[Histling-l] call for papers for SLE 2018 in Tallinn, Estland

Werner Abraham werner_abraham at t-online.de
Fri Oct 20 13:04:10 EDT 2017

Dear Claire:
Can you please bring this into circulation via your histling program. 
Thanks a lot!
Call for papers – Workshop participation – WS Abstract:
‘Thetic- vs. Categorical: Distinctions and commonalities.’
The workshop aims at closely investigating thetic vs. categorical sentence 
types and their relation between meaning and form well as their 
distributional behavior in sundry languages. The thetic-categorical 
distinction relates to the notions of simple and double judgment 
introduced by the 19th century logicians Brentano and Marty. Simple and 
double judgment play a role in predication logic. Pertinent sentence types 
have occasionally been in the center of attention by linguists trying to 
relate them to modern and better studied notions (analytic vs. synthetic, 
individual vs. stage level, habitual, generic, a.s by Sasse, Ladusaw, 
Kuroda, Maienborn, Leiss, among others). Respective sentence types like 
German Es sind/gibt/hat KÜHE im Gar­ten ‘There are cows in the garden’ – 
AUF­tritt MAC­BETH (with stage location) ‘Enters Macbeth’ have in common 
that they are used as text starters. By common definition, true text 
starters are sentences that do not presuppose a precontext, nor are they 
part of coherent dialogues (Harweg 1968). In more syntactic terms, the 
sentential prefield (SpecCP) hosting topical material remains empty. By 
contrast, the very same sentences lose their text-incipient status as soon 
as, e.g. in German and Dutch, a modal discourse particle/MP (or, more 
generally, an attitudinal operator) is selected. See the stage direction 
AUFtritt ebenMP MACBETH. A major constraint for thetic sentences is that in 
German (and Dutch), MPs as well as other origo indexations cannot appear. 
Compare [COMMON GROUND/ TOPIC ABOUT Es sind eben Kühe auf unserem Rasen 
‘There are cows on our lawn right now/as you know’ as opposed to [
EXCLANATIVE Es sind (*eben) Kühe auf unserem Rasen] ‘There are cows on our 
lawn, surprise/dismay’. Notice the latter with its non-at issue mirative 
speech act status.
The recent decades are marked with a considerable reticence with respect to 
the study of the encoding of theticity. In languages such as German and 
Japanese, a sentence with attitudinal adverbials and similar modal and 
speech act/origo indexations cannot be used as a stage direction for a 
drama script since the German modal particle eben entails a common 
discourse ground with a topic(-about) that the communicators had reached 
before. The two types of sentences, those with and without a precontext, 
run under the terminology of categorical sentence (with a topic) vs. 
thetic sentence (no topic, true text starters). As to these, Kuroda has 
claimed that Japanese has morphological means to unambiguously distinguish 
thetic from categorical sentences: thetics are marked by the suf­fix –ga 
for indefinite nominative DP, whereas the suffix for categorical status is 
–wa, which is also used to mark topicality (in the sense of the discourse 
opposition thema-rhema). German, in contrast to Japanese, has no 
morphological means to signal discourse status or theticity.
     Other sentential types, however, seem to be subject to similar 
constraints, and relations to the thetic-categorical distinction have been 
drawn, among which with similar oppositional pairs. 
Our call for papers is directed to those who pursue the topic along lines 
of the WS goals as sketched above. Empirical material covering non-European 
languages is highly welcome. Please approach the organizer or anyone of the 
program committee and, preferably, send along a (preliminary version of 
your) short abstract describing your contribution.
Werner Abraham (Vienna University, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich) 
Program committee 
Werner Abraham (Vienna, Munich), Elisabeth Leiss (Munich), Shin Tanaka 
(Tokyo), Yasuhiro Fujinawa (Tokyo)
November 5, 2017: Deadline for the submission of the short abstract. 
Abstracts will be evaluated by the convenors, and selected abstracts will 
accompany the workshop proposal. We will notify you of inclusion in the 
workshop proposal when we submit it on November 15th. 
Prof.em.Mag.Dr. Werner Abraham
Universität Wien, Allg. Sprachwissenschaft
LM-Universität München, Germanistische Linguistik
Lindwurmstr. 120c
D-80337 München
Schüttelstraße 37/15
A-1020 Wien

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