21.4520, Calls: Semantics, Syntax/Netherlands

Thu Nov 11 16:29:34 UTC 2010

LINGUIST List: Vol-21-4520. Thu Nov 11 2010. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 21.4520, Calls: Semantics, Syntax/Netherlands

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Date: 10-Nov-2010
From: Dejan Matic [Dejan.Matic at mpi.nl]
Subject: Information Structure and Subordination: South America and Beyond

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Thu, 11 Nov 2010 11:27:47
From: Dejan Matic [Dejan.Matic at mpi.nl]
Subject: Information Structure and Subordination: South America and Beyond

E-mail this message to a friend:

Full Title: Information Structure and Subordination: South America and 

Date: 27-Apr-2011 - 28-Apr-2011
Location: Nijmegen, Netherlands 
Contact Person: Rik van Gijn
Meeting Email: IS.workshop.2011 at mpi.nl

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics; Syntax 

Call Deadline: 31-Jan-2011 

Meeting Description:

In the past decades, the key notions of information structure, such as topic,
focus, presupposition, assertion, contrast, etc., have become omnipresent 
in the linguistic literature, and information structure itself one of the central
topics in linguistic theory and description (e.g. Jackendoff 1972, Dik 1989,
Lambrecht 1994, É. Kiss 1995, Van Valin & LaPolla 1997, Erteschik-Shir 
2007). The information structure research, however, has been marked by 
two major limitations. First, with the notable exception of African linguistics 
(e.g.Watters 1979, Hyman & Watters 1984, Saeed 1985, Aboh et al. 2007, 
Fiedler & Schwarz 2010), most of the descriptive and theoretical work on 
information structure has focused on familiar European and a couple of well 
studied non-European languages, and the typological literature on the topic 
is scarce(e.g. Givón 1983a, É. Kiss 1998, Van Valin 1999, Drubig 2003). 
Second, apart from the lively discussions on English clefts and on the 
presupposedness of certain types of embedded clauses, the phenomena 
studied under the label of information structure were more often than not 
restricted to the domain of the simple clause (though see, e.g., Haiman 
1978, Steedman 2000, Van Valin 2005, Palmer 2009). Subordination, which 
has been a central topic for linguistic theory for a long time, has been 
extensively dealt with in terms of (morpho)syntactic structure, so that there 
is a good deal of information on cross-linguistic variation of subordinate 
clauses (see e.g. Lehmann 1988, Van Valin & LaPolla 1997, Noonan 2007). 
The pragmatic side of subordination in general and its role in information 
structure in particular, has received much less attention (though see e.g. 
Givón 1983b, Cristofaro 2003, Longacre 2007), which is all the more 
surprising in view of the fact that the main functional load of subordinate 
structures is to stratify information conveyed by the sentence, i.e. to render 
the information structure transparent. 

A similar disproportion is observable in the booming area of the study of 
South American languages: vast resources of new linguistic data that are 
being uncovered have - probably due to the polysynthetic character of most
South-American languages - strongly leaned towards morphologically based
description, with syntax, semantics, and discourse structure lagging behind.

The purpose of the workshop is therefore to try and fill in these empirical 
gaps by soliciting contributions on interaction of information structure and
subordinate constructions in less studied languages, both in South America 
and elsewhere, and on typological and theoretical aspects of this 

We use the terms 'subordination' and 'information structure' in a broad 
sense. Thus, subordination is used to denote any asymmetrical relation 
between at least two elements that denote states of affairs, or events, within 
one sentence. Asymmetry is taken to be a multi-factorial phenomenon, 
potentially involving syntax, morphology, semantics and pragmatics, but not 
necessarily all of them. In this way, we intend to discuss, apart from 'classic' 
subordination (embedding), constructions like cosubordinate clauses, 
nominalized verbs or clauses, participial constructions, adjoined adverbial or 
relative clauses, etc. In a similar vein, 'information structure' is meant to 
cover not only the notions of topic and focus, but all grammatically relevant 
phenomena that have to do with the speaker's assumptions about the 
interlocutor's state of mind and knowledge, from topic-focus articulation 
proper to reference tracking, anaphora resolution, ellipsis, etc. 

Information Structure and Subordination. South America and Beyond
Nijmegen, 27-28 April

We suggest a number of topics, but note that the workshop is by no means
restricted to these.

- Information structure marking within subordinate clauses
- The order of main and subordinate clause in relation to information 
- The type of information found in subordinate clauses 
- Tail-head linkage
- Switch-reference and discourse structuring
- Subordinate clauses and reference tracking
- Backgrounding and foregrounding and subordination

The workshop, organized by the research group Languages in Contact 
(Radboud University Nijmegen) and the Syntax, Typology, and Information 
Structure Group (MPI for Psycholinguistics Nijmegen) will be hosted by the 
Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Abstracts are invited for talks and posters on the information structure and
subordination in the languages of South America and elsewhere. Abstracts 
(for talks and posters) should be submitted to IS.workshop.2011 at mpi.nl. 
Abstracts should be in PDF format, with all non-standard fonts embedded. 
They should not exceed 2 pages, including data and references. Since 
abstracts should be anonymous, please provide your personal data (name 
and affiliation), together with the title of the abstract, in the body of the e-

Limited funding is available to subsidise travel costs for international
participants. Please explain in a short paragraph your reasons for applying 
for travel assistance. The deadline and notification date for travel 
assistance awards are the same as those for the abstracts.

Deadline for Receipt of Abstracts: January 31st, 2011 
Notification of acceptance will be by email no later than February 15th, 
2011. Date of the workshop: 27.-28.04.2011

Organization Committee:

Ana Vilacy Galucio
Jeremy Hammond
Dejan Matic
Pieter Muysken
Rik van Gijn
Saskia van Putten
Robert Van Valin, Jr.

Review Committee:

Nick Enfield
Lourens de Vries
Dejan Matic
Pieter Muysken
Rik van Gijn
Robert Van Valin, Jr.


Aboh, E. O., K. Hartmann & M. Zimmermann, eds. (2007) Focus Strategies 
in African Languages. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Cristofaro, S. (2003) Subordination. Oxford: OUP
Dik, S. (1989). The Theory of Functional Grammar (Part I: The Structure of 
the clause). Berlin: De Gruyter.
Drubig, H.B. (2003). Toward a typology of focus and focus constructions.
Linguistics 41/1:1-50.
Givón, T. (1983a). Introduction. In Talmy Givón, editor, Topic Continuity in
Discourse: A Quantitative Cross-language Study. Amsterdam etc.: 
Benjamins, Amsterdam etc.: Benjamins, pp. 1-42.
Givón, T. (1983b). 'Topic continuity in discourse: the functional domain of
switch reference'. In: J. Haiman & P. Munro (eds.) Switch-reference and
universal grammar. Amsterdam etc.: John Benjamins.
É. Kiss, K., ed. (1995). Discourse Configurational Languages. Oxford: OUP.
É. Kiss, K. (1998). 'Identificational Focus versus Information Focus', 
Language 74: 245-273.
Erteschik-Shir, N. (2007). Information Structure. Oxford: OUP.
Fiedler, I. & A. Schwarz, eds. (2010). The Expression of Information 
Structure: A Documentation of its Diversity across Africa. Amsterdam, etc.: 
Haiman, J. (1978). Conditionals Are Topics. Language 54 (3): 564-89.
Hyman, L. M. & J. R. Watters (1984). Auxiliary focus. Studies in African
Linguistics 15: 233-273.
Jackendoff, R. (1972). Semantic Interpretation in Generative Grammar. 
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Lambrecht, K. (1994). Information Structure and Sentence Form. 
Cambridge: CUP.
Lehmann, C. (1988). Towards a typology of clause linkage. In: J. Haiman & 
S.A. Thompson (eds.) Clause combining in grammar and discourse. 
Amsterdam, etc.: Benjamins, pp. 181-226.
Longacre, R. (2007). Sentences as combinations of clauses. In: T. Shopen 
(ed.) Language typology and syntactic description. Volume II: Complex 
constructions (second edition). Cambridge: CUP, pp. 372-420.
Noonan, M. (2007) Complementation. In: T. Shopen (ed.) Language 
typology and syntactic description. Volume II: Complex constructions 
(second edition).Cambridge: CUP, pp. 52-150.
Palmer, B. (2009). Clause Order and Information Structure in Cheke Holo. 
Oceanic Linguistics 48 (1): 213-249.
Saeed, J. (1985). The Syntax of Focus and Topic in Somali. Hamburg: 
Steedman, Mark. (2000). Information Structure and the Syntax-Phonology
Interface, Draft 6.0 July 2000. A revised version is to appear in Linguistic
Inquiry, 31.4, 649-689.
Van Valin, R. D. (1999). A Typology of the Interaction of Focus Structure 
and Syntax. In: E. Raxilina & J. Testelec, eds., Typology and the Theory of
Language: From Description to Explanation. Moscow: Languages of 
Russian Culture, pp. 511-524.
Van Valin, R. D. 2005. Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interface. 
Cambridge: CUP.
Van Valin, R.D. & R.J. LaPolla (1997). Syntax. Cambridge: CUP.
Watters, John. (1979). Focus in Aghem: A study of its formal correlates and
typology. In Hyman, L. M., ed.. Aghem grammatical structure. (SCOPIL 7.) 
Los Angeles: USC Dept of Linguistics Publications, pp. 137-197.

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