Pozvánka na přednášky zahraničních profesorů2

Přednášky zahraničních profesorů

Přednášky zahraničních profesorů představují cyklus přednášek hostů, kteří na FF UK zavítají na jaře a na podzim roku 2013. Cyklus se odehraje ve dvou bězích: jarním (březen–květen) a podzimním (září–říjen). Cílem cyklu je umožnit české lingvistické obci kontakt s inspirativními osobnosti z různých oblastí lingvistiky (např. sociolingvistika, kognitivní lingvistika a konstrukční gramatika, komputační lingvistika, korpusová lingvistika, psycholingvistika a osvojování jazyka) a seznámit je s aktuálním výzkumem v těchto oblastech. Studenti mohou cyklus absolvovat ve formě povinně volitelných předmětů Přednášky zahraničních profesorů I a II (ABO100987 a ABO100988) a získat za účast na přednáškách zápočty.

Nejbližší přednášky

Peter Trudgill, Agder University (28.–30. 5.)

Pozvánka na přednášky: Peter Trudgill

Odborné zaměření: sociolingvistika, jazyková variace, jazyková typologie, dialektologie1. The sociolinguistics of non-equicomplexity

28. května, 14:10, m. č. 300

The notion that all languages have an equivalent degree of complexity was at one time very much part of the conventional wisdom of the linguistics community. And that view was,understandably, particularly strongly maintained in the face of a non-specialist public who still held to the view that some languages really were more “primitive” than others. Hockett wrote that “the total grammatical complexity of any language, counting both morphology and syntax, is about the same as any other”. The idea was that simplification at the level ofmorphology would be compensated for by complexification at the level of syntax, and vice versa. However, this invariance of linguistic complexity hypothesis has always been implicitlyrejected by certain sorts of linguists, notably those sociolinguists, creolists and dialectologistswho had learnt that language contact of certain sorts leads to simplification. It has always been obvious to them that, if the same language could be more or less simple at differentpoints in time, then different languages could be more or less simple at the same point in time. This paper will address the topic of what exactly the social determinants of linguisticsimplicity and complexity might be.

2. Societies of intimates and mature linguistic phenomena

29. května, 14:10, m. č. 300

This paper explores aspects of the hypothesis that the distribution of grammatical structures over languages is sociolinguistically not entirely random. The suggestion is that there may be a tendency for different types of social environment and social structure to give rise to, or at least be accompanied by, different types of grammatical structure. I will outline facets of this sociolinguistic take on linguistic typology with respect to grammatical change, with a particular focus on changes that might be labelled simplification and complexification, and with the suggestion that not only is grammatical complexity of certain types variably distributed over the world’s languages, but that it is also likely to diminish in the future. Of particular importance in this discussion will be the notions of sociolinguistic typology; mature linguistic phenomena; and societies of intimates.

3. Sociolinguistic typology and the uniformitarian hypothesis

30. května, 12:30, m č. 300

One of the fundamental bases of modern historical linguistics has been the uniformitarian principle (Labov 1972). This principle states that knowledge of processes that operated in the past can be inferred by observing ongoing processes in the present: language structures in the past were subject to the same constraints as language structures in the present; and the mechanisms of linguistic change that operate around us today are the same as those which operated even in the remote past. This leads to the methodological principle of using the present to explain the past: we can’t try to explain past changes in language by resorting to explanations that would not work for modern linguistic systems. But, from the point of view of sociolinguistic typology, the present is not like the past at all, particularly with respect to demography and, as a consequence, social network structure. Labov himself warns that we must be “wary of extrapolating backward in time to neolithic preurban societies”: the methodology of using the present to explain the past might be less useful the further back in time we go. So where does that leave the uniformitarian principle?

Proběhlé přednášky

Arie Verhagen, Department of Dutch Language and Culture, Leiden University (22.–24. 5.)

Pozvánka na přednášky: Arie Verhagen

Arie verhagen, Leiden Univesity. Odborné zaměření: vyjadřování kauzality, intersubjektivita, konstrukční gramatika, evoluční lingvistika1. Human Cooperative Communication and Types of Linguistic Meaning

22. května, 12:30, m. č. 200

Human languages are relatively reliable, flexible, and cheap communication systems, compared to other signaling systems in the animal kingdom (Fitch 2010). The rarity (in a biological perspective) of this combination of properties is an indication of the fundamentally cooperative nature of human communication (Tomasello 2008), cooperation itself being a rather special phenomenon in biology. Moreover, the specific character of human cooperation in “joint projects” (Clark 1996, 2006) gives rise to a distinction between three major types of linguistic meanings: descriptive, deictic, and what we may call modal or argumentative meaning (negation being a prototype of the latter). A proper construal of these three dimensions allows for an explanation of constraints on possible combinations of elements that serve different roles in one or more of the dimensions. Finally, the generality of these types of linguistic meaning may call for a reconsideration of traditional analyses and distinctions, such as the grammatical analysis of complementation (Thompson 2002, Newmeyer 2010, Verhagen 2005, 2010), or the alleged difference between performative and descriptive uses of illocutionary verbs.


Clark, Herbert (1996), Communities, commonalities, and communication. John Gumperz& Stephen Levinson (eds.),Rethinking Linguistic Relativity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.324?355.

Clark, Herbert H. (2006). Social actions, social commitments. In: S.C. Levinson & N.J. Enfield (Eds.) Roots of human sociality: Culture, cognition, and human interaction. Oxford: Berg Press, p.126-150.

Fitch, W. Tecumseh (2010), The Evolution of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Newmeyer, Frededrick J. (2010), What conversational English tells us about the nature of grammar:A critique of Thompson’s analysis of object complements.In: Kasper Boye and Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen (eds.), Language Usage and Language Structure. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton, p.3-43.

Thompson, Sandra A. (2002), “Object complements” and conversation: towards a realistic account.Studies in Language 26: 125-164.

Tomasello, Michael (2008), Origins of Human Communication. MIT Press.

Verhagen, Arie (2005), Constructions of Intersubjectivity. Discourse, Syntax, and Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Verhagen, Arie (2010), Usage, structure, scientific explanation, and the role of abstraction, by linguists and by language users. In: Kasper Boye and Elisabeth Engberg-Pedersen (eds.), Language Usage and Language Structure. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton, p.45-72.

2. Linguistic tools for mind reading in narratives

23. května, 10:50, m. č. 300

Narratives often involve complex relationships between what characters think about the knowledge and feelings of others, including their assumptions about other characters’ viewpoints, and are thus are regularly adduced as evidence for the specific human capacity of ‘multiple-order intentionality’ (Dennett 1987, Zunshine 2006, Dunbar 2008, Corballis 2011). Evolutionary Psychologists (cf. Barkow et al. 1992) postulate.one or several, less or more domain-specific, adaptations in the big and powerful human brain as directly responsible for this ability, as well as for its apparent limitations (a maximum level of five or six orders of embedding of mind-states).

However, a plausible alternative explanation is that languages provide tools (i.e. culturally evolved ones) by means of which ‘mind reading’, including elaborate cases, can be performed (cf. Dancygier 2012). Firstly, I will critically examine, from a (cross)linguistic perspective, different narrative representations of complex viewpoint relations (such as Direct, Indirect and Free Indirect Discourse), concluding that these can at best only be construed in language-specific ways. Secondly, in a case study of reports on the shooting of by the South-African athlete Pistorius, I will show how complex viewpoint configurations can be introduced into a narrative holistically (without the complexity being constructed). Through these, it seems that mind reading may, in specific cases, attain arbitrarily many levels.


Corballis, M.C. (2011). The Recursive Mind. The Origins of Human Language, Thought, and Civilization. Princeton: Princeton UP.

Barkow, J.H., L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (ed.). (1992). The Adapted Mind: Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Oxford/New York: Oxford UP.

Dancygier, B. (2012). The Language of Stories. A Cognitive Approach. New York: Cambridge UP.

Dennett, D. C. (1987). The Intentional Stance. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Dunbar, R.I.M. (2008). ‘Mind the Gap or Why Human Aren’t Just Great Apes’. In: Proceedings of the British Academy 154: 403-23.

Kinderman, P., R.I.M. Dunbar & R.P. Bentall(1998). ‘Theory-of-mind deficits and causal attributions’. British Journal of Psychology 89: 191-204.

Zunshine, L. (2006). Why We Read Fiction. Theory of Mind and the Novel.New York

3. The Proper Place of Conventionality in an Ethological Approach to Language

24. května, 12:30, m. č. 300

Conventionality is a general property of relationships between form and meaning in human languages, but views may differ strongly on how special this property is, and what role it plays in the explanation of linguistic phenomena.This is true for both different evolutionary accounts of the origin of language and different theories of grammar. On the basis of the insight that languages are culturally evolving sets of patterns of communicative behavior (cf. Croft 2000, and Van Trijp’s lectures earlier in this series), I argue that Tinbergen’s (1963) model for explanation in ethology (=behavioral biology) is applicable to linguistics, and that the proper construal of the difference between ‘proximate’ and ‘ultimate’ explanations is crucial. This allows us to distinguish the roles of ‘conventions’, ‘norms’ as social phenomena, resulting from the specific human form of cooperative communication, on the one hand, and ‘routines’, ‘entrenchment’ as individual phenomena on the other. Recognizing these differences in Tinbergen’s framework, thus taking ‘population thinking’ in linguistics seriously, sheds light on the nature of the error in the idea that the object of linguistictheory is a ‘representative’ (Langacker 2008: 30) or ‘ideal’ speaker-listener (Chomsky 1965: 3), and on the relationship between so-called ‘E-language’ and‘I-language’ (or ‘I-grammar’).


Chomsky, Noam (1965),Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Croft, William (2000), Explaining Language Change. Harlow: Longman.

Langacker, Ronald W. (2008),Cognitive grammar. A Basic Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Tinbergen, Niko (1963), On aims and methods of ethology. Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie 20: 410-433.

Lesley Milroy, Faculty of Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics, University of Oxford (18. dubna–22. dubna)

Pozvánka na přednášku: Lesley Milroy

Lesley Milroy,Faculty of Linguistics, Philology & Phonetics, University of Oxford. Odborné zaměření: socioligvistika, jazykové ideologie, konverzační analýza, dialektologie, bilingvismus1.Variationist approaches to language change

18. dubna, 17:30, m. č. 300

This lecture forms a critical introduction to the goals and methods of Labovian (quantitative) sociolinguistics, where it is assumed that the seeds of linguistic change lie in variation. The “structured heterogeneity” of spoken language is therefore seen as a key to observing linguistic change in progress. Drawing on English language data from the 16th/17th we look at two grammatical changes which have (almost?) gone to completion. We then turn to examples of phonological variation and change in progress in contemporary English. The conceptualization of social variables and their role in change is explored, and major issues are identified for more detailed discussion in Lectures 2 and 3.

2. “Off the shelf” and “under the counter”: why are some sound changes more accessible than others?

19. dubna, 10:50, m. č. 300

Variationist (Labovian) theory has traditionally treated sound change as a unitary phenomenon. In this presentation, I examine the contrasting structural characteristics and different sociologies underlying two different types of sound change – those which are relatively accessible to a large number of speakers versus those which diffuse within a socially and geographically more limited domain. An initial conceptual distinction is required between local/“under the counter” changes which require local support and participation, and supralocal/“off the shelf” changes. Both types are socially embedded but the latter type does not require the support of local networks/constant primary interaction to support learning and is therefore more generally accessible. The apparently greater cognitive accessibility of such change is discussed, but distinguishing different types of change in terms of how “easy” or “difficult” they are is found to be a complex task.

3. Wales and whales, Italy and bitterly, Smith and sniff: language ideologies and phonological change

22. dubna, 17:30, m. č. 200

The focus here is on the relationship between ideological (attitudinal) change and phonological change, referring to frameworks developed within linguistic anthropology. The more familiar analytic methods of variationist sociolinguistics, with its focus on social variables, are re-examined. I draw attention to discourses of race and class, purity and strength versus corruption, weakness and decay. Linguistic examples include (a) patterns of variation and change over many centuries, with reference to the w/wh merger and distinction in the UK and Canada; (b) changing ideologies of non-prevocalic /r/ in the US, England and Scotland and (c) local ideologies in contemporary Glasgow associated with de-rhoticization, w/wh merging and th- fronting by young working class speakers

Balthasar Bickel, University of Zürich (16. 4.–17.4.)

Pozvánka na přednášku: Balthasar Bickel

Balthasar Bickel, University of Zürich. Odborné zaměření: diverzita jazyků světa, měření diverzity (hledání parametrů pro kvantifikaci), typologické variace ve zpracování gramatických vztahů1. Distributional Typology: a probabilistic approach to linguistic universals and areal diffusion

úterý 16. dubna, 17:30. m. č. 300

Over the past two decades, linguistic typology has been moving increasingly away from its original goal of classifying languages into ideal types that would be constrained by categorical universals. What has been emerging as a new paradigm instead starts from the distribution of structures in the world, asking “what’s where why?” I present here a concrete approach to this question, called ‘Distributional Typology’. The approach starts from causal theories on the forces that affect language change, from processing preferences to the historical contingencies of language contact. The predictions of these theories can then be tested against fine-grained matrices of cross-linguistic diversity, using statistical methods for estimating diachronic trends from synchronic distributions.

2. Government vs. agreement in typological perspective

středa 17. dubna, 12:30, m. č. 18

Case government and verb agreement operate along fundamentally similar mechanisms: both rely on selecting and separating specific argument sets, e.g. subject vs. object sets, and both share the function of signalling dependency relations (Lehmann 1988). Also, both mechanisms are open to a similar range of cross-linguistic variation, e.g. both can be sensitive to referential properties or to co-argument properties. Given all these similarities, one would expect that the worldwide distributions of government and agreement are statistically interlocked. This expectation is not empirically supported. Instead, the distribution of both is chiefly driven by deep-time areal diffusion processes, while the distribution of case is in addition affected by word order conditions (as already proposed by Hawkins). These findings suggest that government and agreement are more independent of each other than is traditionally assumed. Further support for this conclusion form the fact the histories of the two phenomena tend to be subject to radically different factors.

Sabine Stoll, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology; University of Zürich (15.4.–16.4.)

Pozvánka na přednášku: Sabine Stoll

Sabine Stoll, Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology, University of Zürich. Odborné zaměření: Osvojování jazyka (Komparace osvojování typologicky různých jazyků)1. Comparative language acquisition research: some new methods

pondělí 15. dubna, 17:20. m. č. 18

One of the most under-researched areas in language acquisition research is how children cope with the variation exhibited in the approximately 7000 languages spoken today. Children learn any language they grow up with adapting to the structures of their language/s no matter how complex or idiosyncratic they are. To find out about potentially universal learning mechanisms we need a sample of languages which is representative of the variation exhibited in the languages of the world. In this talk I will first introduce a new sampling method of languages, which allows us to study how children cope with the conditions of variation in maximally diverse languages. Second, I will present some new methods to measure development in longitudinal data across languages. These measurements are illustrated with three case studies on: (i) how to measure the development of related variables in development? (ii) how to determine stages in development? (iii) how to determine productivity?

2. Learning argument structure with strong variation: item-specificity and conversational interaction

úterý 16. dubna, 14:10, m. č. 18

One of the earliest tasks in language acquisition is to find out how participants of an event are expressed in a clause, i.e. which argument corresponds to which semantic role. Most research on the acquisition of languages with accusative alignment has shown that the mapping of semantic roles to argument is a very early achievement. The tasks of children learning languages with ergative case marking are presumably more challenging because they are not confronted with a uniform semantic notion of agent, but rather have the same marking for the intransitive subject and the object of a transitive verb, at least under some conditions. In this talk I will discuss the differences in the distributions of the ergative case between children acquiring Chintang (Sino-Tibetan, Nepal) and their surrounding adults. The study is based on a longitudinal corpus of four children learning Chintang. Ergative marking in Chintang is conditioned by person and there are only few conditions when the ergative is obligatory. I will show that from early on there are no differences in the frequency distributions between adults and children. Further, similar to the adults, children from early on use a variety of different functions associated with the ergative case marker. However, closer inspection of the immediate context in which the ergatives are used in conversations shows that in the earliest phases children are much more lexically specific in their uses of ergatives than adults. Further they mainly repeat ergatives which adults have used before. Either children repeat the ergative exactly or they use an ergative with a different host used by the interlocutor before. Only later in development we find more truly spontaneous uses, i.e. instances in which the child uses an ergative but the interlocutors have not yet used an ergative shortly before.

Remi van Trijp, Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paříž (2.–4. 4.)

Pozvánka na přednášku: Remi van Trijp (PDF)

Remi van Trijp, Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paříž. Odborné zaměření: osvojování a vývoj jazyka u inteligentních robotů1. Evolutionary Linguistics and Fluid Construction Grammar

úterý 2. dubna, 17:20, m. č. 300

How do languages emerge? How do they evolve? These questions are among the great unsolved mysteries of mankind, and they form a fundamental scientific challenge.

This first lecture introduces Evolutionary Linguistics, a young but thriving research field that investigates the cognitive mechanisms and cultural processes that underlie language evolution. A theory of cultural language evolution rests on two biologically inspired concepts that are applied to the domain of language: (a) linguistic selectionism, which involves processes that create variation in a population (e.g. reanalysis, schematization) and processes that select some variants to become dominant (e.g. communicative success, cognitive effort, social conformity); and (b) self-organization, which occurs when speakers and listeners align their communication systems during their linguistic interactions, and which explains how an entire speech community may converge on novel linguistic conventions without central control.

This lecture also introduces Fluid Construction Grammar (FCG), which embodies the grammatical component of a theory of cultural language evolution. FCG has been explicitly designed to allow linguists to write a computationally precise account of linguistic knowledge, processing, acquisition and evolution. It is available as an open source software tool at www.fcg-net.org.

2. Language Games as an Integrating Experimental Paradigm

středa 3. dubna, 15:50, m. č. 300

Evolutionary linguistics hypothesizes that the key to explaining “language systems” (i.e. grammatical paradigms) is to understand their function in communication. Taking a cognitive-functional view, a language system can be considered as a particular solution to a complex problem, so explanations need to take into account the nature of the problem, the biological and cognitive endowment of the language user, the social relations between language users, and the context in which communication takes place. This second lecture focuses on an experimental paradigm called “Language Games” that integrates all these aspects of language usage.

Language games involve embodied language users that communicate with each other about real-world actions and objects. In order to be successful at the game, a complete processing model needs to be implemented, including sensorimotor processing, conceptualization and interpretation, and production and parsing. The first part of this lecture illustrates the paradigm through a computational reconstruction of German for the domains of space and argument structure. The second part of the lecture shows how these processing models can then be exploited for explaining attested cases of language change.

3. Language Strategies and Language Evolution

čtvrtek 4. dubna, 15:50, m. č. 18

How can new language systems develop from scratch? While the second lecture discussed experiments in which a population of artificial language users starts with a reconstructed language, this final lecture tackles experiments in which these agents start without a conceptual and linguistic inventory. Instead, they are endowed with “language strategies”, including operators for learning and invention, and they have to self-organize a shared communication system without central control. The lecture discusses three experiments in the domain of color, space and grammatical case.

Kerstin Fischer, University of Southern Denmark (25.–27. 3.)

Pozvánka na přednášku: Kerstin Fischer (PDF)

Kerstin Fischer působí jako docentka na University of Southern Denmark. Odborné zaměření: konstrukční gramatika, konverzační analýza1. Conversation Analysis and Construction Grammar: The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

pondělí 25. března, 14:10, m. č. 18

Recent developments in grammatical theory seem to invite an integration of grammar and interaction; nevertheless, there are reservations on both sides. While some of these reservations can be traced to misconceptions, others are deeply rooted in the theoretical premises of each approach. The differences are, however, not very well understood; especially theoretical premises regarding the role of cognition in language use have been hindering a fruitful collaboration. I argue that a clarification of the differences and similarities can pave the way to a very promising cooperation.

2. A Radical Construction Grammar Approach to Discourse and Modal Particles

úterý 26. března, 17:30, m. č. 300

Discourse particles are highly polyfunctional: On the one hand, individual particles can fulfill different functions in different contexts, on the other, individual occurrences fulfill several different functions at the same time. Moreover, many discourse particles have ‘homonyms’ in the class of modal particles. Now, somehow the speakers and hearers of a language must be able to interpret occurrences of discourse and modal particles nevertheless, and the perspective taken here is that much information is in fact stored in the constructions in which discourse and modal particles occur, rather than in the items themselves. I therefore suggest a construction grammatical approach, which focuses on surface generalizations and which deals with constructions as language-specific primitives (Croft 2001). I outline how such an approach allows us to compare discourse and modal particles cross-linguistically.

3. Is Register a Part of Grammar? The Case of the so-called Simplified Registers

středa 27. března, 15:50, m. č. 300

Speech to children is characterized by certain well-defined characteristics by means of which caregivers adjust their speech to the language-learning child, at least within certain societies. Child-directed speech has therefore been described as a simplified register (e.g. Ferguson 1975). Some researchers have furthermore suggested that child-directed speech constitutes a primary register that has secondary uses, for instance, for talking to foreigners, pets or loved ones (e.g. Ferguson 1982, De Paulo & Coleman 1986). In such a case, register may well be part of the linguistic knowledge of a speech community and thus part of grammar. In my talk, I address to what extent robot-directed speech makes use of features of child-directed speech – and thus whether there is a secondary use of the simplified register. However, all evidence shows that speakers rather make functional choices on the basis of their current perception of the situation, and thus that the notion of register takes at best an external view on a speech situation, yet is not a useful characterization of speakers’ linguistic knowledge.

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