LINGUIST List 29.4131

Tue Oct 23 2018

Calls: Disc Analysis, Gen Ling, Pragmatics, Syntax, Text/Corpus Ling/Germany

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 19-Oct-2018
From: Rita Finkbeiner <>
Subject: Questions across Communicative Settings, Genres, and Discourse Domains
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Full Title: Questions across Communicative Settings, Genres, and Discourse Domains

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

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis; General Linguistics; Pragmatics; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Nov-2018

Meeting Description:

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

Workshop convenors: Rita Finkbeiner, Julian Stawecki and Robert Külpmann

One of the most fascinating aspects of questions is their power to structure discourse. Question/answer pairs can be said to represent the basic units of dialogic interaction. But also beyond dialogue, questions – and the various sentence types that correspond to them – are entangled with their contexts of use in a number of intriguing ways. Questions come in a wide variety of formal and functional subtypes and are distributed among a wide variety of communicative settings, genres, and discourse domains.

There are specific types of questions for specific communicative purposes (e.g., exam questions, police interview questions, research questions). What is more, different (interrogative) sentence types (wh-interrogatives, yes/no-questions, declarative questions, echo questions, tag questions) or interrogative markers (wh-elements, question-specific modal particles) (cf. Reis 1991, Meibauer 1994, Bayer/Obenauer 2011) may be biased towards different genres (e.g., interview, news report) or discourse domains (e.g., academic discourse, medical discourse). For example, there is a specific kind of verb-final wh-clause in German that is highly restricted to headlines (Finkbeiner 2018). As to the distribution of wh-elements, it can be expected that how-questions are more frequent in narrative, instructive and counselling contexts, whereas why-questions are more frequent in explanative and argumentative contexts.

Examples of discourse domains which have been examined with respect to the use of questions are courtroom interaction (Archer 2005), police interrogations (Cerović 2016), everyday conversation (Koshik 2005, Stivers/Enfield/Levinson 2010, Tomaselli/Gatt 2015), and classroom interaction (Ishino 2017). While certain discourse domains such as journalism, academic discourse, medical or legal discourse seem to be highly question-oriented, other contexts, e.g., information signs in public spaces, seem to be rather question-resistant. These kinds of restrictions may be functionally motivated, but may also correlate with syntactic and semantic properties of questions.

While questions definitely are one of the hot topics in recent research on syntax, semantics, and pragmatics (e.g., Ginzburg/Sag 2000, de Ruiter 2012, Dayal 2016, Heusinger et al., to appear), surprisingly little is known about the intricate relationship between interrogative sentences, questions, and communicative settings, genres, or discourse domains in which they are used. On the other hand, the last decades have seen a growing interest in the notion of genre from a pragmatic point of view (e.g., Unger 2007, Bax 2011, Aijmer/Lewis 2017), as well as in corpus-linguistic and variationist approaches to genre and discourse domains (e.g., Biber/Conrad 2009). Against this backdrop, our workshop aims at filling this gap, exploring – from different theoretical and empirical perspectives – pragmatic, communicative, genre- and discourse-related aspects of (canonical and non-canonical) questions, their different uses and functions, and the connection between interrogative constructions, speech acts of questioning, and their preferred or dispreferred contexts of use.

Call for Papers:

We invite experts in syntax, pragmatics, discourse analysis, genre theory, the syntax/pragmatics interface, text and corpus linguistics, variational linguistics, and historical linguistics to share and advance knowledge of the workings and impact of questions across communicative settings, genres, and discourse domains.

Relevant research questions include, but are not limited to:

- In what kinds of communicative settings, genres, and discourse domains are what kinds of questions (preferably) used?
- In what kinds of communicative settings, genres, and discourse domains are what kinds of questions dispreferred?
- How may these preferences/dispreferences change over time?
- With respect do which aspects do interrogative constructions and/or questioning speech acts differ across genres, institutions, or discourse domains, and where do they converge?
- What are the pragmatic and discoursal functions of questions?
- How are the formal properties of questioning constructions correlated with their pragmatic and discoursal functions?
- How can the question-answer-relation be modelled for different genres or discourse domains?
- Is there a correlation between types of questioning constructions, types of questioning speech acts, and types of genres, or discourse domains?
- If yes, how can this correlation be captured within a theory of the syntax/discourse interaction?

If you are interested in participating in this workshop, please send your abstract (max. 300 words) to the workshop convenors: no later than 15 November 2018. Submission at this stage is non-anonymous.

Important Dates:

- Deadline for submission of abstracts to workshop convenors: 15 November 2018
- Notification of inclusion of abstract in the workshop proposal: 20 November 2018
- Notification of acceptance/rejection of the workshop proposal by the SLE organizers: 15 December 2018
- If our workshop proposal is accepted, submission of full abstracts to SLE by the participants: 15 January 2019

Page Updated: 23-Oct-2018