Call for papers: Conference on "Modality, Typology, and

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Leiss e.leiss at GERMANISTIK.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Sat Nov 12 10:06:44 UTC 2011

Call for papers: "Modality, Typology, and Universal Grammar"

Convenors: Werner Abraham (University of Vienna & University of Munich)
and Elisabeth Leiss (University of Munich)

Date: 11-12th mai 2012 (University of Munich)

Deadline for abstracts: 31th december 2011

For more information:

We invite papers that are working on universal definitions of modality or
„illocutionary force“. Cartographic approaches to modality are as welcome
as functional and other approaches, as long as they are scientific in the
sense that they are working on generalizations concerning modality as part
of the faculty of human language, thus not being reduced to ad-hoc-claims
concerning individual languages only. The contributions should provide
generalizations on modality that are robust enough to account for
cross-linguistic varieties of modality, but that are also precise enough
to be potentially falsifiable. The conference is organized by the German
project partners of a bi-national German-British research project on
“Un-Cartesian Linguistics”. The central aim of this project is to design
an alternative approach to Cartesian/rationalist models of Universal
Grammar. Cartesian approaches to Universal Grammar are reduced to formal
accounts of language, due to their rationalist axiomatics, that attributes
content (and functions) to human specific thought alone, the formal side
being attributed to language, which is meant to be devoid of content of
its own. There is, however, a non-cartesian approach to Universal Grammar
that has been designed in the late Middle Ages by the so-called Modistae.
According to this approach, the function of language is to translate
reality as perceived by individual human beings into a thought system that
is formatted by language such that it allows for intersubjective
communication of individual experience.  The Un-Cartesian approach to UG
is a functionalist approach to language insofar as it gives a clear
demarcation line between grammar versus the lexicon (grammatical semantics
versus lexical semantics). Within this functional account, there is no way
to include irregular grammatical material in the lexicon. Thus, according
to this approach, lexical and grammatical means of grammatical functions
(functional categories) such as modality can never ever be considered to
be equivalent.
The topics invited should cover at least one of the following domains:
·The syntax of modality
·The semantics of modality
·The pragmatics of modality
·Covert modality
·Lexical versus grammatical coding of modality
·Modality in matrix clauses versus dependent clauses
·Epistemicity and evidentiality
·Modal verbs
·Modal particles
·Islands of non-modality in sentences
·Modality in pronouns
·Modality in relation to other categories such as mood, tense, aspect, and
·Modality and Theory of Mind /other’s mind.

We are interested in lively and controverse discussions during the
conference. Please highlight potential controversial points in your

Prof. Dr. Elisabeth Leiss
Lehrstuhl für Germanistische Linguistik
Department für Germanistik, Komparatistik und Nordistik, Deutsch als
LMU München
Schellingstraße 3/RG
80799 München
Tel.: +49 (0)89 2180 2339 (Büro)
Tel.: +49 (0)89 2180 5744 (Sekr.: Frau Grebner)
Tel.: +49 (0)89 769 969 23 (priv.)
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