LINGUIST List 29.3800

Tue Oct 02 2018

Calls: Gen Ling, Lang Doc, Pragmatics, Semantics, Typology/Germany

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 28-Sep-2018
From: Karolina Grzech <>
Subject: Knowing in Interaction: Fieldwork on Epistemicity and Intersubjectivity
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Full Title: Knowing in Interaction: Fieldwork on Epistemicity and Intersubjectivity

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

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics; Language Documentation; Pragmatics; Semantics; Typology

Call Deadline: 10-Nov-2018

Meeting Description:

(Session of 52nd Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea)

Epistemicity in language concerns expressions of knowing (belief, attention, perceptual accessibility, attitude, rights to knowledge) and their distribution among the speech-act participants. The distribution of knowledge has been investigated in terms of ‘intersubjectivity’, and, more recently, ‘engagement’ (Evans et al. 2018). While the term epistemicity has a very wide applicability in linguistics and philosophy, this workshop is mainly concerned with grammatical expressions reflecting this notion: inflections, clitics, auxiliaries and particles. Lexical resources and supra-segmental phenomena will be left aside.

Epistemic marking reflects how knowledge is distributed in interaction, including how knowledge states are expressed and tracked by discourse participants. It encompasses multiple functional categories, such as evidentiality, epistemic authority, stance and the newly-proposed category of 'engagement'. Despite the growing number of described languages with complex epistemic marking systems, no systematic methodology exists for studying the use of such expressions. Moreover, methodological tools used for studying evidentiality concentrate on the truth-conditionality of the markers and their morphosyntactic properties in terms of scope and embeddability, and thus are not sufficient for adequate description of intersubjective epistemic marking systems.

Bergqvist(submitted) discusses the overlap between epistemic modality, evidentiality, egophoricity, and engagement in terms of how these categories reflect the allocation of epistemic authority. He argues that the qualification of the speaker’s belief, perceptual access, and involvement constitutes ways of either claiming (direct/sensory access), or deferring epistemic authority by assigning it to someone else(reported speech), or by signaling reduced accessibility to the event(non-sensory access/uncertainty). Whether epistemic authority is indeed a central notion for epistemic marking remains to be confirmed by empirical investigation.

Fieldwork-based semantic research on lesser-spoken languages has been developing dynamically in recent years. However, field semantics is still mostly concerned with truth-conditional phenomena. Studying language-in-use has yet to receive systematic treatment in the literature for linguistic fieldworkers. The methodological advances in the field lag behind its technological development: with widespread access to affordable video-recording devices and a rise in the number of digital archives, linguistic documentation can provide accessible and transparent records of all kinds of communicative practices. The field of research in which the mismatch between thriving theoretical interest and lack of methodological progress is particularly apparent is the study of epistemicity.

Moreover, corpus data alone are not sufficient to investigate epistemic marking. In order to test any hypothesis emerging from patterns in natural language, we need elicitation materials/stimuli that target the relevant components of epistemic authoritativeness in terms of privileged access, perception/experience, involvement, attitude, expertise, and stance construction. Matcher-director tasks, collaborative problem solving, and the collective production of narratives, have all proved useful for eliciting epistemics, but more so for some forms of epistemic marking than others. One challenge that is especially pertinent in the development of such methods is how to consider the influence of social factors, which may impact on rights to knowledge, in the analysis of epistemic marking. When accounting for the distribution and meaning of epistemic marking, how can we situate socio-cognitive considerations against perceptual and spatio-temporally grounded accessibility.

Call for Papers:

This workshop aims to bring together field workers and experimental linguists with an interest in describing epistemic marking systems, in order to discuss field methods and tools that can be used to document such systems. The main questions the panel will seek to answer are the following:

(1) What kind of data is needed to ground our analysis and understanding of epistemic marking systems in their communicative function as seen in everyday language use?

(2) What kinds of experimental stimuli should be developed to elicit epistemic paradigms in a fieldwork situation?

(3) What methods can be used to test the socio-cognitive relevance of our analyses of epistemic systems?

(4) How can we ensure that the methods we use in the field deliver results that can be used for comparative studies of epistemic marking systems?

In line with the questions listed above, we invite contributions centered around, but not limited to, the following topics:

- Experimental methods for eliciting forms of epistemic marking, such as epistemic modals and evidentials;

- Adaptation/use of existing tools and stimuli for work on epistemic marking systems;

- Methods for tracking knowledge states in experimental tasks and in natural discourse;

- Methods for establishing semantic distinctions within epistemic marking paradigms, in particular semantic components of intersubjectivity;

- Empirically testing the relationship between related functional categories, such as epistemic modality, evidentiality, egophoricity and engagement.

We believe that, in a field of research as complex as this one, it is important to learn from our errors, and therefore we would like to encourage contributors to talk not only about their successes, but also to discuss their failures and reflect on possible reasons behind them.

Important Dates:

10 November 2018:
Submission of preliminary abstracts (max. 300 words)to workshop convenors (please send them to

20 November 2018:
Notification of inclusion of abstract in the workshop proposal.

15 December 2018:
Notification of acceptance/rejection of the workshop proposal by the SLE organisers.

15 January 2019:
If the workshop proposal is accepted, submission of full abstracts through the SLE Easychair website

Workshop convenors:
Karolina Grzech (Stockholm University)
Henrik Bergqvist (Stockholm University)
Eva Schultze-Berndt (University of Manchester)

Page Updated: 02-Oct-2018