CFP: Discourse and Grammar 2008 (Ghent, Belgium) [EXTENDED DEADLINE]

Gert De Sutter gert.desutter at
Mon Nov 5 20:34:46 UTC 2007

*Illocutionary force, information structure and subordination between 
discourse and grammar*

Ghent University – University College Ghent
May 23-24,  2008

Invited speakers:

C. Lehmann, Universität Erfurt, Germany
J.C. Verstraete, KULeuven, Belgium
A. Verhagen, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Call for Papers (*extended deadline: December 1, 2007*)

(French version:

Since Matthiessen & Thompson (1988), it has been widely assumed that 
discourse structure and complex sentence structure have much in common 
and that the latter is a more grammaticalised way of representing 
relationships between states of affairs than the former. Both structures 
consist of a network of relationships between what we could call, 
avoiding too strong a terminological bias, more and less prominent 
states of affairs (background/foreground; nucleus/satellite; 
salient/non-salient; etc.). The issue which this conference wishes to 
address is the grammatical, pragmatic and semantic status of less 
prominent states of affairs in discourse and complex sentence structure 
and more in particular the interaction between grammatical properties of 
subordination, speech act properties and clausal information structure. 
In complex sentence structure, less prominent states of affairs are 
expressed in subordinate clauses, which are widely, but not unanimously, 
assumed to lack both speech act properties and information structure 
(cf. Lambrecht 1994; Cristofaro 2003). There are, however, some notable 
exceptions, viz. clauses which seem to have the grammatical properties 
of subordinate clauses, but are prominent in the sense that they provide 
the core of information of the sentence as a whole (Biber 1988). On the 
other hand, less prominent states of affairs operating as independent 
clauses in discourse structure, are not usually thought of as being 
deprived of speech act properties or information structure. It remains 
to be seen whether this is a tenable position.

Conference papers are expected to address one or more of the following 
questions or another topic within the realm of the conference theme:

- Is discourse structure best analysed as binary (salient/non-salient; 
foreground/background) or as a continuum and what are the criteria?
- Is it feasible to describe the relationship between discourse 
structure and complex sentence structure as iconic?
- Is it either necessary or feasible to distinguish between different 
types of less prominent information (Brandt 1996) such as subsidiary 
information (Nebeninformation) vs. background information 
(Hintergrundinformation)? Do we perhaps need to distinguish more types 
than these?
- What is the exact distribution of illocutionary force in discourse? 
Are less prominent but independent states of affairs endowed with 
illocutionary force?
- What is the role of discourse particles and connective devices in the 
organisation of the discourse in more and less prominent states of affairs?
- Is clausal information structure a property specific to independent 
- Should information structure be viewed as a single partition of 
information within a given utterance? According to some authors, complex 
sentence structures have only one information structure partition (cf. 
Mathesius 1975, Komagata 2003), whereas others assume that certain 
complex sentence types have more than one (Brandt 1996).
- If clausal information structure is absent from subordinate clauses, 
why do syntactic manifestations of information structure (dislocation, 
clefting) sometimes appear in subordinate clauses?
- How can the interaction between clausal information structure and 
discourse information structure (cf. the difference between clausal 
topic and discourse topic) be described in a more comprehensive way?
- Is there historical evidence of the “loss” of speech act properties or 
information structure? Can this be linked to a diachronic development 
from independent to dependent clauses, and if so, is it indeed feasible 
to describe this process as grammaticalisation (cf. Fischer 2007)?
Comparative papers focussing on European languages are particularly 
welcome and will be favoured during the review process.

Anonymous abstracts should be max. 2 pages long and be sent as a Word 
(.rtf) file to:

bart.defrancq at

before *1 December 2007*. Abstract and paper should be in English or 
French. Information about the author(s) should be given in the e-mail 
the abstract is attached to.

Notification of acceptance is scheduled to 1 January 2008.

More information:

Programme committee (provisional):
Christelle Cosme (University of Louvain, UCL)
Hubert Cuyckens (University of Leuven, KULeuven)
Bart Defrancq (University College Ghent)
Liesbeth Degand (University of Louvain, UCL)
Gert De Sutter (University College Ghent)
Pascale Hadermann (Ghent University)
Anne-Marie Simon-Vandenbergen (Ghent University)
Els Tobback (Ghent University)
Dominique Willems (Ghent University)

Organising committee (provisional):
Joost Buysschaert (University College Ghent)
Hubert Cuyckens (University of Leuven, KULeuven)
Bart Defrancq (University College Ghent)
Liesbeth Degand (University of Louvain, UCL)
Gert De Sutter (University College Ghent)
Gudrun Rawoens (University of Louvain, UCL/Ghent University)
Els Tobback (Ghent University)
Dominique Willems (Ghent University)

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