[Lingtyp] call for abstracts: DGfS Saarbrücken 2017 workshop on coding asymmetries

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Sat Jun 18 14:23:01 UTC 2016

*Linguistic coding asymmetries, usage frequency and informativeness
(Workshop at DGfS conference Saarbrücken 
<http://dgfs2017.uni-saarland.de/wordpress/>, March 2017)*

Since Roman Jakobson's classical papers on morphological markedness and 
on the zero sign, asymmetric morphosyntactic patterns have been a core 
issue of grammar research. Across languages we find recurrent asymmetric 
pairs such as nominative/accusative, third/second person, 
singular/plural, present/future, affirmative/negative, 
locative/ablative, positive/comparative, adjective/abstract noun, 
verb/agent noun, noncausative/causative, whose great systematicity is in 
need of explanation.

Apart from the old markedness concept, there are two further well-known 
explanatory approaches: On the one hand, the idea of iconicity of 
complexity (known through John Haiman's work, cf. Downing & Stiebels 
2012), which motivates the greater formal complexity of semantically 
more complex forms; on the other hand, the proposal that the asymmetries 
of coding should be explained by usage frequency and informativeness: 
More frequent forms (nominative, third person, singular, etc.) are more 
predictable (less informative), and an efficient communication system 
tends toward shorter or non-overt marking of these forms, as was already 
noted by G.K. Zipf in the 1920s (Haspelmath 2008). This idea has more 
recently also been taken up by psycholinguistics and corpus linguistics 
(e.g. Jaeger 2010).

However this is resolved, we still have no answer to the question how 
the motivating factors are turned into linguistic conventions. Zipf's 
old idea that speakers shorte the most frequent forms does not seem to 
be general enough, and the precise diachronic mechanisms are still too 
little known.

Ideally, this workshop would bring together grammarians, typologists, 
corpus linguists, psycholinguists and diachronic linguists to exchange 
research results and address these issues jointly.

Invited speaker:

*Gertraud Fenk-Oczlon* (University of Klagenfurt)

*Martin Haspelmath* (MPI-SHH Jena & Leipzig U)

Abstract reading committee:
*Holger Diessel* (University of Jena)
*Sander Lestrade* (RU Nijmegen)
*Damaris Nübling* (University of Mainz)
*Elke Ronneberger-Sibold* (KU Eichstätt)
*Freek Van de Velde* (KU Leuven)


Downing, Laura & Barbara Stiebels. 2012. Iconicity. In Jochen Trommer 
(ed.), /The morphology and phonology of exponence/, 379-426. Oxford: 
Oxford University Press.

Haspelmath, Martin. 2008. Frequency vs. iconicity in explaining 
grammatical asymmetries. /Cognitive Linguistics/ 19(1). 1--33.

Jaeger, T. Florian. 2010. Redundancy and reduction: Speakers manage 
syntactic information density. /Cognitive Psychology/ 61(1). 23--62.

*Call for abstracts:*

We invite abstracts for talks (20 minutes presentation + 10 minutes for 
discussion) for the workshop "*Linguistic coding asymmetries, usage 
frequency and informativeness*" to be held during the 39th Annual 
Meeting of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft 
<http://dgfs2017.uni-saarland.de/wordpress/>, taking place March 8-10, 
2017 at the Universität des Saarlandes in Saarbrücken, Germany 

Please send an anonymous one-page abstract in pdf format to 
*darja.appelganz(at)uni-leipzig.de* by August 28, 2016. Please include 
your name, affiliation, and title of the abstract in the body of your email.

*Important dates:*

Call deadline: August 28, 2016
Notification of acceptance: September 15, 2016
Workshop dates: March 8-10, 2017

List of other workshops at the same conference:

Martin Haspelmath (haspelmath at shh.mpg.de)
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Strasse 10	
D-07745 Jena
Leipzig University
IPF 141199
Nikolaistrasse 6-10
D-04109 Leipzig

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