Complex Sentences and Beyond in Sign and Spoken Languages, 13.-14. Oktober 2011 (Lichtenberg-Kolleg Symposion)

Annika Herrmann (Universität Göttingen, Germany)
Roland Pfau (Universität Amsterdam, Netherlands & Lichtenberg Fellow)
Markus Steinbach (Universität Göttingen, Germany)

Research in the past 50 years has proven beyond doubt that sign languages are complete and independent natural languages with complex grammatical systems fully comparable to the grammatical systems of spoken languages. Natural languages thus exist in two different modalities: the visual-manual modality of sign languages and the auditory-oral modality of spoken languages. It is obvious that all fields of research in modern linguistics will benefit from research on sign languages. Although recent studies have provided insights into a wide range of phonological, morphological, and syntactic phenomena of sign languages such as, for example, the phonological structure of a sign, the agreement and classifier systems of sign languages, or the formal marking of interrogatives, there are still many aspects of sign languages that have not yet been investigated thoroughly. The structure of complex sentences and discourse is a case in point. In this workshop, we therefore want to investigate modality-specific and modality-independent aspects of complex structures. To that end, the workshop focuses on the prosody, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of complex sentences and text/discourse structures in sign and spoken languages from an empirical, typological, and theoretical perspective. The talks will address the following topics:

  • Differences between coordination and subordination.
  • Formal and functional properties of different degrees of subordination.
  • Syntax and semantics of different kinds of subordinated clauses.
  • Interaction between prosody, syntax, and semantics in complex sentences and texts.
  • Formal and functional properties of information structure in sign languages.
  • Formal and functional properties of indexicals, anaphora, discourse topics, and discourse particles.
  • Marking of direct and reported speech and the form and function of role shift and
    constructed action in sign languages.
  • Marking of sentence types and expressive meaning.
  • Description of contextual phenomena such as ellipsis, bridging, enrichment, and indirectness at the interface between syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.
  • Description of register, style, text form, and the interaction between grammar and gesture in sign language narratives and discourse.
  • Application of recent theories of text structure to sign language data.
  • Acquisition, production, and processing of complex sentences and texts in sign languages.
  • Typological variation with respect to form and function of narration and discourse.

Please note that the number of participants is strictly limited. If you want to join the workshop, please contact the organizers in advance.

We plan to publish the papers presented at the workshop in the new series Sign Languages and Deaf Communities (Mouton de Gruyter and Ishara Press). The series will be launched in spring 2011.

Invited Speakers

  • Carlo Cecchetto (Università degli Studi di Milano – Bicocca, Italy)
  • Kearsy Cormier (DCAL, University College London, England)
  • Onno Crasborn (Radboud University Nijmegen, Netherlands)
  • Carlo Geraci (CNRS Paris, France)
  • Aslı Göksel (Boğaziçi University Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Diane Lillo-Martin (University of Connecticut, USA)
  • Meltem Kelepir (Boğaziçi University Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Carol Padden (University of California, San Diego, USA)
  • Josep Quer (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain)
  • Christian Rathmann (Universität Hamburg, Germany)
  • Pawel Rutkowski (University of Warsaw, Poland)
  • Wendy Sandler (The University of Haifa, Israel)
  • Ronnie Wilbur (Purdue University, USA)