Discourse Cohesive Means in Acquisition

Location: Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
Date: 11.-13.3.2012
Contact: Dagmar Bittner, Nadja Kuehn
Meeting Website: http://www.zas.gwz-berlin.de/workshop_dicma.html

Meeting Description

Telling others about complex events, impressions, and thoughts in a coherent manner is a very demanding task for children up to their teenage years, and, though less obvious, understanding complex texts produced by others is just as demanding. The richness, diversity, and complexity of the pragmatic and linguistic devices that have to be followed in order to produce and comprehend a coherent discourse make this arguably one of the most challenging tasks in language acquisition. Children have to figure out the structure and content of the macro-parts, i.e. who is acting where and when, what happened and what follows from what happened. In addition, there is a broad range of linguistic means of discourse cohesion which are, at least partially, interacting with each other. Most of them are linked to pragmatic interpretations and to the internal non-linguistic knowledge and emotional states of the communication partner(s).   

The conference will address the micro-level of discourse structure and present current research on the acquisition of the various phenomena that ensure coherence in discourse. In order to open our eyes to the complexity of the domain and the possible interactions between the diverse phenomena, we invite papers investigating children’s development into discourse coherence from all angles and perspectives. Currently, the main body of research focuses on referential expressions with respect to e.g. the introduction and maintenance of referents, topic-sensitivity, and anaphoric capacity. More recently, the role of coherence relations expressed by different types of connectors and the impact of verb semantics in discourse continuation have become of interest. However, apart from the early studies from the 1980s, not much work has been done on time reference and tense/aspect chains in discourse. Little is known about the influence of epistemic, modal, and several other types of expressions. The same holds for the influence of context information, the impact of prosodic information, and the treatment of focus.

The conference provides the opportunity to discuss the broad range of discourse cohesive means and the methods of their investigation from different theoretical perspectives. We especially encourage the presentation of papers focusing on the following aspects: 

  • correlations and interactions between different types of discourse cohesive means
  • correlations between discourse cohesive means and non-linguistic phenomena such as emotional states, discourse context, etc.
  • the role of theory of mind
  • the acquisition of pragmatic implicatures in the use of discourse cohesive means
  • acquisitional milestones and paths in the development of discourse abilities
  • processing of discourse cohesive means
  • the interaction of discourse cohesive means with parameters of information structure
  • acquisition in mono- and bilingual children as well as in SLI children

Invited speakers

Jacqueline Evers-Vermeul
Juhani Järvikivi
Tom Roeper

Call for papers

Abstracts of max. 500 words (not including references) should be sent as a pdf-file by the 19th of September 2011 to the contact address that will be announced at the end of July on the conference homepage. Please provide name(s) of author(s) and affiliation(s) in the text of the email and do not mention it in the abstract file.