methods is the possibility of controlling for all of these factors. At the same time, experiments always bear the risk of producing unnatural language, and actually occurring linguistic structures may easily be overlooked.

A third topic is related to the fact that IS interacts with different linguistic levels, viz. (morpho-)syntax, prosody and semantics. It can be hypothesized that methodological considerations are also related to the type of linguistic phenomenon investigated. Thus, the investigation of syntactic correlates of IS, for instance, may require a different method than the study of its prosodic correlates.

Invited Speakers:

Aria Adli (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin)
Dejan Matic (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen)
Stavros Skopeteas (Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld)


Dina El Zarka, Dept. of Linguistics (Graz)
Steffen Heidinger, Dept. of Romance Studies (Graz)
Linguistic Subfield: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Semantics
LL Issue: 23.4787

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