LINGUIST List 26.2835

Tue Jun 09 2015

Calls: Cog Science, General Ling, Lang Acquisition, Psycholing/Germany

Editor for this issue: Erin Arnold <>

Date: 08-Jun-2015
From: Flavia Adani <>
Subject: Workshop on 'Sentence Complexity' at the Annual Meeting of the DGfS 2016
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Full Title: Workshop on 'Sentence Complexity' at the Annual Meeting of the DGfS 2016
Short Title: complexity2016

Date: 23-Feb-2016 - 26-Feb-2016
Location: Kontanz, Germany
Contact Person: Flavia Adani
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; General Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Aug-2015

Meeting Description:

As part of the 38th Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS 2016), we will organize a workshop on:

Sentence complexity at the boundary of grammatical theory and processing: A special challenge for language acquisition

Invited Speakers:

Shravan Vasishth, University of Potsdam, Germany
Luigi Rizzi, University of Siena, Italy, Université de Genève, Switzerland

Complex sentences (e.g., relative clauses, wh-questions, passives, clefts, extractions from weak islands) are considerably challenging for children who acquire their first or second language but also for adults when they are tested under time pressure. Attempts to explain the effects of sentence complexity have developed, at least, along two directions. On one hand, theoretical linguists have been aiming to clarify the nature of sentence complexity, how it manifests itself within one language and across different languages and under which conditions the grammaticality of complex sentences is disrupted (e.g., Rizzi, 2013). Grammatical theories of sentence complexity have also been used to interpret children’s non adult-like performance on experimental tasks. On the other hand, psycholinguists and cognitive scientists have assessed how individuals understand various types of complex sentences either in real time (whilst they read or listen to them) or off-line (after the sentence is completed). These results have shown interesting differences and similarities across languages and populations and they have enriched our knowledge on how language interacts with other cognitive abilities (e.g., Lewis, Vasishth, & Van Dyke, 2006). Recent attempts have been made to establish a dialogue between the grammatical and processing accounts (e.g. Lewis & Phillips, 2015) thereby reviving the interest in the relation between grammar and mental processes.

The aim of this 3-day-workshop is to bring these two perspectives on language together in order to promote a cross-fertilization of the two accounts, focusing in particular on the following issues:

- Which cognitive and linguistic changes allow the transition between the developing (child) parser and the adult parser?
- How could current syntactic theory, sentence processing models and memory retrieval mechanisms be used to explain how children learn to deal with sentence complexity?
- Do the effects of complexity on language acquisition and language processing originate in grammar (i.e., syntax) or are they a result of increased demands on extra-linguistic cognitive capacities (e.g., working memory, cognitive control, neighboring interfaces)? Or both?
- Is there a way to reconcile the two approaches? What is the relation to complexity issues from other linguistic areas such as semantics and phonology?


Lewis, Shevaun & Phillips, Colin. 2015. Aligning grammatical theories and language processing models. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research 44. 27–46.
Lewis, Richard L., Vasishth, Shravan & Van Dyke, Julie A. 2006. Computational principles of working memory in sentence comprehension. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 10. 447-454.
Rizzi, Luigi. 2013. Locality. Lingua 130. 169-186.

Call for Papers:

We invite scholars from all backgrounds to submit theoretical elaborations and/or empirical work that foster the dialogue between the grammatical and processing theories. Priority will be given to contributions that highlight the implications of this dialogue for language acquisition research.

We solicit abstracts for 30 minute talks (20 min presentation + 10 min discussion). An abstract should be anonymous and comprise the following: one page with the title of the talk and 400 words of self-contained text, plus an optional second page for figures, additional descriptions, and references. References should conform to the Unified Style Sheet for Linguistic Journals (, glosses should conform to the Leipzig glossing rules (

Please send your abstract as PDF file to The subject of the message should be ‘complexity abstract’, and the body of the message should include author name(s), affiliation(s), and contact information (including email address).

The language of the workshop is English. All information can also be found on the workshop website:

Important Dates:

Abstract Submission Deadline: August 16, 2015
Acceptance Notification: early September 2015
DGfS Conference in Konstanz: February 23-26, 2015

If you have questions, feel free to contact us at:

Page Updated: 09-Jun-2015