LINGUIST List 23.3085

Tue Jul 17 2012

Calls: Semantics, Pragmatics, Syntax, Typology/Switzerland

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <>

Date: 16-Jul-2012
From: Stefan Kaufmann <>
Subject: Workshop: Modality as a Window on Cognition
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: Workshop: Modality as a Window on Cognition
Date: 22-Jul-2013 - 27-Jul-2013 Location: Geneva, Switzerland Contact Person: Yukinori Takubo
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics; Semantics; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 15-Aug-2012

Meeting Description:

Linguistic expressions of modality allow speakers to abstract away from the 'here and now' and talk about unrealized possibilities, uncertainty and chance, preferences and obligations, causes and explanations. These and related notions are crucially involved in plans and decisions, predictions and explanations, even emotional states like regret and relief. Modal expressions therefore have long been recognized as offering fascinating gateways to understanding these fundamental cognitive abilities.

In formal semantics, the standard framework for the analysis of modal expressions (and related ones like conditionals) was developed in the possible-worlds tradition of philosophical logic. The most influential version of this framework is due to Kratzer's seminal work. Kratzer adopted from modal logic the basic idea of analyzing modal expressions in terms of quantification over possible worlds. The crucial insight underlying her analysis of the languages she studied (mostly German and English) was that the main contrasts in their inventories of modal expressions could be captured in terms of two parameters: the domain of quantification (determining the modal flavor - epistemic, deontic, etc. - and implemented in her system in terms of the interplay between modal base and ordering source), and the modal force (degrees of necessity and possibility, given by the interplay between modal operators and the ordering source). The resulting two-dimensional classification was an enormous achievement in its simplicity, elegance and coverage. In the ensuing decades, while the framework was applied in detailed analyses of a wide range of modal expressions in various languages, the confrontation of the formal framework with empirical phenomena has continued to motivate calls for augmentations or adjustements. There has also been increasing debate over the limits of a truly uniform analysis of all modal flavors - in particular, dispositional, teleological and epistemic modals have been shown to each require specific tools. Among deontic and teleological necessity modals, a distinction between strong and weak ones has been proposed. For deontic modal auxiliaries, the distinction between descriptive and performative uses has attracted considerable attention. In recent years, these long-standing debates have received fresh impulses and new directions thanks to a surge in highly relevant, high-quality contributions from theoretically well-informed investigations of typologically different understudied languages. In particular, recent investigations have challenged the distinction between lexically encoded quantificational force and (largely) context dependent modal flavors. The distinction between epistemic modals and evidential markers has been subjected to scrutiny, further questioning whether all modal verbs contribute to the (truth-conditional) at-issue content of an utterance.

2nd Call for Papers:

The aim of this workshop is to provide a platform for the presentation and discussion of current work on hitherto understudied languages that pertain to the semantics of modal expressions and its interfaces with syntax and pragmatics. As we specifically want to foster discussion of the ramifications of such work for the development of the formal analysis tools, we will also consider submissions with a more theoretical focus, provided that they are primarily concerned with empirical phenomena beyond the reach of the standard framework.

Details of Abstract Submission:

(a) Format of the workshop: 12 presentations of 30min each (20min talk + 10min discussion), for a total of 6 hours.

(b) Submission format: Up to two pages (either letter or A4 size) including examples and references, with at least 1 inch (2.5cm) margins and a font size of at least 11 points. Submissions in PDF format are strongly encouraged; authors should contact us beforehand if this is impossible. It is the authors' responsibility to ensure that any non-standard fonts or special characters are embedded in the document.

The filename should consist of the name(s) or the author(s) plus the word 'Abstract'; for instance, the submission by John Brown and Peggy Smith should have the filename 'BrownSmithAbstract.pdf'. Submissions should be sent by email to with the subject line 'CIL Submission: Brown and Smith.'

(c) Important Dates:

August 15, 2012: Deadline for submissionNovember 30, 2012: Notification of acceptanceJuly 22-27, 2013: Workshop

(d) Scientific quality assurance: Each abstract submission will be judged by at least two outside reviewers. The process will be double blind (unless authors or reviewers explicitly waive confidentiality). Reviewers will be instructed that scientific quality is the only criterion to be applied in the evaluation. In our final selection we will strive for the best combination of thematic cohesion/relevance and scientific excellence.

Page Updated: 17-Jul-2012