ALT 12 Workshops will occur on 15 Dec 2017

We will feature 8 workshops. Scholars can submit an abstract to a workshop as part of the open call (15 Dec 2016 - 31 March 2017) for ALT 2017. Scholars are encouraged to email the workshop organizers to check that their proposed contributions will fit in with the theme of the workshop.

*More workshop details to follow soon*

Workshops, listed alphabetically by title

Advances in corpus-based typology: exploring corpora of semi-parallel and indigenous texts

Convenors: Geoffrey Haig (University of Bamberg):, Stefan Schnell (CoEDL, University of Melbourne):, Nicholas Evans (CoEDL, Australian National University):, Danielle Barth (CoEDL, Australian National University):

Linguistic typology has traditionally taken the "language" as a unit of comparison, and compared these units on the basis of features extracted from grammatical descriptions. A complementary approach involves harnessing recent developments in corpus linguistics and variationist sociolinguistics to cross-linguistic data. We refer to this as corpus-based typology, which deals with probabilistic generalizations drawn from corpora, rather than features extracted from grammars. This one-day workshop focuses on cross-linguistic spoken corpora, in particular semi-parallel (stimulus-based) and indigenous narrative corpora. Along with a number of invited contributions we are also able to accomodate some additional contributions (20+10 mins.) that address conceptual issues in corpus-based typology (e.g. nature of the categories, issues of representativity), methodological issues (e.g. annotation procedures, innovations in statistical analysis), or specific case studies. Abstracts should be anonymyized, max. one page (including references) in length, and in pdf-format.


Areal typology of lexico-semantics

Convenors: Maria Koptjevskaja-Tamm (Stockholm University):, Felix K. Ameka (Leiden University):, Antoinette Schapper (KITLV / University of Cologne):

This workshop will discuss lexico-semantic phenomena showing parallels across languages and how these similarities may be described and accounted for – by universal tendencies, genetic relations among the languages, their contacts and/or their common extra-linguistic surrounding. We invite contributions that consider the areality of lexico-semantic features as manifested in the general organization of a lexical field, polysemy patterns and lexical motivation, collocational patterns etc. We are particularly interested in contributions that have a scope of an area or a larger number of languages and make an attempt at generalizations, where the major concern would be separating contact-induced convergence from inheritance and/or more universal tendencies. However we also welcome contributions dealing with detailed studies of two or more languages in contact.


Associated motion

Convenors: Antoine Guillaume (Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage, CNRS & U. of Lyon):, Harold Koch (Australian National University):

‘Associated Motion’ (AM) is a relatively newly identified descriptive and comparative concept that we define as a verbal grammatical category, separate from tense, aspect, mood and direction, whose function is to associate, in different ways, different kinds of translational motion to a (generally non-motion) verb event (e.g. ‘go/come/move along and then V’, ‘V and then go/come/move along’, ‘V while going/coming/moving along’, V while non-subject is going/coming/moving along, etc.). Although first described in languages of Central Australia (by Koch and Wilkins, among others) and Western Amazonia (by Guillaume, amoung others), AM has recently been recognized in other parts of the world. The goal of this workshop is to stimulate new descriptive and comparative research on AM in different parts of the world, initiate new collaborations between language specialists working on AM and bring the AM phenomenon to the wider attention of typologists. [Click here for a full description.]


Cognitive explanations in linguistic typology: contemporary insights from language processing and language acquisition

Convenors: Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky (University of South Australia):, Matthias Schlesewsky (University of South Australia):, Damián E. Blasi (University of Zurich):, Evan Kidd (CoEDL, Australian National University):, Sebastian Sauppe, (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics):

The potential of language processing mechanisms to explain diachronic developments and grammatical patterns in the world’s languages has long been recognized in the typological literature. However, processing pressures and constraints have often been invoked as vague processes instead of as observable behaviour and neural activity that may be amenable to empirical measurement and evaluation. Given the degree of maturity achieved by contemporary psycho- and neurolinguistics, a new era of a cross-disciplinary pollination between linguistic typology and these disciplines is warranted. This workshop will focus on processing explanations for the distribution and development of typological features, drawing on experimental work on language comprehension, language production and first language acquisition. The emphasis will lie on explanations that are theoretically well-grounded from a psycholinguistic and/or neurolinguistic perspective and that are empirically testable. Invited speakers: Balthasar Bickel & Sabine Stoll, Damián Blasi, Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky & Matthias Schlesewsky, Anne Cutler, Florian Jaeger, Barbara Kelly, Evan Kidd, Sebastian Sauppe. We welcome abstract submissions for additional contributions that either report typologically relevant experimental evidence or draw extensively and competently on the psycho- and neurolinguistic literature in explaining typological findings. Contributions that describe novel theoretical proposals on the relation between the distribution and diachronic change of typological features, language processing and language acquisition will also be considered.


Design principles and comparisons of typological databases

Convenors: Martin Haspelmath (MPI-SHH Jena & Leipzig University), Hedvig Skirgård (ANU):, Robert Forkel (MPI-SHH Jena), Hannah Haynie (Colorado State University):

What are the shared challenges and opportunities facing cross-linguistic databases? What kinds of databases are out there, and what can they be used for? This workshop brings together scholars working on designing and compiling typological databases and end-users of these databases to discuss what the important design choices are and what consequences they have for what the data can be used for.


Quantitative analysis in typology: The logic of choice among methods

Convenors: Erich Round (University of Queensland), Jayden Macklin-Cordes (University of Queensland):, Kyla Quinn (CoEDL, Australian National University):

In modern typology with its expanding array of quantitative methods, what is the logic by which we choose among them? What questions can various methods answer? What data can they evaluate as evidence? Via what assumptions and limitations do they move us from evidence to answer? And, why is this desirable or not? Through targeted talks and discussion, our aim is to promote participants’ capacity for making motivated choices among quantitative methods in typological research.


Reported speech as a syntactic domain: towards a typology of phenomena occurring in the context of constructions and expressions of reported speech and thought

Convenors: Stef Spronck (University of Leuven):, Tatiana Nikitina (CNRS):

In recent years, an interesting array of linguistic phenomena are starting to be identified that are either (mostly) confined to the context of reported speech and thought (RST) (cf. Nikitina 2012ab; Evans 2103) [1], take on a rather idiosyncratic meaning in RST (cf. Rumsey 2010; Spronck 2015; Widmer & Zemp Forthc) [2], or have their (diachronic) origin in RST constructions (cf. Güldemann 2008) [3]. This workshop aims to bring together fieldworkers and typologists studying RST from a variety of perspectives, with a focus on RST as a syntactic domain. The objective is to identify and characterise a set of grammatical elements typically occurring in the context RST constructions, and examine the cross-linguistic variability of RST as a formal and functional unit.

Sociotopography: the interplay of language, culture, and environment

Convenors: Bill Palmer (University of Newcastle):, Alice Gaby (Monash):, Jonathon Lum (Monash), Jonathan Schlossberg (University of Newcastle)

Considerable diversity in spatial reference across languages is well attested, both in the linguistic means by which spatial categories are expressed, and in the categories themselves (Levinson 2003; Levinson & Wilkins 2006; Pederson et al. 1998). Spatial relations of any type can be expressed using language. However, in perhaps all languages some spatial concepts are lexicalised or expressed in a grammaticized way, while others are relegated to periphrastic expression. These lexicalized and grammaticized expressions are key to understanding the extent to which spatial reference displays universal tendencies, and the extent to which variation is systematic. Although considerable cross-linguistic diversity exists in spatial categories, universal tendencies can nonetheless be detected, and salient landscape and other external-world features seem to play a role in the detail of systems involving absolute Frame of Reference (FoR) (Palmer 2002, 2015), and even in FoR choice (see Majid et al. 2004; Bohnemeyer et al. 2014). However, those aspects of the environment that are perceived as salient vary across cultures, and the nature of the interaction between humans and their environment plays a crucial role, as seen in demographic variation within individual languages in tendencies in FoR choice (e.g. Pederson 1993), and in geocentric versus egocentric strategies more generally (Palmer et al. 2016). These findings prompted Palmer et al. (2016) to propose a Sociotopographic Model, which models the interplay of the physical environment of the language locus, sociocultural interaction with the environment, and the linguistic repertoire available to speakers. This workshop seeks to bring together scholars working in linguistic spatial reference in a diverse range of languages in a diverse range of environments, in order to explore the extent to which the Sociotopographic model adequately captures the interplay of the various linguistic, conceptual and environmental forces at work in linguistic spatial reference, and the extent to which the model reveals systematic variation in some of the cross-linguistic diversity observed in this area of language.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University

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