LINGUIST List 14.2325

Wed Sep 3 2003

Calls: Semantics/Helsinki, Finland

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <stevelinguistlist.org>


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  1. ulla.vanhatalo, On the Necessity of Experimental Methods in Semantics

Message 1: On the Necessity of Experimental Methods in Semantics

Date: Wed, 03 Sep 2003 13:13:22 +0000
From: ulla.vanhatalo <ulla.vanhatalohelsinki.fi>
Subject: On the Necessity of Experimental Methods in Semantics


On the Necessity of Experimental Methods in Semantics 
Short Title: Experimental Semantics

Date: 07-Jan-2004 - 09-Jan-2004
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Contact: Ulla Vanhatalo
Contact Email: experimental_methodsling.helsinki.fi 
Meeting URL:
http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/kielitiede/20scl/Experimental_Methods/

Linguistic Sub-field: Semantics 
Call Deadline: 12-Sep-2003

This is a session of the following conference: 20th Scandinavian
Conference of Linguistics

Meeting Description:

Organized by Jarno Raukko (Dept. of English, University of Helsinki)
and Ulla Vanhatalo (Dept. of Finno-Ugrian Studies, University of
Helsinki).

This one-day workshop includes organized debates, short talks, and
discussion.

With ''experimental'' we refer to several kinds of methods that rely
on the (population of) language speaker(s) as an active and creative
source of information in tailored and administered settings, whether
it be using questionnaires, elicitation tests, psycholinguistic
laboratory experiments, or some innovative holistically-minded
informant-centered methods. Although the organizers themselves stress
the necessity of such methods, the workshop invites both proponents
and critics (and sceptics). While doing this, the aim is to tackle
the foundation of semantic studies and further enhance the match
between research questions, tacit assumptions, and methods.

We would like to ask you to submit your short abstract (about half a
page, in English) to us by Friday, September 12, 2003. In this
abstract, we would like at least a statement of your main point, and
whether you might want to give a short presentation or participate in
a debate or discussion. Please remember that we would like to keep the
workshop focused on the ''necessity (or non-necessity) of experimental
methods in semantic studies''.

Please note that workshop participants need to register for the
conference in usual fashion. Registration starts on October 1. The
conference website is
http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/kielitiede/20scl.html

Send your abstracts and possible questions concerning the workshop to:

experimental_methodsling.helsinki.fi
Workshop ''On the Necessity of Experimental Methods in Semantics''
at the 20th Scandinavian Conference of Linguistics,
Helsinki, Finland, January 7-9, 2004

Including organized debates, short talks, and discussion. Organized
by Jarno Raukko (Dept. of English, University of Helsinki) and Ulla
Vanhatalo (Dept. of Finno-Ugrian Studies, University of Helsinki).

Submission deadline: Friday, September 12, 2003. You can send your
proposal to experimental_methodsling.helsinki.fi which takes it to
Raukko's and Vanhatalo's addresses.

There seems to be growing interest in using experimental and
questionnaire-based methods in semantic studies, as witnessed by,
e.g., the program of the 8th Internat'l Cognitive Linguistics
Conference (Spain, July 2003). On the one hand, this follows a
tradition of psycholinguists' expansion on 'higher' levels of
language. On the other, semanticians have been looking for different
alternatives to broaden their scope of discovery procedures and
analytical tools. In the latter vein, the search for informant-based
experimental evidence can also be compared with, e.g., approaches to
computational experiments and corpus applications.

We wish to think of experiments not exclusively belonging to the
domain of psycholinguistics. With 'experimental' we refer to several
kinds of methods that rely on the (population of) language speaker(s)
as an active and creative source of information in tailored and
administered settings. Thus, we would welcome discussion not only on
psycholinguistic laboratory experiments, but also methods such as
questionnaires, elicitation tests, follow-up studies, and interview -
and possibilities for ecological validity, holistic settings, and
increasing informant-centeredness in the methodology.

The need for experimental methods primarily grows out of shortcomings
of other methods to tackle many research questions in the field of
semantics. For instance, delicate differences between near-synonyms
are ultimately out of the reach of even the finest corpora. Or, as
another example, if you are interested in how to divide the senses of
a polysemous word, only informants performing controlled sorting (and
other) tasks can give you insight into people's semantic intuitions,
e.g., on meaning similarity and meaning difference.

More generally, the necessity for informant-centered methods grows out
of the nature of meaning making: as speakers conceptualize the world
through their bodily perception and social interaction, they also end
up being the experts in telling the researcher about the ways of
language. Also, such phenomena as semantic disagreements are well
accounted for in experimental studies.

However, we appreciate differences of opinion not only in people's
semantics, but within the realm of linguists. Instead of only
suggesting to our audience that experiments must be seen as a
necessity, the workshop invites both proponents and critics (and
sceptics). While doing this, the aim is to tackle the foundation of
semantic studies and further enhance the match between research
questions, tacit assumptions, and methods.

This workshop invites researchers to talk about different approaches
to the experimental investigation of meaning, and to the necessity of
this endeavor. This topic hopefully intrigues people from various
disciplines, e.g., semantics, cognitive linguistics, lexicography,
psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, social psychology, variation
studies, anthropological linguistics, field linguistics, folk
linguistics, and language acquisition. Unconventional approaches are
especially welcome.

We welcome contributions no matter whether they are based on completed
work, work in progress, or ideational and programmatic turns.
Possible topics can include (but are not limited to)
- Example experiments (e.g., word meanings; polysemy; synonymy;
lexical fields; discourse meanings) and their necessity to the
research question
- Discussion / comparison of relevant / possible techniques
- Methodological and philosophical views on the matter
- Applications that could exploit experimental semantic models /
results (e.g., pedagogy, lexicography) and thus show their necessity

We would like to ask you to submit your short abstract (about half a
page, in English) by e-mail to us by Friday, September 12, 2003. In
this abstract, we would like at least a statement of your main point,
and a note on whether you might want to give a short presentation or
participate in a debate or discussion. Please remember that we would
like to keep the workshop focused on the ''necessity (or
non-necessity) of experimental methods in semantic studies''.

Please note that workshop participants need to register for the
conference in usual fashion. Registration starts on October 1. We will
inform participants of the program of the workshop by September 30,
and the official conference program will be announced on October 30 on
the conference website at www.ling.helsinki.fi/kielitiede/20scl.html

Send your abstracts and possible questions concerning the workshop to

experimental_methodsling.helsinki.fi

an alias which takes your message to

jarno.raukkohelsinki.fi
ulla.vanhatalohelsinki.fi

*** We apologize for possible multiple copies of this message. ***

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