23.17, Calls: Historical Ling, Pragmatics, Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Sweden

Tue Jan 3 19:26:48 UTC 2012

LINGUIST List: Vol-23-17. Tue Jan 03 2012. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 23.17, Calls: Historical Ling, Pragmatics, Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Sweden

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Date: 27-Dec-2011
From: Francesca Masini [francesca.masini at unibo.it]
Subject: Meaning and Form of Vagueness: A Cross-linguistic Perspective

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Tue, 03 Jan 2012 14:25:47
From: Francesca Masini [francesca.masini at unibo.it]
Subject: Meaning and Form of Vagueness: A Cross-linguistic Perspective

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Full Title: Meaning and Form of Vagueness: A Cross-linguistic Perspective 
Short Title: Vagueness2012 

Date: 29-Aug-2012 - 01-Sep-2012
Location: Stockholm, Sweden 
Contact Person: Francesca Masini
Meeting Email: workshop.vagueness2012 at gmail.com
Web Site: https://sites.google.com/site/workshopvagueness2012/ 

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Pragmatics; Semantics; Syntax; Typology 

Call Deadline: 15-Jan-2012 

Meeting Description:

Meaning and Form of Vagueness: A Cross-linguistic Perspective
Workshop of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea


Francesca Masini (Bologna) - francesca.masini at unibo.it 
Caterina Mauri (Pavia) - caterina.mauri at unipv.it 
Lucia Tovena (Paris VII) - tovena at linguist.jussieu.fr 
Miriam Voghera (Salerno) - voghera at unisa.it 

Vagueness is a basic property of human languages, which manifests itself in a number of different ways. Vagueness is basic in that it fulfills the important communicative task of conveying a piece of information that is indefinite, imprecise, in a word 'vague'.

The notion of vagueness is part of different traditions and has received numerous definitions. Traditionally, for philosophers and formal linguists, a sentence is vague when it does not give rise to precise truth conditions, and the vagueness of an expression originates in imperfect discrimination. However, vagueness may also concern the very content a sentence is meant to convey. We refer to this as 'intentional vagueness'.

The aim of the workshop is to gather together scholars working on the form and meaning of intentional vagueness, namely on the fact that some constructions are used by the speakers precisely to encode a vague referent or state of affairs.

This type of vagueness can be conveyed by a variety of forms at different levels of encoding (e.g. approximators of the sort/kind type, general extenders, list constructions, but also intonation), which, by virtue of their belonging to different domains, are often studied by distinct subfields (syntax, semantics, lexicon, pragmatics, discourse, phonetics). Despite the great specialization in individual areas, there is very little communication between the various subfields and a true cross-linguistic perspective is still missing. 

This workshop aims at investigating three lines of research:

1) Cross-linguistic Variation and Diachronic Paths in the Coding of Intentional Vagueness

- How are the various types of vagueness encoded in the world's languages? Is it possible to identify recurrent patterns and significant typological differences?
- On what levels may vagueness be encoded? Do different levels match with different types of vagueness?
- Are there recurrent diachronic patterns leading to the coding of vagueness?
- Are specific categories more apt to be reanalyzed as vagueness markers (e.g. connectives, generic nouns, epistemic adverbs)?

2) Intentional Vagueness and Other Functional Domains: Delimitation Issues 

- How is intentional vagueness connected with phenomena such as indefiniteness, indeterminacy and non-factuality? Is it a category of its own?
- If yes, how can we tell it apart from the other domains?
- If no, do different types of vagueness typically trigger different encoding strategies across the world's languages?
- In any cases, what would be the best way to represent the relation between all these expressions (e.g. a semiotic hierarchy, a functional map)?

3) Theoretical and Metalinguistic Issues: How to Talk about Vagueness?

Given the lack of a systematic analysis of intentional vagueness, there is a tendency to overproduce ad-hoc categories. This probably depends on various factors:

- The defining criteria of traditional grammatical categories are of little help in identifying the vagueness functions of the investigated constructions
- Vagueness markers are difficult to classify because they may have a reduced or broader distribution than other items of the same grammatical class
- Vagueness is not only a semantic phenomenon, nor a purely morphosyntactic one, but it may be rather encoded across different levels

We believe that our understanding of vagueness would take great advantage of an effort also on the metalinguistic side. 

Call for Papers:


We welcome submissions discussing the form and meaning of vagueness from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective. Topics of interest include:

- Identification and description of specific constructions encoding intentional vagueness (at any level of analysis) in one or more languages
- Identification and description of strategies (e.g. connectives, adverbs, etc.) used for coding vagueness intra- and cross-linguistically
- Typological studies describing recurrent patterns in the coding of intentional vagueness
- Synchronic and diachronic analyses regarding the relation of vagueness with (what seem to be) functionally related domains (such as indeterminacy, indefiniteness, non-factuality/irrealis)
- Diachronic analyses regarding the emergence of constructions encoding intentional vagueness in the languages of the world
- Cognitive or formal representations of intentional vagueness, as part of the meaning encoded by a linguistic expression 

Abstracts should be submitted to the SLE by 15 January 2012 via the conference site (http://www.sle2012.eu/), specifying that the abstract is intended as an 'Oral Presentation' in our workshop. The slots last 30 minutes (including discussion: 20+10).

Abstracts should be anonymous and contain between 400 and 500 words (exclusive of references). They should state research questions, approach, method, data and (expected) results.

Abstracts will receive three scores, two by two members of the SLE 2012 Scientific Committee and one by the workshop convenors. Notification of acceptance will be given by 31 March 2012.

For any information, please contact us at workshop.vagueness2012 at gmail.com. 

Website: https://sites.google.com/site/workshopvagueness2012/

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