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LINGUIST List 18.1849

Tue Jun 19 2007

Confs: General Ling/Germany

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Taylor <jeremylinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Stefan Hinterwimmer, Topicality

Message 1: Topicality
Date: 19-Jun-2007
From: Stefan Hinterwimmer <stefan.hinterwimmerrz.hu-berlin.de>
Subject: Topicality


Date: 27-Feb-2008 - 29-Feb-2008
Location: Bamberg, Germany
Contact: Stefan Hinterwimmer
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Meeting Description:

Topicality, Workshop at the 30th annual meeting of the Deutsche
Gesellschaft fuer Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS), Bamberg, 27-29 February 2008.

Organized by Cornelia Endriss (Universitaet Osnabrueck, Institut fuer
Kognitionswissenschaft), Stefan Hinterwimmer (Humboldt Universitaet Berlin,
Institut fuer deutsche Sprache und Linguistik) and Sophie Repp (Humboldt
Universitaet Berlin, Institut fuer deutsche Sprache und Linguistik).

This workshop investigates interpretative and formal aspects of topicality
in individual languages as well as cross-linguistically. Its goal is both a
more precise and a more comprehensive understanding of the notion of

According to the probably most current view, topics are what a sentence is
about (= aboutness). However, the notion of topic is many-facetted and
topics have been suggested to have other interpretative functions as well.
For instance, they are thought to serve as discourse addresses.
Furthermore, they often have been associated with discourse givenness but
since indefinites in many languages can also occur in topic positions this
latter view must be questioned. In addition to the aspects just mentioned
there are interpretative functions which have been associated with
topicality that are not directly topical in the sense of aboutness such as
frame setting or the structuring of contrastive discourses. On top of that,
it has been argued that topicality can have truth-conditional effects, e.g.
in the interpretation of indefinites and quantificational adverbs.

Topics are marked with different means in different languages:
syntactically, prosodically, with morphological markers. Topic markers and
topic marking constructions have also been observed to serve uses other
than topic marking. The Japanese marker wa, for instance, or the Korean
marker nun can also mark contrastiveness. Left dislocation in German shares
this characteristic. Furthermore, in many languages - e.g. Tagalog,
Vietnamese, Turkish - a topic marker is used to mark the antecedent of
conditionals, which suggests that this antecedent might be topical.
Finally, topic markers cannot only occur in matrix clauses but also in
embedded clauses. Since this is unexpected from the point of view of
discourse organisation the precise interpretation of such ''topic-marked''
structures calls for closer inspection.

Building on these observations, the workshop aims at exploring the various
ingredients in the interpretation of topicality. Part of this is an
investigation of the means of topic marking and the relation between
topicality and other functions of topic markers, which cannot be
interpreted as (directly) topical, such as the mentioned contrastiveness.

E-mail address: topicality_lists.hu-berlin.de (replace the underscore by
the usual sign).

Submission deadline: August 15, 2007
Notification: September 15, 2007

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