Bamberg Social Cognition Typology 2016

This project aims to produce an annotated, typologically calibrated cross-linguistic corpus of over 20 languages from every continent of the world, representing a wide typological spectrum, that can be used for the cross-linguistic study of how social cognition is represented and managed linguistically, with a special focus on grammar. It grows out of the project ‘Language and social cognition: the design resources of grammatical diversity’, funded by the Australian Research Council, and continued support comes from two further sources: the award of an Anneliese Maier Forschungspreis to Nick Evans by the Alexander von Humboldtstiftung and the Germany Ministry for Education and Research, and a project line within the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL). The project will be led  by Nick Evans, with Danielle Barth responsible for overall corpus development and harmonisation (Danielle has recently started a 3-year postdoc at COEDL and her major responsibility is work on this project).

The protocol for gathering materials for this corpus is described in San Roque et al (2012), and participants in the project should have gathered material on the relevant language using the guidelines and materials set out there, and transcribed and translated them by the time of the first workshop they attend.

The 2016 European workshop will be held in the Linguistics Department of the University of Bamberg from 29th of March to the 1st of April.

The initial workshop will feature:

(a)    Presentation of project goals by Evans

(b)    Presentation of corpus-building and analysis issues by Barth

(c)    Brief overviews of how categories relevant to social cognition are encoded in the languages being presented, for half the languages (the others being held over to the 2017 workshop)

(d)    The meat of the workshop will be hands-on workshop going through our corpora, coding up 2-3 relevant categories. In the 2016 workshop, categories will be drawn from: reported speech and thought, reference to person and social relationships, evidentiality, tracking of mutual attention and background knowledge. There will be hands-on coding through each language expert’s corpus, in a setting giving a chance to discuss issues that arise and with reporting-back sessions to cover general issues. We do not realistically expect that all material will have been coded up for the relevant categories within the week, but we would like to have the analytic decisions calibrated between language-specific and cross-linguistic problems, to the point where participants can go through and code up their corpus in the months that follow. Copies of files in their current state at the end of the workshop will return to Canberra for corpus-prototype development.

(e)    Overview and planning of the 2017 session plus overall comparative problems

A similar format will be followed for the Australia-based workshop later in 2016.


San Roque, Lila, Alan Rumsey, Lauren Gawne, Stef Spronck, Darja Hoenigman, Alice Carroll, Julia Miller & Nicholas Evans. 2012. Getting the story straight: language fieldwork using a narrative problem-solving task. Language Documentation and Conservation 6:134-173.

Linguistics Semainar Room, Photo by Diana Forker

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

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