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January 28-30, 2021

University of Tübingen, Germany

Theoretical and Experimental Approaches to Modification

Linguistic Fields: General Linguistics; Psycholinguistics

Call for Papers

Modification constitutes a field of linguistic research at the interfaces of syntax, semantics, and discourse. Modification poses significant challenges to linguistic theory because modifiers (e.g., adverbs) demonstrate a level of flexibility in syntactic distribution that is not reminiscent of any other syntactic category. It is for this reason that the relation between word order and interpretation of modified structures is a question that is widely discussed (see e.g., Jackendoff, 1972; Jackendoff, 1974; Dowty et al., 1981; Larson, 1998; Landman 2001; Frey, 2003; McNally & Boleda, 2004; Morzycki, 2005; Morzycki, 2006; Wyner 2006; Ernst, 2014).

Furthermore, the question arises how order variation of modifiers is reflected in language processing. Despite the abundance of theoretical studies on modification, experimental work in psycholinguistics started only recently to focus on these issues. Nevertheless, some general characteristics emerge from existing psycholinguistic work. Studies on syntactic processing suggest that adjuncts are processed differently than arguments (Clifton, Speer, & Abney, 1991; Liversedge, Pickering, Branigan, & van Gompel, 1998). Looking at recent experimental data and computational work on processing of adverbials and adjectives (e.g., Hahn et al., 2018; Franke et al. 2019; Scontras, Degen & Goodman, 2017; Störzer & Stolterfoht, 2013, 2018; Stolterfoht, Gauza, & Störzer, 2019), it appears that models of adjunct processing (e.g., Construal; Frazier & Clifton Jr., 1995; Frazier & Clifton Jr., 1997) cannot capture the whole range of results. It seems that the processing of adjuncts requires a multifactorial explanation in which syntactic, semantic, and information structural factors are integrated.

The workshop aims at bringing together researchers working on theoretical approaches to the interplay of syntax, semantics and information structure in modification, and psycholinguists concerned with the processing of adjectives, adverbials, adjunct clauses etc. to discuss new directions in modelling the interpretation and processing of modification.