LINGUIST List 9.1070

Sat Jul 25 1998

Confs: Complexity in Language

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>

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  1. Wouter Kusters, Complexity in Language Contact, Acquisition and Change

Message 1: Complexity in Language Contact, Acquisition and Change

Date: Tue, 07 Jul 1998 16:56:22 +0200
From: Wouter Kusters <>
Subject: Complexity in Language Contact, Acquisition and Change

NEWSLETTER 1. Workshop on Complexity in language contact, acquisition
and change. 8 September 1998, Paris, France.

In colaboration with the CNRS (Centre National de Recherche
Scientifique), the LOT (Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics) is
organizing some workshops to create a forum to encourage the
discussion between researchers in linguistics from the Netherlands and
	One of the workshops is initiated by members of the University
of Amsterdam and has as its subject: Complexity in language contact,
acquisition and change. The workshop will take place on Tuesday the
8th of September, starting at 14.30 until approximately 20.00h.

The theme 

Although there is a kind of dogma that all natural languages are
equally complex, at least for certain subsystems of language there may
well be differences in complexity. In discussions of processes of
language change and first and second language acquisition the notion
of complexity plays an important role. Especially in creole studies
simplicity and complexity implicitly have been dominant issues in the
debate, but are seldom properly scrutinized.
	In this workshop we want to discuss the role of complexity in
these domains, including grammatical theory, first and second language
acquisition, language change and language contact - in order to shed
light on controversial problems invoked by the term complexity in
linguistics in general.

The structure of the workshop 

The workshop is organized around three themes: creole languages,
language acquisition and language change. Each theme will be discussed
by researchers from France and the Netherlands in 10 minutes
presentations, inspired by the following propositions. After these
short presentations there will be time for discussion in each session.

1. All languages have the same "costs/payment" balance, i.e. if a
language becomes phonologically more simple, its morphological system
will become more complex. [cf. Haugen 1976:286]

2. All complexity in languages resides in the lexicon. [cf. Aronoff

3. Languages spoken within small communities are more complex than
languages of large communities. [cf. Whinnom 1980, Hymes 1971,
Mhlhusler 1996]

4. Language shift will in general lead to simplification, while
borrowing will lead generally to more complex
structures. [cf. Thomason & Kaufman 1988]

5. Complexity does not play a role in first language acquisition, but
it does in second language acquisition. [cf. Trudgill 1992]

6. Grammaticalization leads to greater complexity. [Labov 1990,
Bickerton 1981]


14.30 Chair and Opening Pieter Muysken (University of

14.35: Introduction
Hadewych van Rheeden (University of Amsterdam)
Wouter Kusters (University of Amsterdam)

14.55: Language acquisition
Elisabeth van der Linden (University of Amsterdam)
Daniel Veronique (Universit de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris III)
Colette Noyau (Universit de Paris X)
Peter Coopmans (University of Utrecht)	

15.55: Break

16.15: Creoles
Jacques Arends (University of Amsterdam)
Adrienne Bruyn (University of Amsterdam)
Karl Gadelii (University of Gteborg)
Andree Tabouret-Keller (Universit de Strasbourg)

17.15: Break
Chair: To be announced

17.35: Language Change
Marc van Oostendorp (University of Amsterdam/ Leiden)
Fred Weerman (University of Utrecht)
Colette Feuillard (Universit Ren Descartes, Paris V)
Muriel Norde (University of Amsterdam)
Francoise Gadet (Universit de Paris X)

19.00: General discussion.

20.00: Drinks and dinner.

Please let us know if you are interested to join this workshop. If you
need more information, just contact Wouter Kusters and/or Hadewych van

Another workshop will be held on Wednesday the 9th, on the subject of
Competing principles in learners varieties, organized within the same
joint programme of LOT and CNRS. These workshops are immediately
followed by the Eurosla 8 Conference on Second language
acquisition. For more information on the Eurosla 8 look at

In the next newsletter the exact location of the workshop will be
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