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t.feist at surrey.ac.uk t.feist at surrey.ac.uk
Tue Sep 8 14:12:06 UTC 2015

2nd Call for Papers

Gender and Classifiers: Diachronic and synchronic variation
Date: 28-Jan-2016 – 29-Jan-2016
Location: University of Surrey, Guildford, United Kingdom


Following two previous workshops – 'Gender and Classifiers: Cross-linguistic perspectives' in 2014 and 'Gender and Classifiers: Areal and genealogical perspectives' in 2015 – for our third workshop we want to take a closer look at gender and classifiers from the perspective of both diachronic and synchronic variation.

Gender and classifiers are usually thought of as two distinct, yet mutually exclusive, systems of noun categorisation. In a gender system, as for example in Italian or German, nouns are assigned one or more genders on a semantic or formal basis, and the genders of the language can be defined by sets of markers on agreement targets. In a classifier system, as we find it in Chinese or Vietnamese for instance, a noun appears with a semantically compatible classifier in certain contexts, e.g. quantification with a numeral. But recent research has turned up more and more languages (mostly Papuan, South American, and Australian) in which the two co-occur, yielding overlapping and interacting systems of classification.

The role that diachronic and synchronic variation play in languages which exhibit both systems is an exciting and new area of enquiry which promises to expand our understanding of the relation between the two systems, particularly in light of the fact that they are often involved in processes of grammaticalisation (e.g. gender systems which develop from classifier systems).

This workshop is part of the research project “Combining Gender and Classifiers in Natural Language” funded by the AHRC (UK).

Invited Speaker:
Professor Maria Polinsky (University of Maryland)

Language tutorial:
As a special part of this workshop, Professor Gunter Senft (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen) has kindly agreed to give a language tutorial on the system of classifiers in Kilivila, the Austronesian language of the Trobriand Islanders of Papua New Guinea.


Call for Papers:

The main questions guiding this workshop are:
(i) Are languages with both gender and classifiers more susceptible to synchronic variation than languages with only one system?
(ii) What can variation tell us about the interaction between the two systems?
(ii) How do dual-systems of categorisation arise and what is the historical relation between their constituent parts?

While we shall favour abstracts that address these issues directly, we will also consider abstracts that address more general issues of gender and classifiers.

People wishing to present a paper at the workshop are invited to submit a one-page anonymous abstract in electronic form (PDF or Word document) to Tim Feist at the following address: t.feist at surrey.ac.uk<mailto:t.feist at surrey.ac.uk><mailto:t.feist at surrey.ac.uk>.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 15 October 2015

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