Information Structure in Spoken Language Corpora (ISSLaC)

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Recent developments in technology have made it possible for linguists to create spoken language corpora on a hitherto unprecedented range of languages, including several lesser-studied languages. For languages without a written tradition, spoken corpora assume an even greater value since they document the only mode of communication. Data obtained from corpora are increasingly used in linguistic research, reflecting a more usage-based orientation on the part of linguists on the one hand, and making analyses verifiable on the other.
Spoken language corpora are promising to be particularly useful to the study of infor-mation structure (IS). IS often involves complex correspondences between communicative goals and marking strategies, encompassing prosody, morphology, and syntactic structure, the full range of which can best be observed in naturally occurring data (Brunetti et al: 2011). However, the investigation of IS in spoken corpora still has many methodological obstacles to overcome, ranging from those related to the prosodic analysis of spontaneous speech to those relating to the very identification of IS categories in such spontaneous data. These challenges explain why much research on IS continues to rely on introspection or on experimental research. These techniques are rarely available to linguists working with lesser- known languages: they are usually not native speakers, making introspection impossible; further, many types of experiments are not applicable in non-literate and/or non-western cultural contexts. Thus analysing spoken corpora is the only means to get insights into the encoding of IS in these languages, and indeed it is only through the study of spontaneous data that it is possible to gather inventories of the full range of IS categories and understand how they are employed in discourse.

The goal of this workshop is to discuss both research findings on information structure based on spoken corpora, and methodological issues arising in such investigations, in a cross-linguistic perspective.

This workshop is part of the project Discourse and prosody across language family boundaries: two corpus-based case studies on contact-induced syntactic and prosodic convergence in the encoding of information structure, funded by DoBeS (Volkswagen-Stiftung Funding Initiative “Documentation of Endangered Languages”).

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Meeting Location:
University of Bielefeld

Contact Information:
Claudia Wegener

Meeting Dates:
The Information Structure in Spoken Language Corpora (ISSLaC) will be held from 10-Jun-2013 to 12-Jun-2013.

Abstract Submission Information:
Abstracts can be submitted from 13-Nov-2012 until 21-Dec-2012.

Information Structure in Spoken Language Corpora (ISSLaC),

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