SLE workshop "Challenging reflexive strategies"

Volkova, A. (Anna) A.Volkova at UU.NL
Wed Jan 2 17:56:43 UTC 2013

Call for papers for the thematic workshop at the SLE (Societas Linguistica Europaea) 2013 conference in Split, September 18-21 (

Workshop organizers
Anna Volkova (a.volkova at<mailto:a.volkova at>) and Eric Reuland (e.reuland at<mailto:e.reuland at>)

Workshop description
Since its inception, the canonical binding theory (CBT, Chomsky 1981) generated a wave of cross-linguistic research (both in generative and in the functional paradigms) that brought to the front a bulk of language facts that were problematic for CBT. The list of potential problems included:
- non-complementary distribution of anaphors and pronominals;
-the existence of different types of anaphors and pronominals (simplex ana-phors, complex anaphors, clitics, etc.) ;
- long-distance anaphora (variation in binding domains);
- logophoricity and exemption effects ('picture NPs', PPs);
- languages without dedicated anaphors;
- anaphors as subjects of finite clauses;
-variation in the types of reflexivization strategies (lexical, morphological, syntactic; verbal versus nominal reflexives);
- the use of reflexive markers in different capacities (for instance as markers of passives, un-accusatives, and impersonals).
This development in the field also gave a spur to approaches with a functional, semantic and cognitive basis, involving semantic classifications of predicates, prominence or thematic role hierarchies, information status, definiteness etc. The challenge was greatly inspiring for the further development of the theory of anaphora.
Current linguistic theory presents an array of approaches to the analysis of the reflexive strategies: from pragmatic based approaches, to typologically oriented works; from competition based accounts, to LFG or HPSG accounts; from purely semantic accounts to modular accounts and accounts inspired by the minimalist program.
The goal of our workshop is to bring together researchers working in different theoretical paradigms, typologists and language specialists to discuss natural language patterns in the reflexivity domain, with special attention to those that do not fit theoretical accounts on the market. We would like to encourage a dialogue between linguists working on the same topic from different perspectives and critically assess the state of the field.
The essential goal of the study of the theory of language is to discover the principles that underlie all natural language grammars and to explain the possible breadth and limits of linguistic variation. We believe that the ultimate joy of linguistic research is testing the theoretical predictions against the broad range of existing languages.

Topics to be contributed by the participants include the following:
1. State-of-the art discussion of formal versus functional perspectives on reflexivization strategies. How are they to be evaluated with respect to each other? To what extent are they complementary and study in fact different components of the cognitive system underlying our ability to use language?
2. Descriptions of languages whose anaphoric systems are not well-studied, such as Bezhta, Khwarshi, Santali, Khanty, and Yoruba, or languages that have been studied, but still present intriguing problems as to the division of labor between different reflexivization strategies, such as Hungarian, Mandarin Chinese, Modern Greek, and Tamil. Such discussions of less well understood reflexivity cases that present prima facie problems for the current approaches, are expected to shed light on the underlying mechanisms for reflexivization, and allow us to choose between extant approaches.
3. The papers to be presented are not only based on a variety of languages, but also reflect a variety of perspectives (including functional approaches, lexical functional grammar; formal semantics-based, competition based, and modular approaches). This allows discussion to focus on the empirical differences between different approaches, but to also bring out their commonalities.
4. Discussion by the contributors will include various ways to represent reflexivity, the internal structure of complex anaphors, limits of cross-linguistic variation, the status of verbal reflexivizers, arity reduction, the division of labor between lexicon, syntax, semantics and pragmatics (and the role of the context). And, furthermore, constraints on binding, and the behavior of reflexive markers in exempt positions.
5. The program includes presentation and discussion of results from language processing and second language acquisition raising important issues for the process of reference assignment, binding domains in picture noun phrases and the role of finiteness in binding domains.

The discussions on the workshop will be moderated in such a way that there will be ample room for the following overarching questions:
a) Are there still language patterns on the market that pose a universal problem for all existing accounts?
b) What are the empirical differences between the accounts on the market? Which ones are particularly good / bad at dealing with certain groups of facts?
с) What is the role of frequency in language? What is the division of labor between lexicon, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics?


- For all abstracts the deadline of submission is January 15th 2013. Authors are requested to register and upload their abstract individually via the conference website<>. Please mention the name of the workshop (or some parts of it) next to the title of your paper.

- The abstracts should be (1) anonymous and (2) contain between 400 and 500 words (exclusive of references). (3) They should state research questions, approach, method, data and (expected) results;

- The abstracts will receive three scores, two by two members of the SLE 2013 scientific committee and one by the workshop convenor(s).

- Workshop papers and general session papers will be selected according to the same treshold. Last year the treshold was the average score of all abstracts.

- Participants are allowed to present only one single-authored paper at SLE 2013. In addition they may either have a joint paper (without being the first author) or be a discussant in a workshop. Two co-authored papers are also allowed.

- Workshop slots last 30 minutes. Slots may be combined to have a session of an hour (cf. keynote speakers). The general schedule of the conference may not be altered, however. For example, no slots of 20 or 40 minutes are allowed; no workshop will continue during the plenary lectures or the poster session.

- Being part of the programme will be reserved for SLE members. Those colleagues who are not a member yet, will be requested to become one at the moment of registration (which will open in May 2013).

Layout requirements for abstracts:

- Abstracts must be single-spaced and fully justified. The standard
font will be Calibri, size 10. The margins will be 2,54 top/bottom and
1,91 left/right (Moderate in MS Word).
- References will have a hanging indent of 1,27 cm.
- Submit the abstract as a Word document. If it contains special
characters, please send a PDF version to sle at

Best regards,
Anna Volkova
PhD student / AiO, Utrecht institute of Linguistics OTS, Universiteit Utrecht
Trans 10, 3512JK Utrecht, The Netherlands; +31-30-2535725
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