LINGUIST List 32.3424

Sun Oct 31 2021

Confs: Applied Ling, Comp Ling, Disc Analysis, Historical Ling, Text/Corpus Ling/Germany

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 25-Oct-2021
From: Julia Lukassek <>
Subject: Complexity and Register
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Complexity and Register
Short Title: CAR21

Date: 19-Nov-2021 - 19-Nov-2021
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact: Julia Lukassek
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Computational Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Historical Linguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Meeting Description:

The term “linguistic complexity” is often thrown around lightly, but what exactly is meant by it remains fuzzy and elusive. Its various flavours and facets are influenced by a diverse combination of linguistic and extralinguistic factors, for instance discourse status (Arnold et al. 2000), medium (Biber & Gray 2010), situational setting (Verhoeven & Lehmann 2018), and language development (Weiss & Meurers 2019), to name just a few. And despite the hundreds of measurements of phenomena that contribute to complexity (cf. Lu 2011; Weiss 2017), many open questions about the theoretical models, cognitive processes, and influencing factors behind complexity have yet to be explored.

This is where our workshop comes in. We are interested in contributions that aim at a better understanding of the relationship between complexity and register.

Being intangibly related to aspects of processing (cf. Gibson 1998, 2001), complexity pertains to all areas of language analysis, from phonological weight and morphological structure to the manifold levels of syntactic embedding and information packaging (see Weiss & Meurers 2019 for an aggregation of complexity features). Recent research has shown that these linguistic areas involve different types of complexity (e.g. for clause vs. phrase level, see Biber & Gray 2010, and for center vs. peripheral embedding, see Karlsson 2007 and Verhoeven & Lehmann 2018). Thus, we must first understand what type of complexity is involved and be able to operationalize it properly (Szmrecsányi 2004) before we can begin to investigate the underlying reasons for different levels of complexity.

Variation in situational and functional settings (register variation) has been shown to be one factor that affects the level of various types of linguistic complexity (cf. Halliday 1979; Biber & Gray 2010; Biber 2012; Maas 2006; 2010; Miller & Weinert 1998; for recursivity in particular Sakel & Stapert 2010; Kornai 2014), yet it is not always clear what the exact theoretical relationship is between register and the individual facets of complexity. How do the situation’s communicative needs and intentions affect our choice of one complexity measure over another? How do surface complexity and processing relate to one another, and what difference does the type of complexity make to this relationship?

We are delighted to announce Benedikt Szmrecsanyi with Alexandra Engel (KU Leuven) and Zarah Weiß (Universität Tübingen) as invited speakers.


We would like to invite you to our workshop ''Complexity and Register'' (CAR21) to take place November 19, 2021 at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (hybrid event).

Please register for the workshop by November 12, 2021 (free of charge) here:

There will be a warm-up social event on Thursday, November 18, 2021 (self-paid dinner). If you plan to attend this, please make sure to register as soon as possible.

Please find the program attached as well as on our website:

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Main building (UL6): Lichthof Ost
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin

All further details and information about the workshop will be kept up to date on our website at:

Page Updated: 31-Oct-2021