LINGUIST List 9.854

Tue Jun 9 1998

Sum: Constructivism and Ling

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>




Date: Wed, 10 Jun 1998 00:56:43 +0200
From: Ralf <>


0. Introduction

I thank all the people who informed me about constructivist
linguistics approaches, and I was very happy to find some interested
linguists who would like to know more about constructivism or
constructivist linguistics. especially, i had some email discussions
which were/are very interesting.

Science-theoretically, "constructivism" is multi-facetted and far from
being a unified theory. there is a kind of common sense, however, the
smallest common denominator being probably the concept of
self-organisation of systems. // The main proponents of the new
scientific paradigm (as mentioned by colleagues) are: jean piaget;
heinz von foerster, e. von glasersfeld; humberto maturana, francisco
j. varela; siegfried j. schmidt, gebhard rusch; berger & luckmann,
and still some others.

1. Interested in (getting ((any) further) infos on) Constructivism:

Kath Copley <>
Gert Westermann <>
Kazuko Shinohara <>
Friederike Spitzl-Dupic <>
Charles Belair <>
David Scarratt <>
Martin Stegu <>
Martin Stegu <>
Susana Sotillo <>
Richard Schrodt <>
Wolfgang Schulze <>
Tobias Schoofs <>
Juergen Broschart <am004mail1.rrz.Uni-Koeln.DE>
Anita Fetzer <>
Sylvia Moosmueller <>
Ralf Vollmann <>

2. Web pages:

2.1. linguists (Wolfgang Schulze) (Gert Westermann) (Gert
Westermann) (Elisabeth Bates)

2.2. constructivist websites:

(some may be wrong or inadequate... 
had no time to check again.) (on Heinz von
Foerster) (organisers of workshops)

3. Constructivist work in linguistics:

Two people informed me about the linguistics section ("Linguistik und
Konstruktivismus") at a recent congress (30.04.-03.05.1998) in
Heidelberg, 'Ways of Worldmaking; The Reality of Constructivism II'
("Weisen der Welterzeugung"), a section organised by Juergen
Broschart, University of Koeln <>. Please
have a look at for details
about this event, where a complete list of the speeches can be found.

Gert Westermann (, Centre for Cognitive Science,
University of Edinburgh, works on constructivist approaches to
language and cognition; he has recently developed a constructivist
neural network that learns the English Past Tense. (see

Martin Stegu's <> works contain
constructivist linguistics approaches in communication research. Cf. and reference below.

Anita Fetzer <> is doing research in
context - contextual function based on Habermas's concept of validity
claim, Goffman's frame analysis, systemic grammar, and
ethnomethodology, and is interested in work done on SOCIAL

Susana Sotillo's <> recent paper presented
at the March 1997 AAAL conference on language learning partnerships
and the co-construction of an electronic zpd is to be submitted for
publication. It is not explicitly on constructivism, but has
considered this theory. (see

Wolfgang Schulze <> is working on a
constructivist language theory ("Konstruktivistische Sprachtheorie"),
in which the "grammar of scenes and scenarios" is developed. A book
series is going to appear, cf.

Tobias Schoofs <> is working within a more
"classical" constructivist framework (a la piaget). Especially, he and
his colleagues are designing machine translation programs whose
semantic problems are to be solved with artificial neural networks
(ANNs). Cf.

I myself will mention here the international child language
acquisition project directed by wolfgang u. dressler
<> from vienna, austria. its main theory is
exposed in dressler & karpf 1995 (see below).

Cognitive grammarians (Scott DeLancey <>,
George Lakoff and others) have been mentioned to be working in a quite
similar way. Constructivist ideas are also said to be found in 'more
cognitivist' linguistics (e.g. Steven Pinker, etc.).

Special interest was uttered whether syntax has ever been analysed in
a constructivist way. -- After what I found out now, I would hint to
the work of Scott DeLancey and other cognitive grammarians, who indeed
are proceeding similarly to what might be a constructivist approach,
although without using this label, see
""; for electronic
papers. -- Cf. also Schulze above, of course.

4. Litterature:

Stegu, Martin 1997: Semiotik und (pluraler) Konstruktivismus. in:
Bernard Jeff (ed.): Welt der Zeichen, Welt der Dinge. Wien: OeGS (=
Angewandte Semiotik 15).

Fetzer, Anita 1997: Konversationsanalyse und Konversationsunterricht.
Zeitschrift fr Interkulturellen Fremdsprachenunterricht [online],
2,1., pp.29

Fetzer, Anita n.d.: Contextualization in a German-English context:
face-wants/needs and information-wants/needs. In Raasch,
Albert. (ed.). Language teaching to adults, http://www.phil.uni-

I quoted only electronic papers here; for more references, please
contact Anita Fetzer

- cf. also the homepages of the above-mentioned colleagues for

- ------

Schulze, Wolfgang 1998: Person - Klasse - Kongruenz (PKK). Fragmente
einer Kategorialtypologie des einfachen Satzes in den ostkaukasischen
Sprachen. Band I: Die Grundlagen. Mnchen: Lincom, to appear.

- ------

Dressler, Wolfgang U. & Annemarie Peltzer-Karpf 1995: The theoretical
relevance of Pre- and Protomorphology in language acquisition. in: G.
Booij & J. van Marle (eds.): Yearbook of Morphology 1994, 99-122.

Dressler, Wolfgang U. (ed.) 1997: Studies in Pre- and Protomorphology.
Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences.

Dziubalska-Kolaczyk, Katarzyna (ed.) 1997: Papers and Studies in
Contrastive Linguistics 33. Poznan.

Gillis, Steven (ed.) 1998: Antwerp Papers In Linguistics. Vol 95.
Universiteit Anwerpen. 


Humberto Maturana & Francisco Varela [1987]. The Tree of Knowledge:
The Biological Roots of Human Understanding. Shambhala : Boston &
London. [orig.: El arbol des conocimiento // German: Der Baum der

- -------

Berger, Peter L. & Thomas Luckmann 1966: The social construction of
reality. [= B&L 1969: Die gesellschaftliche Konstruktion der
Wirklichkeit. Eine Theorie der Wissenssoziologie. Fischer Tb.]

Hirschauer, Stefan 1993: Die soziale Konstruktion der Transsexualitt.

- -------

Foerster, H. v. et al. (1992) Einfhrung in den Konstruktivismus.
Mnchen: Piper.

For publications by Heinz von Foerster, Ernst von Glasersfeld, and
others, please have a look at the above-mentioned websites.


So thank you all once again for the information. please keep on
informing or contacting me. best regards, ralf vollmann
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue