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LINGUIST List 21.1544

Tue Mar 30 2010

Calls: Ling Theories, Semantics, Typology/Finland

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


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        1.    Maarit Niemela, Re-Thinking Synonymy: Semantic Sameness and Similarity in Languages and their Description

Message 1: Re-Thinking Synonymy: Semantic Sameness and Similarity in Languages and their Description
Date: 29-Mar-2010
From: Maarit Niemela <maarit.h.niemelaoulu.fi>
Subject: Re-Thinking Synonymy: Semantic Sameness and Similarity in Languages and their Description
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Full Title: Re-Thinking Synonymy: Semantic Sameness and Similarity in
Languages and their Description

Date: 28-Oct-2010 - 30-Oct-2010
Location: Helsinki, Finland
Contact Person: Seppo Kittilä
Meeting Email: synonymy-2010helsinki.fi
Web Site: http://www.linguistics.fi/synonymy/

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories; Semantics; Typology

Call Deadline: 16-Apr-2010

Meeting Description:

The Linguistic Association of Finland (SKY ry.) in co-operation with the
Department of General Linguistics at the University of Helsinki organize a
Conference on 'Re-thinking Synonymy', on October 28-30, 2010, at the
premises of the University of Helsinki.

Confirmed invited speakers:
Dirk Geeraerts (University of Leuven)
Martin Haspelmath (MPI, Leipzig)
Beth Levin (Stanford University)

For more information, see:
http://www.linguistics.fi/synonymy/

Final Call for Papers

Re-Thinking Synonymy: Semantic Sameness and Similarity in Languages
and their Description

SKY (The Linguistic Association of Finland) organizes a symposium 'Re-
thinking synonymy: semantic sameness and similarity in languages and their
description' in Helsinki, October 28-30, 2010. The official website of the
symposium, with the Call for Papers and other information (to be
added/updated later), is found at: http://www.linguistics.fi/synonymy

Traditionally, synonymy refers to a situation where a language has two (or
more) linguistic forms for expressing one meaning. Synonymy is by no
means uncommon in languages, exemplified also by the large number of
synonym dictionaries and thesauri. However, it is important to note that the
existence or lack of synonymy is largely a matter of definition. On one hand,
if we define synonymy as (very close) semantic similarity or (essentially)
identical reference, it definitely exists to some extent in all languages. On
the other hand, if we confine the notion to absolute synonymy (comprising
not only reference, but also, for example, stylistic and sociolinguistic factors
as well as contextual preferences), it becomes less clear whether synonymy
really exists.

Many theories of grammar (such as Cognitive Grammar and some versions
of Construction Grammar) do not acknowledge the concept of synonymy at
all. Synonymy seems to militate against the expected relation of meaning
and form: a difference in form should always and necessarily correspond to
a difference in meaning. However, within these theories (and within
linguistics in general), a recurring topic of study is lexical, constructional,
functional and formal similarity. In addition, current research seems to steer
clear of synonymy (and sameness), but at the same time puts a great deal
of emphasis on similarities, e.g. when and why two or more constructions
with seemingly similar meanings are used as each other's alternatives. But
where does the boundary lie between the two, i.e. when do we cross over
from synonymy to mere similarity, or vice versa, and, moreover, how
different can two constructions or expressions be and yet still be considered
similar in terms of their meaning/ function? Do all synonymous expressions
share a common conceptual(abstract) schema, and are the formal
differences merely 'coincidental'? What is the relation between these
schemas and lexical (i.e. 'traditional') synonymy?

The idea of the symposium is to challenge linguists both to re-think the
synonymy and sameness of linguistic expressions and to approach the
concept of synonymy from a broader perspective. What we propose is that
synonymy is best seen as sameness or similarity of forms and functions -
whether words, constructions or syntactic structures - not only as a notion
related to lexical semantics. For example, many languages, such as Finnish
and Estonian, allow the expression of location through both cases and
adpositions, and many languages have both intransitive and transitive
reflexive forms; these expressions may be identical in meaning in certain
contexts, but upon closer examination they also display differences.

In brief: Does a difference in form always correspond to a difference in
meaning/function? If so, is there any justification for the validity of the notion
of synonymy in linguistic description? If synonymy really exists on some
level, do we need to broaden the concept of synonymy and if so, how?
What does the way that synonymy has been studied tell us about language
and, perhaps as interestingly, about linguistics?

We welcome contributions dealing with synonymy from various perspectives
and backgrounds (including theoretical, empirical and experimental
approaches), ranging from studies of lexical, functional and formal
synonymy to studies of synonymy within and across languages. Possible
topics for talks include (but are by no means not restricted to) the following:

- The role of synonymy in linguistic theory
- Corpus-based studies of (lexical/functional) synonymy
- Psycholinguistic studies of synonymy/processing of synonymy
- Seemingly synonymous/similar categories across languages (e.g. dative,
reflexive, person, tense, deixis etc.), comparability of functions across
languages
- The role of synonymy in lexical typology: do 'identical' lexemes in different
languages express identical/similar meanings?
- Translatability of lexemes
- The development of synonymy; competition of synonymous forms in
grammaticalization/lexicalization
- Synonymy in different theories of grammar
- The relation between lexical ('traditional') synonymy and functional
synonymy
- Potential differences between sameness and similarity; is the distinction
meaningful or necessary?
- What does synonymy (at any level/in any form) reveal about language?
- What motivates the use of seemingly synonymous forms? Context,
meaning, sociolinguistic factors, disambiguation, verbal semantics etc.
- The synonymy of syntactic structural variants (e.g. differences in
comparative constructions)
- Synonymy of constructions within and across languages
- Semantic vs. pragmatic synonymy

The deadline for submission of abstracts (in English; max 500 words
excluding data, tables and references) is April 16, 2010. Please submit your
abstract by e-mail to the address of the organizing committee (synonymy-
2010helsinki.fi). Send your abstract as attachment to an e-mail message
(in both .pdf and .doc formats). Please indicate clearly whether your
abstract is intended as a poster or a section paper. The abstracts will be
evaluated by the organizing committee and by the members of the scientific
committee (see below). Participants will be notified about acceptance by
May 15, 2010.
The book of abstracts will be published on the web pages of the symposium
at: http://www.linguistics.fi/synonymy/abstracts.shtml

Body of the message should include the following information (preferably in
this order):

Name of the participant
Title of presentation
Affiliation
E-mail address
Is the paper meant as a section paper or, a poster, or a workshop

Workshops:
The deadline for submitting workshop proposals was March 15.

Activities:
- Presentations by invited speakers
- Presentation by other participants
- Posters
- Workshops

Confirmed invited speakers:
Dirk Geeraerts (University of Leuven)
Martin Haspelmath (MPI, Leipzig)
Beth Levin (Stanford University)

Scientific committee:
Antti Arppe (University of Helsinki)
Peter Austin (SOAS, London)
Denis Creissels (University of Lyon)
Dagmar Divjak (University of Sheffield)
Adele Goldberg (Princeton University)
Stefan Gries (UCSB)
Tuomas Huumo (University of Tartu)
Laura Janda (University of Tromsø)
Jarmo Jantunen (University of Oulu)
Silvia Luraghi (University of Pavia)
Sally Rice (University of Alberta)
Anna Siewierska (University of Lancaster) Bernhard Wälchli (University of
Berne)

Organizing committee:
Antti Arppe (University of Helsinki)
Seppo Kittilä (University of Helsinki)
Aki Kyröläinen (University of Turku)
Maarit Niemelä (University of Oulu)
Alexandre Nikolaev (University of Joensuu) Jouni Rostila (University of
Tampere) Turo Vartiainen (University of Helsinki) Laura Visapää (University
of Helsinki)

Conference venue:
University of Helsinki

Contact:
Please send all queries to synonymy-2010helsinki.fi
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