[Lingtyp] Call for abstracts for an ALT 2022 workshop on fillers and placeholders

Françoise Rose francoise.rose at univ-lyon2.fr
Thu Jan 27 10:06:04 UTC 2022

Fillers and placeholders
Workshop at ALT 2022 convened by Françoise ROSE and Brigitte PAKENDORF

Fillers are non-silent linguistic devices used in disfluencies to gain time while searching for words, such as “search sounds” like um, specific words like the Spanish demonstrative este, or discourse markers like y’know. Among these devices, placeholders are specific lexical items filling in the slot of the delayed word or constituent, and as such are often morphosyntactically integrated, as in the example below (Podlesskaya 2010: 12).

[cid:image001.png at 01D8136D.DD7EB020]

Fillers are mainly seen as participating in self-repair (Schegloff, Jefferson, and Sacks 1977), and various fillers can indicate different disfluency functions (Clark and Fox Tree 2002; Kärkkäinen, Sorjonen, and Helasvuo 2007; Navarretta 2015) but they can also participate in interaction management and discourse planning. Furthermore, it has also been argued that disfluency devices can be used intentionally with communicative goals, such as for generic expressions or as a vague identifier meaning ‘N or whatever’ (see for example Corley and Stewart 2008; Podlesskaya 2010).
Fillers, while very likely present in all languages, are infrequently described in grammars, especially for underdescribed languages. As a consequence, the morphosyntactic typology of the domain is only emerging. A preliminary typological study of placeholders (Podlesskaya, 2010) shows that placeholders fill in for nouns more often than for verbs; in the latter case, verbal morphology can be attached directly to a pronominal root, to a derived stem, or to a bleached verbal root that combines with a pronominal or nominal stem. The morphosyntax of placeholders is often rather idiosyncratic, and languages vary in the degree to which the morphology of the target item is mirrored, from zero replication via only partial replication to the full complement of target morphology. They also vary in the degree of repetition of preceding grammatical constituents such as prepositions.
Besides the synchronic morphosyntactic analysis of fillers, interesting questions are the relation of fillers with gestures (see for example Navarretta 2015), methodological issues in transcribing disfluencies in discourse, especially in the context of language documentation (Himmelmann 2006), and the historical development of such items. Mostly, placeholders develop out of (demonstrative) pronouns (like Russian eto in (1), see also (Hayashi and Yoon 2010)) or generic nouns (e.g. ‘thing’ as in Teko (Rose 2011: 176)), but lexicalized constructions that include an interrogative are also common, like English whatchamacallit (Podlesskaya, 2010; on the latter point see also Enfield 2003).
By putting together this workshop, our major aim is to instigate typological research on fillers and placeholders on the basis of a larger variety of languages. To do so, detailed and typologically informed analysis of fillers and placeholders in underdescribed languages are needed. We believe this task is nowadays facilitated by the existence of large corpora of natural speech.
We invite talks dealing with one or several of the following research topics on fillers (including placeholders):

-      phonological and morphosyntactic description

-      relation to prosody and gestures

-      fillers in sign languages

-      discourse functions, within and beyond disfluencies

-      frequency in speech

-      historical development
Talks can target individual languages, a sample of unrelated languages, language families or linguistic areas. For more information, please contact the convenors:
Françoise ROSE: francoise.rose at univ-lyon2.fr<mailto:francoise.rose at univ-lyon2.fr>
Brigitte PAKENDORF : brigitte.pakendorf at cnrs.fr<mailto:brigitte.pakendorf at cnrs.fr>

The following specifications are excerpted from the ALT XIV call for papers:
Abstracts should be submitted through Easychair (https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=alt2022)

Abstracts submitted to a workshop will be jointly reviewed by members of the ALT 2022 Abstract Review Committee and the workshop organizers. Abstracts submitted for a workshop but not accepted there will be automatically considered for inclusion in the general or poster session.

Abstract specifications
Abstracts must be anonymous: do not put your name or other identifying information on the abstract.
Abstracts should be at a maximum length of one single-spaced page, 12pt font, with another page (at maximum) for references and examples.
Please put this information at the top of your abstract: abstract title; abstract category (oral, poster, oral/poster); workshop title (if applicable).

Abstract submission deadline: April 1, 2022
Notification of acceptance: June 1, 2022


Clark, Herbert H., and Jean H. Fox Tree. 2002. “Using Uh and Um in Spontaneous Speaking.” Cognition 84 (1): 73–111. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0010-0277(02)00017-3.

Corley, Martin, and Oliver W. Stewart. 2008. “Hesitation Disfluencies in Spontaneous Speech: The Meaning of Um.” Language and Linguistics Compass 2 (4): 589–602. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-818X.2008.00068.x.

Enfield, N.J. 2003. “The Definition of What-d’you-Call-It: Semantics and Pragmatics of Recognitional Deixis.” Journal of Pragmatics 35 (1): 101–17. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(02)00066-8.

Hayashi, Makoto, and Kyung-Eun Yoon. 2010. “A Cross-Linguistic Exploration of Demonstratives in Interaction. With Particular Reference to the Context of Word-Formulation Trouble.” In Fillers, Pauses and Placeholders, by Nino Amiridze, Boyd H. Davis, and M. Maclagan, 93:33–66. Typological Studies in Language. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Himmelmann, Nikolaus. 2006. “The Challenges of Segmenting Spoken Language.” In Essentials of Language Documentation, edited by J. Gippert, Nikolaus Himelmann, and Ulrike Mosel. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kärkkäinen, Elise, Marja-Leena Sorjonen, and Marja-Liisa Helasvuo. 2007. “Discourse Structure.” In Language Typology and Syntactic Description: Volume 2: Complex Constructions, edited by Timothy Shopen, 2nd ed., 2:301–71. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511619434.006.

Navarretta, Costanza. 2015. “The Functions of Fillers, Filled Pauses and Co-Occurring Gestures in Danish Dyadic Conversations.” In Proceedings from the 3rd European Symposium on Multimodal Communication, Dublin, September 17-18, 2015, 55–61.

Podlesskaya, Vera. 2010. “Parameters for Typological Variation of Placeholders.” In Fillers, Pauses and Placeholders, edited by Nino Amiridze, B. H. Davis, and M. Maclagan, 11–32. TSL 93. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Rose, Françoise. 2011. Grammaire de l’émérillon Teko, Une Langue Tupi-Guarani de Guyane Française. Langues et Sociétés d’Amérique Traditionnelle 10. Louvain: Peeters.

Schegloff, Emanuel A., Gail Jefferson, and Harvey Sacks. 1977. “The Preference for Self-Correction in the Organization of Repair in Conversation.” Language 53 (2): 361–82. https://doi.org/10.2307/413107.

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