25.3314, Calls: Cognitive Sci, Psycholinguistics, Text/Corpus Ling, General Ling/UK

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LINGUIST List: Vol-25-3314. Tue Aug 19 2014. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 25.3314, Calls: Cognitive Sci, Psycholinguistics, Text/Corpus Ling, General Ling/UK

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Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2014 14:09:04
From: Jane Klavan [jane.klavan at gmail.com]
Subject: The Cognitive Commitment 25 Years on: Are Linguistic Categories Cognitively Real(istic) (and do They Need to Be)?

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Full Title: The Cognitive Commitment 25 Years on: Are Linguistic Categories Cognitively Real(istic) (and do They Need to Be)? 

Date: 20-Jul-2015 - 25-Jul-2015
Location: Newcastle, United Kingdom 
Contact Person: Jane Klavan
Meeting Email: jane.klavan at gmail.com

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; General Linguistics; Psycholinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics 

Call Deadline: 31-Aug-2014 

Meeting Description:

Proposal for a workshop at the 13th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference (ICLC-13), Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 20-25 July 2015

Dagmar Divjak (The University of Sheffield), Natalia Levshina (F.R.S. - FNRS, Université catholique de Louvain) and Jane Klavan (University of Tartu) 

The cognitive commitment 25 years on: are linguistic categories cognitively real(istic) (and do they need to be)?

Cognitive linguists endeavour to provide an account of language data that is consistent with what is generally known about human cognition, an aim often referred to as the “cognitive commitment”. Work in the CL tradition likes to stress that the analyses proposed are “in line with what is known about the mind” and abounds with claims that the proposed analysis would be cognitively realistic, if not cognitively real. But is this really so? And how much of our toolbox needs to be cognitively real for us to be cognitive linguists? In particular, are the linguistic categories that are used to describe and compare languages cognitively real(istic), and to what extent? Which empirical methods are appropriate for modeling the speaker’s knowledge of language?

Call for Papers:

We invite contributions that critically (re-)examine the cognitive commitment and address the following or related issues

Linguistic categories (e.g. phonemes, morphemes, tense, aspect) are well established in descriptive and theoretical linguistics, even though their status as universal categories has been questioned. Cognitive Linguistics has created or reinvented its own categories, but with few exceptions, the problem of cognitive reality of these has not been addressed systematically. How should we define ‘cognitive reality’? Should we try to detect linguistic categories in the brain and what do we expect to find? Is the cognitive reality of a linguistic category necessary for it to be useful to cognitive linguists? How do cognitively real(istic) relate to categories that are unlikely to have cognitive relevance? Do we really need these linguistic categories? Or should we instead consider models that do away with these distinctions? Are language-specific categories more cognitively real than cross-linguistic ones? Is there a universal conceptual space, which is carved up in different ways by different languages, or do languages converge on their semantic extensions more or less accidentally?

Over the past two decades, Cognitive Linguistics has taken a quantitative turn. The number of publications that rely on empirical data collections and statistical data modelling has increased spectacularly. Reliance on data and statistics gives us more confidence in our conclusions, but does it guarantee that our models are any cognitively more real(istic)? Are our statistics fit for purpose? Should we abandon frequentist statistical techniques in favor of Bayesian approaches? Or should we move to modeling techniques that are directly based on principles of human learning, such as Naive Discriminative Learning? How much progress have we made on modelling cognitive phenomena that are core to our discipline, such as entrenchment, salience, prototypicality, iconicity? Which is more important to us in a model, parsimony or cognitive plausibility? Is a corpus-based model with high predictive power satisfactory even if the model’s performance is not tested against speakers’ performance? And what if the model does not say anything about the cognitive processes behind the language use it captures? Are our publication practices ideal? Why do we continue to pursue converging evidence and ignore diverging evidence? What does either of them tell us about the cognitive processes behind language use?

We call for contributions addressing these and other questions regarding any aspect of the cognitive commitment cherished within Cognitive Linguistics, with special focus on the cognitive reality of linguistic categories and how empirical results serve to inform linguistic theory.

Submission Procedure:

If you are interested in participating in our theme session please email jane.klavan at gmail.com by 31 August. Please make sure to include:

- Title 
- Name(s) of author(s)
- Affiliation(s)
- Contact email address(es)
- Abstract (1 page A4, 10 point Arial, single-spaced, margins 1 inch (2.54cm) all around). Please include a list of five keywords that describe the research at the top of the abstract.

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