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LINGUIST List 18.3063

Fri Oct 19 2007

Calls: General,Historical Ling/UK; Pragmatics/France

Editor for this issue: Ania Kubisz <anialinguistlist.org>

As a matter of policy, LINGUIST discourages the use of abbreviations or acronyms in conference announcements unless they are explained in the text. To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at http://linguistlist.org/LL/posttolinguist.html.
        1.    Gunther De Vogelaer, Dialects as a Testing Ground for Theories of Change
        2.    Helene Wlodarczyk, Discourse Coherence - Text and Theory

Message 1: Dialects as a Testing Ground for Theories of Change
Date: 18-Oct-2007
From: Gunther De Vogelaer <gunther.devogelaerugent.be>
Subject: Dialects as a Testing Ground for Theories of Change
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Full Title: Dialects as a Testing Ground for Theories of Change

Date: 04-Aug-2008 - 08-Aug-2008
Location: Leeds, United Kingdom
Contact Person: Gunther De Vogelaer
Meeting Email: gunther.devogelaerugent.be
Web Site: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/english/methods.htm

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Linguistic

Call Deadline: 01-Dec-2007

Meeting Description

Call for a session at 'Methods in Dialectology' XIII

Much theorizing in language change research is made without taking into account
dialect data. However, we believe that the study of dialect variation has the
potential to play a central role in the process of finding answers to the
fundamental questions of theoretical historical linguistics. Unlike most
cross-linguistic and diachronic data, dialect data are unusually high in
resolution, and they seem to be superior data to build a theory of linguistic
change on. In the present one-day workshop, to be held at the 'Methods in
Dialectology'-conference, we invite contributions which relate a clearly
formulated theoretical question of historical linguistic interest with a
well-defined, solid empirical base. We welcome papers dealing with all domains
of grammar (phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics), and we intend to cover a
wide variety of languages. In particular, we encourage papers adopting a dialect
geographical approach.

Call for Papers

In recent years, historical linguists have highlighted the importance of
grammatical variation and variant spread for our understanding of the
fundamental mechanisms of linguistic change. Many approaches distinguish between
the emergence of novel variants vs. the selection of variants in the course of
speakers' use (cf., e.g., Weinreich, Labov & Herzog's 1968 distinction between
the 'actuation' and 'transition problem'). This is most obvious in evolutionary
inspired approaches. But the perhaps most central ingredient of a model for
linguistic change is still relatively little understood, and therefore
controversial: Which factors are responsible for variant selection and spread?
For instance, Croft (2000) assumes language-internal factors to be relevant only
for the emergence of novel variants, but variant selection is claimed to be
guided exclusively by social, extra-linguistic factors. Others (Haspelmath 1999,
Seiler 2005, De Vogelaer 2006) have claimed that language-internal factors play
a role in variant selection, too.

It is our opinion that the study of dialect variation has the potential to play
a central role in the process of finding answers to such fundamental questions
(see Kortmann 2002, Horvath 2004, and Filppula et al. 2005:vii for similar
observations). There are several reasons for this: First, dialects are
relatively free of standardization and therefore more tolerant against variant
competition in grammar. Second, variants gradually spread not only on the
temporal, but also on the spatial dimension. By a careful study of subtle
dialect differences in space we therefore might expect to uncover the minimal
differences of implementational steps that have taken place in the course of
linguistic history. Furthermore, we think it is the right time for
dialectologists to engage in debates on variation and change since there are
several large research projects on dialect variation being conducted in a number
of European countries (cf. the recently launched website
http://www.dialectsyntax.org/). The following provides a (non-exhaustive) list
of suggested research questions:
- Which is the contribution of current linguistic theory for the explanation of
spatial variation and variant spread?
- Which is the contribution of dialect data for the further development of
theories of linguistic change?
- What are the driving forces of variant selection? Are these factors social or
- Is variation the result or the cause of change, or both?

Many of these questions will undoubtedly benefit from a dialect geographical
approach. Additional questions that emerge when taking a dialect geographical
approach have to do with the existence of transitional zones, where competing
variants co-occur. This poses a potential problem for many models of grammar:
what does the existence of transitional zones mean for our modeling of
linguistic competence, i.e., can the linguistic competence of individuals living
in transitional zones best be described in terms of competing grammars, the
interaction of categorical rules or constraints, or do we need a probabilistic
model? Other relevant questions include the following:
- Do geolinguistic data provide evidence for and/or against particular models of
- What can we conclude from the mechanisms of variant spread with regard to our
understanding of linguistic competence?
- Can we find a speaker-based explanation for the fact that some variants spread
at the expense of others?

Gunther De Vogelaer (FWO Flanders / Ghent), Guido Seiler (Konstanz / Zurich).

Keynote Speaker
William Labov (University of Pennsylvania)

Practical Information
The workshop is part of the Methods in Dialectology-conference. More information
concerning travelling, lodging etc. can be found on the Methods XIII-homepage:

Since it is our intention to publish a volume with papers from the section, we
will prefer unpublished research over papers presenting data that have been
published elsewhere.

Presentations are allotted 20 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion. Abstracts
should be as specific as possible, with a statement of topic, approach and
conclusions, and may be at most 400 words (not including data and references,
which may be placed on an optional second page). Please submit your abstract
anonymously as an email attachment (only Microsoft Word or PDF formats) to
Gunther De Vogelaer (gunther.devogelaerugent.be) or Guido Seiler
(gseilerds.unizh.ch). The body text of the email message must contain the
following information:
(1) paper title
(2) name(s) of author(s)
(3) affiliation(s) of author(s)
(4) address where notification of acceptance should be sent
(5) phone number for each author
(6) email address for each author
(7) subfield (syntax, phonology, etc.)

Important Dates
The submission deadline is December 1st, 2007. Notification of acceptance will
be sent by January 20th, 2008.
Message 2: Discourse Coherence - Text and Theory
Date: 18-Oct-2007
From: Helene Wlodarczyk <helene.wlodarczykparis-sorbonne.fr>
Subject: Discourse Coherence - Text and Theory
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Full Title: Discourse Coherence - Text and Theory

Date: 18-Sep-2008 - 20-Sep-2008
Location: Paris, France
Contact Person: Helene Vinckel
Meeting Email: celtaparis-sorbonne.fr
Web Site: http://www.celta.paris-sorbonne.fr/

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Call Deadline: 30-Dec-2007

Meeting Description

An International Conference on Discourse Coherence - Text and Theory will be
held at CELTA (Centre for Theoretical and Applied Linguistics) of Paris-Sorbonne
University on September 18-20, 2008. Discourse coherence is one of the main
topics of CELTA where research is being carried out about various languages and
is based on the interaction between theoretical and textual linguistics.

As far as theoretical reference is concerned, CELTA already published two
volumes of collected papers, see namely the Meta-Informative Centering Theory
(MIC) which is outlined there. As a matter of fact, it is essential to rely on a
common theoretical basis in order to contrast different languages. We wish to
insist on the point that, in the MIC theory, not only the topic-comment
structure but also the subject-predicate structure itself is meta-informative by
This leads to a revision of the relationship between syntax and pragmatics, by
putting what linguists call 'information structure' at the center of the
language system. As a surprising consequence, research at CELTA revealed that
Slavonic languages with their assumed ''free'' order and German whose syntax is
considered ''rigid'' share more in common than syntactic descriptions allowed to
presume. The MIC theory makes it also possible to take into account syntactic
phenomena that are considered to belong exclusively to spoken language but that
text typology reveals to be in fact characteristic of many different styles. On
the other hand, as a feedback, the confrontation of different languages should
help testing the theory and making it more general.

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