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LINGUIST List 20.4315

Tue Dec 15 2009

Calls: Pragmatics, Semantics/Germany

Editor for this issue: Kate Wu <katelinguistlist.org>

LINGUIST is pleased to announce the launch of an exciting new feature: Easy Abstracts! Easy Abs is a free abstract submission and review facility designed to help conference organizers and reviewers accept and process abstracts online. Just go to: http://www.linguistlist.org/confcustom, and begin your conference customization process today! With Easy Abstracts, submission and review will be as easy as 1-2-3!
        1.    Paula Menendez-Benito, Workshop on Epistemic Indefinites

Message 1: Workshop on Epistemic Indefinites
Date: 14-Dec-2009
From: Paula Menendez-Benito <Paula.Menendez-Benitophil.uni-goettingen.de>
Subject: Workshop on Epistemic Indefinites
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Full Title: Workshop on Epistemic Indefinites
Short Title: EI2010

Date: 10-Jun-2010 - 12-Jun-2010
Location: Goettingen, Germany
Contact Person: Paula Menendez-Benito
Meeting Email: epistemicuni-goettingen.de
Web Site: http://www.engl-ling.uni-goettingen.de/epistemic/

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics; Semantics

Call Deadline: 30-Jan-2010

Meeting Description:

Workshop on Epistemic Indefinites, June 10-12, Göttingen, Germany.

The English Department at the University of Göttingen is pleased to invite
abstracts for submissions to a workshop on Epistemic Indefinites to be held in
Göttingen, Germany, from June 10 to June 12, 2010. This workshop is co-organized
by the Lichtenberg-Kolleg (Institute for Advanced Study) at the University of

The goal of the workshop is to provide a forum for the presentation of novel
work on epistemic indefinites.

Call for Paper

Invited Speakers:
Maria Aloni, University of Amsterdam.
Cleo Condoravdi, Palo Alto Research Center.
Tania Ionin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Lisa Matthewson, University of British Columbia.

Meeting Description:
Across languages, we find 'epistemic indefinites', i.e., existential determiners
that can convey information about the speaker's epistemic state. Some epistemic
indefinites signal that the speaker is unable (or unwilling) to identify the
individual that satisfies the existential claim (e.g., Spanish "algún", German
"irgendein", Romanian "vreun", among others.) Others signal that the speaker is
able to identify the individual in question (e.g., a certain). In the last
decade a considerable body of research on epistemic indefinites has emerged
(see, e.g., Abusch and Rooth 1997; Aloni 2007; Aloni and van Rooij 2007;
Alonso-Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito 2003, 2009; Becker 1999; Chierchia 2006;
Condoravdi 2005; Ebert, Ebert and Hinterwimmer 2009; Falaus 2009; Farkas 2002,
2006; Giannakidou 2009; Ionin 2008; Jayez and Tovena 2007; Kratzer and Shimoyama
2002; Zamparelli 2007, among others.) Taken together, these studies raise issues
such as:

- What is the status of the epistemic component? Is it semantic or pragmatic? If
the latter, is it a presupposition, a conventional implicature, a conversational
implicature? Do different indefinites behave differently in this respect?
- Epistemic indefinites seem to vary with respect to the degree of ignorance or
knowledge that they require on the part of the speaker (e.g., total / partial
ignorance). What is the source of this variation?
- Epistemic indefinites also differ with respect to the type of evidence that is
relevant for their interpretation (e.g., direct / indirect evidence.) Are there
evidential constraints on these indefinites? If so, do they parallel well-known
evidential constraints on modals?
- The epistemic component of some epistemic indefinites is always
speaker-oriented. Others can make reference to the epistemic state of some other
agent, for instance, the individual picked out by the subject of an attitude
verb. What determines this variation?
- While some epistemic indefinites convey only an epistemic effect, others can
also interact with non-epistemic modality (e.g., some of them trigger an
indifference reading.) What determines the type of modality that an epistemic
indefinite is sensitive to?
- Epistemic indefinites are not the only noun phrases sensitive to speaker's
knowledge. For instance, English "whatever" (and its counterparts in other
languages) can convey ignorance on the part of the speaker. Is a unified account
of epistemic noun phrases desirable?

The field seems now ripe to start developing an explanatory semantic typology of
epistemic indefinites. The goal of this workshop is to contribute to this
enterprise by providing a forum for discussion of novel work that bears on
issues like the above.

Instructions for abstract submission:

Abstracts are invited for 30 minute talks, followed by 10 minutes of discussion.
Abstracts must be anonymous, in pdf format, and they are not to exceed two pages
in 12 point font, and with margins of 1 inch/2.5 cm on all sides.

The link for abstract submission is

Important Dates:
Submission deadline: January 30, 2010
Notification of acceptance: March 20, 2010
Conference date: June 10-12, 2010

Contact Information:
Conference website: http://www.engl-ling.uni-goettingen.de/epistemic/
Email contact: epistemicuni-goettingen.de
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