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Workshop "System, Usage, and Society"

Wann 11.11.2011 um 20:00 bis
12.11.2011 um 18:30
Wo Senatssaal, Rektorat, Fahnenbergplatz
Teilnehmer nach Anmeldung
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Organizers: Aria Adli, Marco García García, Göz Kaufmann


The idea to this workshop is primarily based on the debate in a series of ‘Letters to Language’ that followed Newmeyer’s (2003) article ‘Grammar is Grammar and Usage is Usage.’ This debate showed two things: firstly, that the system-usage issue remains controversial in modern linguistics, and secondly, that a single axis with the endpoints system-based and usage-based does not do justice to the complexity of linguistic reality. Therefore, in this workshop, we would like to go beyond this dichotomic view and include issues connected with language as a social practice. Quantitative sociolinguists, for example, focus on systematic variation found in language use. By adding this dimension, two widely discussed but still unresolved points turn up again, namely the questions how to deal with variation in grammar and how to define the place of empirical evidence in modern linguistics. The second question is central both to Labov’s (1996) article ‘When Intuitions Fail’ and to the discussion following Featherston’s (2007) article ‘Data in Generative Grammar.’ In order to readdress these points, the workshop will bring together scholars with different positions on the relation between system, usage, and society.


Abstracts as pdf-file

Program as pdf-file

Friday, November 11th, 2011
in the Senatssaal of the Rektorat

09:00 Aria Adli, Marco García García & Göz Kaufmann (University of Freiburg): Welcome
09:15 Frederick J. Newmeyer (University of Washington): Language variation and the autonomy of grammar
10:00 Gregory Guy (New York University): The grammar of use and the use of grammar: Without society there is no language
10:45 Coffee break
11:15 Heike Behrens (University of Basel): Building a system through input and interaction in language development
12:00 Mary A. Kato (State University of Campinas): Variation and optionality in syntax: Two case studies on Brazilian Portuguese
12:45 Lunch break
14:30 Hubert Haider (University of Salzburg): Cognitive evolution: Why language systems are society-based and usage- friendly adaptations
15:15 Daniel Jacob (University of Freiburg): Autonomy revisited: A sociological point of view
16:00 Coffee break
16:30 General Discussion

Saturday, November 12th, 2011
in the Senatssaal of the Rektorat

09:00 Aria Adli, Marco García García & Göz Kaufmann (University of Freiburg): Grammar, language use, and linguistic variation
10:30 Coffee break
11:00 David Lightfoot (Georgetown University): What we've learned from diachronic syntax
11:45 Malte Rosemeyer (University of Freiburg): Persistence and analogy in the history of auxiliary selection in Spanish
12:30 Lunch break
14:30 Leonie Cornips (Meertens Institute, Amsterdam): The no man's land between syntax and sociolinguistics: Idiolectal variability
15:15 Richard Cameron (University of Illinois at Chicago): Looking for structure-dependence, category-sensitive processes, and long-distance dependencies in usage
16:00 Coffee break
16:30 Rena Torres Cacoullos (Pennsylvania State University): ‘Reanalysis’ is gradual, constituent structure is gradient
17:15 Guido Seiler (University of Freiburg): Syntactization, analogy, and the distinction between proximate and ultimate causations
18:00 Closing remarks