CfP - The Lexical Bases of Grammar: Issues on the Lexis-Grammar Interface

bartsch at bartsch at
Mon Nov 6 14:44:23 UTC 2006

Dear all, 

I am pleased to invite you to submit an abstract for the session 


planned for the 

2nd International Conference of the
Association Française de Linguistique Cognitive
Lille, May 10th-12th, 2007 

Note that deadline for **abstract sumission** is December 5th, 2006. 

Please notify me about your **intention to submit an abstract** by November 
20th, 2006. 

For more details, see please the invitation and Call for Papers below. 

Best regards,


Paper Session 


Susanna Bartsch
Centre for General Linguistics, Typology, and Universals Research
bartsch at 

planned for the 

2nd International Conference of the
Association Française de Linguistique Cognitive (AFLiCo)
University of Lille 3, Lille, France
10-12 May 2007 



At the the 2nd International Conference of the German Cognitive Linguistics 
Association, Munich, October 5th-7th, 2006, the theme session "Lexical 
Bootstrapping in Child Language Acquisition and Child Conceptual 
Development" took place as one of the first events dedicated to the 
discussion on the central role of lexis for the whole of language 
development. It is planned to continue this discussion in an edited paper 
collection (Bartsch & Bittner, in prep.) to appear in the Cognitive 
Linguistics Research series. 

After the success of the Lexical Bootstrapping session, I would like now to 
invite scholars interested in an enlarged discussion on the lexical bases of 
grammar from the perspectives of language development, evolution, diachrony, 
synchrony, as well as human and machine processing. 

For this discussion, a proposal for a special session to be held at the 2nd 
International Conference of the Association Française de Linguistique 
Cognitive (AFLiCo), Lille, May 10th-12th, 2007, is currently under review. 



Linguistic research has been for several decades determined by generative 
axioms about modularity of cognition and of linguistic domains, autonomy and 
primacy of syntax over lexis and the rather epiphenomenal nature of lexis 
and semantics. 

However, over the last 2-3 decades, empirical research (especially the one 
done within functionalist-cognitivist frameworks) has provided mounting 
evidence for the notion that language cannot be properly studied from a 
‘syntactocentric’ perspective (to use a term coined by Jackendoff 1997), 
i.e., without considering the interplay between linguistic domains, the 
interplay between lexical semantics and grammar, and the central role lexis 
plays therein. 

For instance, from the developmental perspective, the empirical work of 
Elizabeth Bates and associates has been crucial for the view on the 
“emergence of grammar from the lexicon” (Bates & Goodman 1999; also see 
Bates, Bretherton, & Snyder 1987; and, as examples for more recent studies 
inspired by Bates’ work, Kauschke 2000; and Bassano, Laaha, Maillochon, & 
Dressler 2004). This is also the idea underlying the Lexical Bootstrapping 
Hypothesis (LBH), i.e., the hypothesis that early lexical development, as 
mapping of words to referents or their conceptualisations, and even to whole 
propositions, is not only prior to, but also pre-requisite for the emergence 
of morpho-syntactic constructions, as well as, in later developmental 
stages, for the enhancement of other linguistic abilities (Bartsch 2006, 
Bartsch in prep.). 

But LBH can be situated within a language-general lexicalist hypothesis in 
that it attributes a fundamental role to lexis over grammar (strong 
version), resp. a continuity or complex interplay of lexis and grammar (weak 
version), not only in language development, but also in evolution, 
diachrony, synchrony, as well as human and machine processing. The 
lexicalist hypothesis is in line with an increasing corpus of empirical 
findings, theoretical proposals and methodological approaches from the last 
decades, such as the following: 

a) Developmental Perspective:
 - lexical bootstrapping (grammar from lexis) (see studies mentioned above);
 - syntactic bootstrapping (lexis from grammar) (Landau & Gleitman 1985; Lee 
& Naigles 2005). 

b) Diachronic Perspective:
 - lexico-semantic evolution shapes and determines grammaticalisation 
processes (Lemmens 1999; Bybee 2005);
 - grammaticalisation (grammar from lexis) and lexicalisation (lexis from 
grammar) as complementary bidirectional processes (Brinton & Traugott 2005). 

c) Synchronic Perspective:
 - lexico-semantic structures constrain constructional possibilities (Lemmens 
 - merely methodological/terminological, but by no means ontological, 
differentiation between lexis and grammar (Köller 2004);
 - grammar as an outcome of lexical structure in language use (Hoey 2005);
 - grammatical investigation by means of the “method of lexical exceptions” 
(Beedham’s 2005). 

d) Human Language Processing:
 - interplay of “lexical and structural effects” in infant speech perception 
(Höhle, Schmitz, Santelmann, & Weissenborn, 2006 to appear);
 - “lexical and referential influences” in sentence processing by humans 
(Kidd & Bavin 2005). 

e) Computer Modelling:
 - grammar as an outcome of lexical structure in connectionist modelling of 
language development (Howell & Becker under review);
 - “coevolution of lexicon and syntax” in connectionist modelling of language 
evolution (phylogeny) (Gong & Wang 2005). 

These and other studies have repeatedly confirmed Jackendoff’s view of 
“syntactocentrism” as a “scientific mistake” (Jackendoff 2003: 654), as 
“just an assumption that itself was partly a product of historical accident” 
(Jackendoff 1997: 19), even though Jackendoff’s motivations and goals are 
somewhat different from the ones to be pursued in this theme session. 

This special session is intended as a forum for discussion on the general 
lexicalist theory of language in its strong and weak versions, from the 
perspectives just mentioned. 

The individual contributions should focus on the following general questions 
(for instance, as discussed in the studies mentioned above): 

1) How, concerning which aspects, and to which extent are grammatical 
categories and structures shaped and determined by lexico-semantic 
categories and structures (lexicalist view)? 

2) How, concerning which aspects, and to which extent are lexico-semantic 
categories and structures shaped and determined by grammatical categories 
and structures (‘syntactocentric’ view)? 

3) Are the lexicalist and the ‘syntactocentric’ view compatible with each 
other? And if so, how, concerning which aspects, and to which extent? 

The session is intended to have at least one contribution focussing on 
aspects of one of these areas:
 - child language development
 - language change
 - language evolution
 - synchrony
 - human language processing
 - machine language processing. 

Papers combining one of these areas with computer modelling or 
neurolinguistic investigations, as well as offering a survey on the research 
relevant for their respective areas are especially encouraged. The papers 
might focus on the researcher’s original empirical research, on theoretical 
synthesising reflexions reviewing a corpus of empirical research, as well as 
on methodologies. 

The papers will be 20 minutes for presentation plus 10 minutes for 
discussion. In addition, one slot (30 minutes) at the end of the session 
will be reserved to a general discussion. 



Please send your abstracts according to the following specifications:
 - detailed abstracts (about 1000 words) plus complete list of references 
and, where it applies, tables, diagrams, and the like;
 - including your name, affiliation, and e-mail address;
 - indicating the equipment needed (lap-top, digital projector, over-head 
projector, other)
 - paper size: A4
 - font: Times New Roman 12 pt
 - all margins: 3 cm
 - space between lines: simple space
 - space between paragraphs: 6 pt
 - in English or French
 - as doc or rtf file
 - as e-mail attachment only
 - to my e-mail adress: bartsch at 


 - deadline for abstract submission: December 5th, 2006
 - acceptance notification: December 20th, 2006
 - deadline for sending ppt presentations in advance: May 7th, 2007
 - registration & welcome reception: May 9th, 2007, from 17h00
 - conference: May 10th-12th, 2007 



I intend to check the possibility of publishing an edited collection with 
the presented papers. 



Bartsch, S. (2006). Introducing and situating the lexical bootstrapping 
hypothesis (LBH) in theories of language and language development. Paper 
presented at 2nd International Conference of the German Cognitive 
Linguistics Association (GCLA), Munich, October 5-7, 2006. 

Bartsch, S. (in prep.). Introducing and situating the lexical bootstrapping 
hypothesis (LBH) in theories of language and language development. 
Introductory chapter for Bartsch & Bittner (ed.) (in prep.). 

Bartsch, S. & Bittner, D. (eds.) (in prep.). Lexical Bootstrapping in Child 
Language Development. Cognitive Linguistics Research series. Mouton de 

Bassano, D., Laaha, S., Maillochon, I., & Dressler, W. U. (2004). Early 
acquisition of verb grammar and lexical development: Evidence from 
periphrastic constructions in French and Austrian German. First Language, 
24(1), pp. 33–70. 

Bates, E., Bretherton, I., & Snyder, L. (1988). From First Words to Grammar: 
Individual Differences and Dissociable Mechanisms. Cambridge: Cambridge 
Univ. Press. 

Bates, E., & Goodman, J. C. (1999). On the emergence of grammar from the 
lexicon. In B. MacWhinney (Ed.), The Emergence of Language (pp. 29–79). 
Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. 

Beedham, C. (2005). Language and meaning: The structural creation of 
reality. Studies in functional and structural linguistics, 55. Amsterdam: 

Brinton, L. J., & Traugott, E. Closs. (2005). Lexicalization and language 
change. Cambridge UK; New York: Cambridge University Press. 

Bybee, J. L. (2005). Implications of grammaticalization for a theory of 
language. Paper presented at the 10th International Congress of the 
International Association for the Study of Child Language (IASCL), Berlin, 
July 25-29, 2005. 

Gong, T. & Wang, W. S.-Y. (2005). Computational modelling on language 
emergence: A coevolution model of lexicon, syntax and social structure. 
Language and Linguistics, 6(1), pp. 1-42. 

Höhle, B., Schmitz, M., Santelmann, L. M., & Weissenborn, J. (2006, to 
appear). The recognition of discontinuous verbal dependencies by German 
19-month-olds: Evidence for lexical and structural influences on children's 
early processing capacities. Language and Language Development. 

Hoey, M. (2005). Lexical Priming: A New Theory of Words and Language. 
London: Routledge. 

Howell, S. R., & Becker, S. (under review). Grammar from the lexicon: 
Evidence from neural network simulations of language acquisition. Language 
and Speech. 

Jackendoff, R. (1997). The architecture of the language faculty. MIT Press. 

Jackendoff, R. (2003).Précis of Foundations of language: Brain, meaning, 
grammar, evolution. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 26, 651-707. 

Kauschke, Christina (2000): Der Erwerb des frühkindlichen Lexikons. Eine 
empirische Studie zur Entwicklung des Wortschatzes im Deutschen. Tübingen: 

Kidd, E. & Bavin, E. (2005). Lexical and referential influences on on-line 
sentence processing: A comparison of school-agend and adults. IASCL 
Conferene, Berlin, July 2005. 

Köller, W. (2004). Perspektivität und Sprache: Zur Struktur von 
Objektivierungsformen in Bildern, im Denken und in der Sprache. Berlin; New 
York: Walter de Gruyter. 

Landau, B., & Gleitman, L. R. (1985). Language and experience. Cambridge, 
MA: Harvard University Press. 

Lee, J. N. & Naigles, L. R. (2005). The input to verb learning in Mandarin 
Chinese: A role for syntactic bootstrapping. Developmental Psychology, 
41(3), pp. 529-540. 

Lemmens, M. (1998)  Lexical Perspectives on Transitivity and Ergativity. 
Causative Constructions in English. [Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 
166] Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins, . 

Lemmens, M. (1999). Diachronic perspectives on lexical and constructional 
interdependency in English, 6th ICLC, Stockholm, Sweden. 


Susanna Bartsch
Zentrum für allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Typologie und 
Universalienforschung (ZaS)
Centre for General Linguistics, Typology, and Universals Research
Jägerstr. 10-11
10117 Berlin
Tel. +49 (0)30 20192562

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