LINGUIST List 27.2384

Mon May 30 2016

Calls: Lang Acq, Psycholing, Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Germany

Editor for this issue: Ashley Parker <>

Date: 30-May-2016
From: Ryan Bochnak <>
Subject: Towards an Ontology of Modal Flavors
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Full Title: Towards an Ontology of Modal Flavors

Date: 08-Mar-2017 - 10-Mar-2017
Location: Saarbrücken, Germany
Contact Person: Ryan Bochnak
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Semantics; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 15-Aug-2016

Meeting Description:

This workshop is part of the DGfS 2017 meeting in Saarbrücken, Germany.

Our understanding of modal meanings is crucially based on the notion of various modal flavors, which distinguish, for example, between epistemic and deontic readings. However, neither within nor across linguistic subfields is there any consensus about the exact ontology of those modal flavors. Thus, a common assumption in formal semantics is that there is a hierarchical distinction between modal meanings: there is a fundamental difference between epistemic and non-epistemic meanings, and the non-epistemic meanings can be split further into flavors such as deontic, bouletic, etc. (e.g., Hacquard, 2011). But the seminal typological study by Bybee et al. (1994) and subsequent work suggest that the distinction between participant-internal and participant-external flavors may be just as significant as the distinction between epistemic and non-epistemic ones. Moreover, current formal semantic approaches do not predict any interesting correlation between the dimensions of modal flavor and modal force, though Rubinstein (2012) has recently argued for some non-trivial correlations between force and varieties of non-epistemic modality. Meanwhile, typological research shows that the distinction between necessity and possibility may not apply to participant-internal flavors (Nauze, 2008). Insights from related disciplines likewise fail to converge. Thus, experimental research indicates that the distinction between moral and physical laws may not be as salient on a psychological level as one might expect from traditional approaches to modal flavors (Phillips, 2015).

This workshop aims to provide a forum for researchers in formal semantics, typology, syntax, language description, psycholinguistics and language acquisition to address these issues in the analysis of linguistic modality, in order to gain a better understanding of the role of modal flavors in grammar and cognition.

Invited speaker:
Aynat Rubinstein (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Kilu von Prince (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Ryan Bochnak (University of Manchester)
Anne Mucha (Universität Potsdam)

Bybee, J. L, Perkins, Revere, & Pagliuca, W. 1994. The evolution of grammar: Tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. The University of Chicago Press.
Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads: a cross-linguistic perspective. Oxford University Press.
Hacquard, Valentine. 2011. Modality. Pages 1484–1515 of: von Heusinger, Klaus, Maienborn, Claudia, & Portner, Paul (eds), Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research. de Gruyter.
Nauze, Fabrice. 2008. Modality in typological perspective. Amsterdam: Institute for Logic, Language and Communication.
Phillips, Jonathan Scott. 2015. The psychological representation of modality. Ph.D. thesis, Yale University.
Rubinstein, Aynat. 2012. The roots of modality. Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Call for Papers:

We invite abstracts for talks (20 minutes presentation + 10 minutes for questions) for the workshop “Towards an ontology of modal flavors” to take place during the 39th Annual Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, taking place March 8-10, 2017 at the Universität des Saarlandes in Saarbrücken, Germany (Homepage: , LinguistList:

We invite contributions from a variety of fields including modal logic and formal semantics, typology, syntax, language description, psycholinguistics and language acquisition to discuss the nature of modal flavors and address, for example, one of the following questions:

- What are possible candidates for modal flavors?

- How strict are the boundaries between modal flavors? Are some distinctions more fundamental than others?

- Are some of the distinctions between modal flavors based on a difference in syntactic positions, resulting in different interactions with negation and tense/aspect (as proposed by Cinque 1999, Hacquard 2011 and others)?

- Are the dimensions of force and flavor independent from one another?

- Are the dimensions of force and flavor sufficient to account for all the distinctions we find in natural languages?

Abstracts should be a maximum of two pages (references may be on a third page), using a 12-point font and 2.5cm/1 inch margins on all four sides. Please submit anonymous abstracts in pdf format to by August 15, 2016. Please include your name, affiliation, and title of the abstract in the body of your email.

Important dates:

Call deadline: August 15, 2016
Notification of acceptance: September 10, 2016
Workshop dates: March 8-10, 2017

Page Updated: 30-May-2016