LINGUIST List 29.3593

Tue Sep 18 2018

Calls: Discourse Analysis, Phonology, Pragmatics, Syntax, Typology/Germany

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Date: 17-Sep-2018
From: Peter Arkadiev <>
Subject: Managing Information Structure
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Full Title: Managing Information Structure

Date: 21-Aug-2019 - 24-Aug-2019
Location: Leipzig, Germany
Contact Person: Peter Arkadiev
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis; Phonology; Pragmatics; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 01-Nov-2018

Meeting Description:

Managing information structure in spoken and sign languages: formal properties and natural discourse organization

Workshop proposal for the 52nd Annual meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Leipzig, August 21–24 2019.

As controversial as this may be in details, the very existence of such universal phenomena as theme (topic), rheme (comment, focus), categorical vs. non-categorical (thetic) utterances, as well as an important role of prosody in managing information structure (IS), seem to be generally accepted and addressed in studies on both spoken and sign modalities. The formal properties of IS-related categories have been primarily studied on the basis of isolated sentences, but currently the focus of attention is shifting to the interplay between IS and the organization of natural spoken discourse. The goal of our workshop is to follow this new line of research integrating the data of sign languages into a broader context of IS in natural discourse production.

The scope of the workshop includes, but is not limited to, the following key questions:

- Does the fundamental distinction between thetic and categorical utterances on the one hand, and that between theme and rheme on the other hand, stand against data of natural discourse in spoken and sign languages? If yes, what are the main formal properties of these categories as they arise in corpora of natural discourse?
- What is the exact role of prosody in delimiting IS categories in natural speech? What approach(es) to describing intonational structure yields better results when analyzing the information structure of spoken discourse in spoken and sign languages?
- What are functional and structural parallels between prosodic means of information structure encoding in spoken languages (i.e., phrasal accents, their placement rules, tonal patterns which are associated with accents) and prosodic means of information structure encoding in sign languages (including non-manual prosody, i.e. face expressions, head and body movement as well as manual prosody – pauses, speed, size and other integral characteristics of movement in sign systems)?
- How does the grammatical structure and / or intonation inventory of a language affect the interplay between grammar and prosody as they contribute to encode the IS? Specifically, (a) what is the role of prosody in the languages which grammaticalize IS marking (e.g., have grammaticalized topic); (b) what is the role of the phrase-level intonation in tonal languages?
- What are the possible contexts for neutralization of the theme–rheme opposition in natural discourse? For instance, in Russian, clausal themes and rhemes share a great number of formal properties when combined with non-final transitional continuity, and in American Sign Language, topics and foci can be marked by the same non-manual markers (eyebrow raise) in some contexts. Do such contexts differ across languages?
- How are sentences with different illocutionary force integrated into the complex hierarchical structure in spoken and sign languages? Specifically, how are they integrated in the contexts which are sensitive to neutralizing illocutionary force meanings, e.g. in reported speech? Which grammatical and prosodic patterns are at play? Are prosodic signals of integrating IS accompanied by such grammatical phenomena as indexical shift?
- What are the best practices for tagging IS in prosodically annotated spoken and sign language corpora?
- How do gestures participate in packaging information in spoken and sign languages?
We welcome empirically grounded contributions that address single (spoken and sign) language phenomena or favour a cross-linguistic and cross-modal perspective.

Call for Papers:

Workshop convenors:

Peter Arkadiev
Vadim Kimmelman
Nikolay Korotaev
Vera Podlesskaya

Deadline: November 1, 2018
Please, send your abstract to:

The aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars working on information structure (IS) across different linguistic modalities (vocal/auditory and manual/visual). Taking into account experimental, corpus and field data from spoken and sign languages, we will take a new look at IS phenomena occurring cross-modally, with a special attention to interaction between IS and discourse organization. We solicit non-anonymous 300-word abstracts (.doc & .pdf) for inclusion into the workshop proposal to be submitted to SLE organizers.

Page Updated: 18-Sep-2018