LINGUIST List 18.2332|
Mon Aug 06 2007
Calls: Anthropological Ling,Neuroling,Cognitive Science/Germany
Editor for this issue: Ania Kubisz
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Human Universals as Constraints on Language Diversity
Message 1: Human Universals as Constraints on Language Diversity
From: Dietmar Zaefferer <zaeffererlmu.de>
Subject: Human Universals as Constraints on Language Diversity
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Full Title: Human Universals as Constraints on Language Diversity
Short Title: DGfS 2008 - AG 2
Date: 27-Feb-2008 - 29-Feb-2008
Location: Bamberg, Germany
Contact Person: Dietmar Zaefferer
Meeting Email: zaeffererlmu.de
Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Cognitive Science;
Neurolinguistics; Philosophy of Language
Call Deadline: 01-Sep-2007
Workshop on the foundations of language comparison: Human universals as
constraints on language diversity (to be held as part of the 30th annual meeting
of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft (DGfS), Bamberg, Germany,
27-29 February 2008)
Last Call for Papers
Dietmar Zaefferer (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich)
David Poeppel (University of Maryland)
Information on the Workshop:
Language comparison presupposes comparability, and this in turn presupposes the
common denominator of definitional universals. The idea of this workshop is to
look both within and beyond the field of linguistics to find out about the
underpinnings of linguistic universals, both of the definitional variety (What
makes the cluster of phenomena defined by the notion of language coherent?) as
well as and especially of the empirical kind (Which non-definitional features
cluster around the definitional properties and why?). To do this it is necessary
to determine the place of linguistic universals among the human universals
(Brown 1991). Since the latter concern both the human body with its brain and
mind, and the cultures and societies it lives in (Enfield and Levinson 2006),
contributions are invited from all relevant fields: biology, neuroscience,
cognitive science, anthropology, sociology, philosophy and last, but not least,
linguistics. Chomsky (2004) is certainly right in assuming that genetic
endowment, experience, and language independent principles of efficient
computation contribute to language development in the individual, but it is
rather controversial (a) what the genetic endowment consists of, (b) how these
factors interact in the individual, and (c) how the individual mind participates
in the shared, i.e. distributed and collective, mind. Handedness is certainly
part of our genetic endowment, and so Krifka's (2006) proposal that it might
motivate the universal availability of topic-comment structuring is an excellent
example of the kind of phenomena this workshop is intended to collect and relate
to one another. Cultural constraints on grammar as discussed by Everett (2005)
are another case in point. Ideally, the workshop will draw together
contributions from different fields to document the state of the knowledge in
this domain and instigate progress towards a more and more complete picture of
the ways human universals shape human language.
Topics include, but are not restricted to:
- Biological underpinnings of the human language faculty
- Somato-biological underpinnings of the sensorimotor system
- Somato-biological underpinnings of the conceptual-intentional system
- Neuro-biological basis of human language production
- Neuro-biological basis of human language comprehension
- Social cognition as prerequisite for language use
- Social cognition and ontological universals
- Universals of deixis and the ecological nature of language use
- Anthropological universals and their lexical reflexes
- Social universals and universals of linguistic interaction
Brown, Donald E. (1991): Human universals. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Chomsky, Noam (2004): Biolinguistics and the Human Capacity. Lecture MTA
Budapest, May 17.
Enfield, N. J. / Stephen C. Levinson (eds.) (2006): Roots of human sociality:
culture, cognition, and interaction. Oxford: Berg.
Everett, Daniel L. (2005): Cultural constraints on grammar and cognition in
Pirahã. In: Current Anthropology 46: 621-46.
Haun, D.B.M., Call, J., Janzen, G., Levinson, S.C. (2006). Evolutionary
psychology of spatial representations in the Hominidae. Current Biology, 16,
Krifka, Manfred (2006): Functional similarities between bimanual coordination
and topic / comment structure. In: Ishihara, S. / Schmitz, M. / Schwarz, A.
(eds.): Interdisciplinary Studies on Information Structure 08, Potsdam.
Levinson, S. 2006. Cognition at the heart of human interaction. Special issue of
Discourse Studies: Discourse, interaction and cognition, 8(1), 85-93.
Sperber, D., and L. Hirschfeld. 2004. The cognitive foundations of cultural
stability and diversity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8(1):40-46
Tomasello, M. (2004). What kind of evidence could refute the UG hypothesis?
Studies in Language, 28, 642-44.
Submission of Abstracts:
Abstracts should be up to one page long (using 2.5cm margins on each side and
12pt font size). The head of the abstract should include the following
information: author's name(s), affiliation, email address, and title of
abstract. Abstracts should be submitted in English only.
Presentations should last 20 minutes (+ 10 minutes for questions and
discussion). Depending on the number and quality of abstracts we receive, there
will be room for a few longer presentations (45 min. + 15 min. quest./disc.).
Make sure to indicate in your message whether you would be interested in
extending your presentation.
Your submission should be sent electronically in Word (RTF) and/or PDF format to
Dietmar Zaefferer (zaeffererlmu.de)
David Poeppel (dpoeppelumd.edu).
Registration Costs and Organisational Hints
Since the workshop is part of the Annual Meeting of the German Society for
Linguistics (http://www.dgfs.de/cgi-bin/dgfs.pl/main), all participants are
required to register for the conference. Registration fees are 20 to 50 EUR
(depending on your member status). Please note that by the guidelines of the
DGfS speakers are not allowed to give a talk in more than one workshop that is
part of the Annual Meeting.
Bamberg is a World Heritage Site, quoting the official link of Bamberg ''an
outstanding cultural and architectural highlight of every tour through Bavaria,
and also the secret capital of beer!'', see:
For hotel booking visit:
Deadline for abstract submission: September 1, 2007
Notification of acceptance: September 15, 2007
Provisional program: December 15, 2007
DGfS conference: February 27-29, 2008
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