LINGUIST List 26.5121

Mon Nov 16 2015

Calls: General Ling, Historical Ling, Socioling, Typology/Italy

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 16-Nov-2015
From: Caroline Gentens <>
Subject: Perspective-indexing Constructions
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Full Title: Perspective-indexing Constructions

Date: 31-Aug-2016 - 03-Sep-2016
Location: Naples, Italy
Contact Person: Stef Spronck
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Typology

Call Deadline: 23-Nov-2016

Meeting Description:

The past decade has seen a surge of interest in the topic of (inter)subjectivity and the expression of perspective, with many studies expanding both the empirical basis of perspective-indexing constructions and our theoretical understanding of how (inter)subjectivity affects grammar (e.g. Vandelanotte 2004, 2009; Verhagen 2005; De Smet and Verstraete 2006; Gipper 2011; Bergqvist 2012; Gawne 2013; Bruil 2014; Ghesquière et al. 2014; Cornillie & De Cock 2015; San Roque & Bergqvist 2015; San Roque et al. Forthc.; Dancygier et al. 2016.). As a result, we are now able to identify a set of discourse contexts and construction types in which indexical shifts, signaling a change in perspective, tend to occur. Typical perspective-shifting contexts on the complex sentence/clause-level include contexts of reported speech/thought, explicit epistemic authority marking and evidentiality.

Having acknowledged these constructions and contexts as canonical sites for facilitating perspective shifts, in this workshop we examine instances in which, either through language change or within the dynamics of discourse, perspective does not shift (we call these cases of perspective persistence) or does shift, whereas elements in the construction would suggest no or a different shift (we call these irregular perspective shifts). For examples, see the full call for papers.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together linguists working on different types of perspective-indexing constructions from a wide range of languages, to understand how these different types of constructions relate to each other, and what type of perspective shifts they illustrate. More specifically, the topics and questions we want to address include, but are not limited to, the following:

- What newly described phenomena can add to our understanding of perspective-indexing constructions?
- What is the semantic status of irregular perspective shifts?
- What are pragmatic conditions for underspecifying such shifts?
- What are common diachronic sources of perspective-indexing constructions?
- Can we detect areal biases in the distribution of perspective-indexing constructions?
- Does the availability of perspective-indexing constructions covary with the availability of morphological systems of evidentiality or egophoricity or yet other systems?
- What parameters are needed for a typology of perspective-indexing constructions?

Call for Abstracts:

Perspective-indexing constructions:
irregular perspective shifts and perspective persistence

Workshop conveners: Caroline Gentens (University of Leuven), María Sol Sansiñena (University of Leuven & University of Ghent), Stef Spronck (University of Leuven), An Van linden (Catholic University of Louvain).

Examples of irregular perspective shifts include instances of echoic modality, by means of which a speaker echoes ''some position voiced or implied in the preceding discourse'' (Verstraete 2007: 216). In a reported speech construction, as in (1), an echoic modal displaces the commitment to the speech act/modal stance to a contextually available source of information other than the represented speaker.
(1) Over the years, many people have written both positively and negatively about the NCFIC. Here are the seven most common mischaracterizations. (…) The NCFIC believes that the whole family must always be together for all gatherings.
False. We have never said that the whole family must be together for all gatherings (Wordbanks Online Corpus, cited in Gentens & Davidse, in prep.)

A second example of an irregular perspective shift is the Ungarinyin construction in (2). It contains the epistemic modal clitic =karra ‘maybe’, which normally either expresses doubt on the part of the speaker, or doubt on the part of a reported speaker in quotation. However, when, as in (2), the marker appears in a reported speech or thought construction in which the matrix clause (ngamara ‘I said/thought’) interrupts the clause representing the reported message (goanna nyalangun kuno ‘there is a goanna’s head over there’ ), the interpretation of =karra ‘maybe’ becomes quite different: it indicates that the belief held by the reported speaker (need not be first person) is evaluated as a wrong belief by the current speaker (Spronck 2015).

(2) goanna=karra nga-ma-ra nya-langkun kuno
goanna=maybe 1SG-think-PST F.SG-head NW.DIST
‘I wrongly thought it was a goanna’s head over there’ (Spronck 2015: 178)

Many multiple-perspective constructions (Evans 2006; San Roque & Bergqvist 2015) display similar types of irregular perspective shifts.
Constructions displaying perspective persistence include egophoric and subjective-prominent constructions (e.g. Ikegami 2005; San Roque et al. Forthc.), in which the first person perspective maintains priority over other perspectives, or non-quotational reported speech constructions (Pascual 2014: ch. 4). An example of the latter type is (3) from the South-American isolate Aikanã.

(3) ura-da-re-ẽ
lit. ‘He (says), “I will laugh”’
‘He will laugh’ (Van der Voort, forthc.)

Example (3) is formally a reported speech construction, and would therefore signal a shift away from the perspective of the current speaker, as in the literal translation. However, as the idiomatic translation indicates, (3) has to be interpreted from the perspective of the current speaker. Therefore, the indexed perspective remains that of the speaker, an instance of perspective persistence.

We invite 300-word abstracts addressing any of the above issues or related questions, for 20 min.-presentations (+ 10 min. discussion time). Abstracts should be submitted to stef.spronck[at], and should contain title, author’s name and affiliation. The deadline for the submission of abstracts is November 23 2015. If the workshop is accepted (notification of acceptance will follow around December 15), authors will be invited to submit a 500-word abstract before January 15 2016, which will be reviewed by the SLE 2015 scientific committee and by the conveners.

Page Updated: 16-Nov-2015