Recursion conference - FINAL CALL FOR PAPERS
dlevere at ilstu.edu
Fri Nov 3 17:03:26 UTC 2006
Full Title: Recursion in Human Languages
Short Title: RecHuL
Date: 27-Apr-2007 - 29-Apr-2007
Location: Normal, Illinois, USA
Contact Person: Daniel Everett (dlevere at ilstu.edu)
Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Call Deadline: 20-Nov-2006
Recursion on Human Languages will feature presentations that address
the typology, psychology, formalization, and grammatical
manifestations of recursion in human languages.
Recursion in Human Languages
In an important paper, Hauser, Chomsky, and Fitch (2002) state the
following about the narrow faculty of language (FLN): ''We
hypothesize that FLN only includes recursion and is the only uniquely
human component of the faculty of language. We further argue that FLN
may have evolved for reasons other than language, hence comparative
studies might look for evidence of such computations outside of the
domain of communication (for example, number, navigation, and social
As interesting as this claim might be, it is difficult to evaluate it
for various reasons. For example, there is first the fact that
recursion has a long and yet often unclear history in the development
of formal linguistics (Tomalin (2006)). How is recursion defined?
Second, the question arises as to where recursion must manifest
itself in FLN. In the morphology? In the phonology? In the syntax? In
the semantics? In all components of the grammar? Third, there is the
empirical issue as to whether the claim above is in fact true. Is
recursion found in all languages? Is it distributed throughout
grammars in the same way in all languages?
As a start towards addressing these and other fundamental questions
about the nature of recursion in human languages, the Department of
Linguistics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
and Illinois State University are sponsoring a conference from April
27-29, 2007, at the campus of Illinois State University in Normal,
Illinois. Invited speakers for this conference are (topics are
listed, rather than actual titles of presentations):
-Prof. Aravind Joshi (University of Pennsylvania) - ' Uniform and non-
-Prof. Edward Gibson (MIT) - 'The psychology of recursion'
-Prof. Marianne Mithun (UCSB) - 'The typology of recursion'
-Prof. D. Robert Ladd (Edinburgh) - What would 'recursion' mean in
-Prof. Daniel L. Everett (ISU) - 'Cultural constraints on recursion'
-Prof. Alec Marantz (MIT) - 'Recursion in morphology'
-(tentative) Prof. W. Tecumseh Fitch (St. Andrews) - 'The evolution
In addition to these invited talks, we would like to invite abstracts
for up to sixteen additional talks on recursion. Abstracts may be up
to 500 words in length and may address any aspect of recursion, e.g.
its history, its formal nature, unusual distributions or
manifestations of recursion in specific languages, etc. Abstracts
must be received by November 20, 2006. Authors will be notified on
abstract decisions by December 20, 2006. A webpage for this
conference will be announced soon.
Please send abstracts and any questions regarding this conference to:
Daniel L. Everett, Professor of Linguistics & Anthropology and Chair,
Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
Campus Box 4300
Illinois State University
Normal, Illinois 61790-4300
“The notion that the essence of what it means to be human is most
clearly revealed in those features of human culture that are
universal rather than in those that are distinctive to this people or
that is a prejudice that we are not obliged to share... It may be in
the cultural particularities of people — in their oddities — that
some of the most instructive revelations of what it is to be
generically human are to be found.” Clifford Geertz (1926-2006)
More information about the Funknet