DGfS Workshop: Secondary Information & Linguistic Encoding

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In addition to expressing some main or primary content, an utterance often conveys secondary information. Under this term, we think of content that is not the “main point” of the utterance, but which rather provides side or background information and which is less prominent than the main content. Secondary content – which in recent literature is often called “non-at-issue content” – often also shows distinctive behavior with respect to its role in discourse structure and which discourse moves it licenses. Linguistic phenomena that fall under this category are, for instance, appositives and non-restrictive relative clauses, presupposition triggers, expressive adjectives, interjections and many more. The aim of this workshop is to tackle the question of what kinds of secondary meaning exist, if they can receive a unified characterization (and treat-ment) and how they influence the progression of discourse structure. On the formal side, we may ask if and how secondary information is linguistically encoded and set apart from the main content of an utterance. For instance, some content may be marked as secondary by means of intonation, punctuation, or syntactic disintegration, while other bearers of secondary information prima facie cannot be distinguished from expressions that convey primary content. An-other controversy regards the question of whether certain lexical expressions or constructions are conventionally marked as conveying secondary content or whether the secondary nature of some information is determined conversationally by pragmatic processes.

Invited Speakers

Call for Papers

We invite submission of proposals for 30min talks (20min presentation + 10min discussion period) dealing with secondary information and ist linguistic encoding. We aim at a good balance between empirical and theoretical oriented talks, approach-ing the topic from a variety angles.

Topics that can be addressed at the workshop include but are not limited to the following questions:

  • Which strategies can be used to mark some information as secondary (e.g. intonation, morphological or lexical means, punctuation, syntactic operations)?
  • Are there different kinds of secondary content (e.g. side vs. background information) and, if so, how do they relate to traditional kinds of meaning (like presuppositions, conventional implicatures)?
  • How can secondary content be characterized and defined and distinguished from primary content? Does secondary content have special properties that can be used to identify it (denial in discourse, propositional anaphora, embeddability etc.)?
  • How does the notion of secondary information relate to established semantic-pragmatic categories and mechanisms of discourse structure (e.g. common ground, question under discussion, discourse updates)?
  • In the recent literature, secondary information is often treated in terms with respect to the notion of “(non)-at-issue meaning”. However, there are at least two different usages of this term: one that is backward-looking and is based on the notion of the question under discussion and one that is forward-looking and is based on the notion of making a proposal. Do we need both variants of this notion to capture the full range of secondary information or can one be reduced to the other? If not, are there regularities that tell us which notion applies in which situation and how can possible different kinds of secondary content be characterized by these two competing notions?

Abstracts should be submitted to Katharina Turgay no later then August 31, 2016: turgay{at}uni-landau.de. The workshop languages are English and German. Abstracts should be anonymized, should not exceed two pages (DIN A4) including examples and references, and be submitted as a pdf. Notifications of acceptance will be issued until September 15, 2016.

The workshop is part of the 39th Annual Meeting of the DGfS (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft). Workshop speakers have to register for the conference and are not supposed to speak at more than one workshop.

Workshop Details

Organizers: Daniel Gutzmann (Frankfurt & Cologne), Katharina Turgay (Landau)
Contact: turgay{at}uni-landau.de
Website: http://danielgutzmann.com/secondary-information
Date: March 8–10, 2017
Venue: Saarland University, Saarbrücken
Deadline for submission: August 31, 2016.
Notification of acceptance: September 15, 2016.