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LINGUIST List 21.4728

Wed Nov 24 2010

Calls: Historical Linguistics, Linguistic Theories/Japan

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>

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        1.     Evie Coussé , Usage-Based Approaches to Language Change

Message 1: Usage-Based Approaches to Language Change
Date: 23-Nov-2010
From: Evie Coussé <evie.cousseugent.be>
Subject: Usage-Based Approaches to Language Change
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Full Title: Usage-Based Approaches to Language Change

Date: 25-Jul-2011 - 30-Jul-2011
Location: Osaka, Japan
Contact Person: Evie Coussé
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site: http://www.ichl2011.com/

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Linguistic Theories

Call Deadline: 15-Jan-2011

Meeting Description:

Most approaches to language (change) have principally in common that they locate the main explanandum of language in the human mind and that they operate with categories. Change is, implicitly or explicitly, seen as a shift of a linguistic form from one category to another - whether across discrete or fuzzy boundaries. A well-know example of this view is the importance of reanalysis in explaining language change in mainstream historical linguistics. Reanalysis is considered to be the underlying mechanism that motivates changing patterns in usage such as contextual extension and increasing generalization / abstraction in meaning.

However, alternative views have also been expressed, in which linguistic structure is seen as subject to constant negotiation in communication. Hopper's (1998) Emergent Grammar or Keller's (1994) Invisible Hand are prominent examples. Without denying the share that cognition has in the production of utterances and the usefulness of categories for linguistic description, structure is seen as epiphenomenal in these approaches. Structure is in a constant flux across time, area and social strata and, therefore, language use or actual communication are the loci of structure formation and hence of change.

In line with this usage-based perspective of language and language change, an alternative for reanalysis has been proposed in which (changing) discourse patterns are directly related to meaning without referring to changes in abstract structures (e.g. Bybee e.a 1994, Haspelmath 1998, De Smet 2009). However, a larger coherent vision of the relation between language usage and language change is still largely missing.

The workshop aims at discussing possibilities for such a usage-based framework on language change. We wish to combine case studies with theoretical contributions that help setting up a comprehensive model on language change, in which language use is in the focus and in which the core properties of language are seen in its dynamics rather than in its states.


Bybee, J., R. Perkins & W. Pagliuca (1994) The evolution of grammar. Tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

De Smet, H. (2009) Analysing reanalysis. In: Lingua 119, 1728-1755.

Haspelmath, M. (1998) Does grammaticalization need reanalysis? In: Studies in Language 22, 315-351.

Hopper, P.J. (1998) Emergent grammar. In: M. Tomasello (ed.) The new psychology of grammar: cognitive and functional approaches to language structure. Mahwah: Erlbaum: 155 176.

Keller, R. (1994) On language change. The invisible hand in language. London: Routlegde.

Call for Papers:

As the workshop 'Usage-based Approaches to Language Change' has been approved and accepted by the conference organizers of ICHL 2011, a call for papers is launched for interested speakers.

Abstracts of no more than 300 words, including literature references, should be submitted through the conference website (http://www.ichl2011.com/call_for_papers.html). Please remember to indicate the workshop title in the appropriate place on the abstract submission form.

Please note that also potential speakers that have reacted positively to the initial call for participation in October 2010 are required to send a full abstract through the conference website.

Important Deadlines:

15 January 2011: Abstract submission deadline
28 January 2011: Notification of acceptance

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