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LINGUIST List 24.3258

Tue Aug 13 2013

Calls: Psycholing, Cognitive Sci, Neuroling, Typology, Philosophy of Lang/Germany

Editor for this issue: Bryn Hauk <brynlinguistlist.org>

Date: 12-Aug-2013
From: Dietmar Zaefferer <zaeffererlmu.de>
Subject: DGfS 2014 Workshop: Converging Evidence? Embodied Views of Basic Categories in Language and Cognition
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Full Title: DGfS 2014 Workshop: Converging Evidence? Embodied Views of Basic Categories in Language and Cognition
Short Title: EmBasiCats14

Date: 05-Mar-2014 - 07-Mar-2014
Location: Marburg, Germany
Contact Person: Dietmar Zaefferer
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; Neurolinguistics; Philosophy of Language; Psycholinguistics; Typology

Call Deadline: 25-Aug-2013

Meeting Description:

Converging Evidence? Embodied Views of Basic Categories in Language and Cognition
Workshop at the 36th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society
March 5-7, 2014, Marburg University, Marburg/Lahn, Germany

Invited Speakers:

Benjamin Bergen (University of California San Diego)
Daniel Casasanto (University of Chicago) (to be confirmed)

In view of the general topic of the 2014 DGfS meeting ‘A God Particle of Language? Theory, Empirical Evidence and the Future of Linguistic Categories’ that aims at the very foundations of human language (its ‘particle zoo’ with its keeper), this workshop looks for converging evidence from different disciplines and methods for hypotheses about those foundations in two domains:

(a) basic conceptual categories in and outside of language, their mental and neural representations and their cross-personal coordination (mind sharing);
(b) embodied and other approaches to understanding those basic conceptual categories in special and conceptual content in general inside and across individual minds and brains.

Assuming that language evolved out of other capacities, the search for basic building blocks will arguably profit from the study of counterparts and possible ancestors in non-linguistic cognition. Given the universality of linguistic categories such as the following, this entails that their non-linguistic counterparts, the relations between them and the corresponding mental and neural representations are worthy objects of investigation:

- Basic Linguistic Categories / Non-linguistic Counterparts
- Frame setting / frame sharing
- Topic identifying / attention sharing
- Focus marking / figure-ground sharing
- Demanding / goal sharing
- Questioning / inquisitiveness sharing
- Asserting / knowledge sharing
- Negating / rejecting, refusing, revoking sharing
- Conditionalizing / relativizing, localizing
- Weak modalization / abilities, options, possibilities
- Strong modalization / constraints, coercions, necessities

In view of the notorious problems of pinning down conceptual content, the claim that concepts are ‘represented in human memory by the sensorimotor systems that underlie interaction with the outside world’ (Embodied Cognition; Pecher & Zwaan 2005) is definitely good news: It opens up a new way of empirically investigating concepts and their linguistic activation patterns.

Whereas the debate between fierce proponents and opponents of embodiment is far from being settled (Willems & Francken 2012) the existence of reliably replicable embodiment effects is now safely enough established (at least for object and motion concepts) to move on and to ask questions like the ones this workshop is meant to address:

- Which basic categories of language in special and of cognition in general are embodied to what extent and in what way?
- To what extent and how does a double embodiment of language (perceptible form and conceptual content) constrain the space for (basic) categories of possible languages?

Data from research on gesture and sign as well as spoken language (Zaefferer & Bach 2011) suggest that understanding the precise nature of the mental representations of basic categories can be informed by embodiment. The primary goal of the workshop is to dig up converging evidence on the nature of the above categories by drawing on the different relevant disciplines.


Pecher, D. & Zwaan, R. A. 2005. Grounding Cognition: The Role of Perception and Action in Memory, Language, and Thinking. Cambridge University Press.
Willems, R.M. & Francken, J.C. 2012. Embodied cognition: taking the next step. Front Psychol. 3:582.
Zaefferer, D. & Bach, P. 2011. The Motor Theory of Action Sentence Semantics: Radial Motion, Illocution, Polarity. Semantics & Philosophy in Europe 4, Bochum.

Final Call for Papers:

Extended abstract submission deadline: August 25 2013
Website http://www.rmwillems.nl/embasicats-workshop-marburg-2014.html

We invite theoretical and empirical contributions on basic linguistic categories and their non-linguistic counterparts such as:

- frame setting / frame sharing
- topic identifying / attention sharing
- focus marking / figure-ground sharing
- demanding / goal sharing
- questioning / inquisitiveness sharing
- asserting / knowledge sharing
- negating / rejecting, refusing, revoking sharing
- conditionalizing / relativizing, localizing
- weak modalization / abilities, options, possibilities
- strong modalization / constraints, coercions, necessities

Questions to be addressed include the following:

- Which basic categories of language in special and of cognition in general are embodied to what extent and in what way?
- To what extent and how does the double embodiment of language (conceptual content in addition to perceptible form) constrain the space for (basic) categories of possible languages?

Contributions are especially invited from both linguists interested:

- in theories of basic categories and their coding across languages, and
- in empirically testing the theories using their sensorimotor reflexes;

and cognitive scientists from other fields interested:

- in understanding those categories, both inside and outside of language, and
- in the sensorimotor patterns that ground them or reveal their mental and neural representations.

Submission Guidelines:

Abstracts are invited for 20-minute presentations (+ 10 for discussion) in English. Presentations should clearly address the questions outlined in the workshop description.

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words; additional material, such as examples, figures, and references may be added on a second page.

In view of the different standards in the relevant disciplines anonymity is optional.

All submissions must be submitted in PDF format via EasyChair at: https://www.easychair.org/conferences/?conf=embasicats14.

Important Dates:

Deadline for abstract submission: August 25, 2013
Notification of acceptance: September 9, 2013
Submission of final abstract: November 1, 2013
DGfS 2014 conference: March 5-7, 2014

Program Committee:

Patric Bach
Giosuè Baggio
Benjamin Bergen
Annamaria Borghi
Daniel Casasanto
Peter Hagoort
Diane Pecher
Marco Tettamanti
Gabriella Vigliocco


Dietmar Zaefferer (Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, Germany)
Roel Willems (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Nijmegen, NL)

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