HDLS   10th   Keynote   Abstracts

Updated Oct 1, 2012


Keynote: Paul Dudis, Gallaudet University
Title: Scope in ASL Scene Depictions
Abstract: This presentation describes recent cognitive linguistic investigations on the depictive uses of space in ASL These investigations were prompted in part by descriptive issues arising during work on depiction typology, described below. The presentation opens with a discussion of what the term depiction is intended to describe, followed by a brief review of two types of scene depictions, setting up the main issue to be addressed.

One type of scene depiction has been labeled as surrogate space by Liddell (1994, 1995, 2003), described as “a mental space in which aspects of events are grounded in the physical space that includes the signer” (Liddell 1995:30). Suggested elsewhere (e.g. Dudis 2011) is evidence that surrogate spaces can be produced to depict not only events but spatial relationships between objects as well. This necessitates a revision in the definition of surrogate space to include life-sized depiction of scenes in which spatial setting encompasses the signerʼs body. The second type of scene depiction has been labeled as a (3D) diagrammatic space (Emmorey and Falgier 1999). This could be  characterized as being a smaller-scaled scene depiction that makes use of a limited portion of space in front of the signer.

Prompting the descriptive issue are scene depictions that are life-sized but whose spatial setting does not encompass the signerʼs body, thereby complicating attempts to characterize them. Examples include depictions of the shape of life-sized objects, which can occur without indicating the locations of objects within related settings. The shape of, say, a pipe that one discovered at a location a distance up and well out of reach can be depicted in this way. This depiction employs a limited portion of space in front of the signer so that, unlike within the surrogate space, the signerʼs vantage point is excluded from the scene depiction. This is contrasted with a different instance of the verb in which the hands are raised and directed towards where the surrogate pipe is conceived to be from a vantage point (which is described in Emmorey and Falgier 1999 as the use of a high signing plane).

This particular issue is proposed here to be a matter of construal, specifically scope--which is an aspect of focusing (Langacker 2008). Scope figures in both linguistic expressions and non-linguistic experience (e.g. vision), and is “always bounded, in the abstract sense of having only limited expanse” (Langacker 2008:63). The two different instances of the pipe depiction given above are described here as differing in scope, which impacts the extent of space they utilize. This analysis leads us to consider other issues concerning scene depictions, including the structure of diagrammatic space. Another issue pertains to what has been described as direct and indirect constructed action (Metzger 1995; related phenomena also discussed in Lentz 1986 and Liddell 2003), where there is variation in the degree to which the body participates in the life-sized depictions of events.

Keynote: Jane Hill, University of Arizona
Title:  On Eloquence and Official Registers in Heritage Languages
Abstract:  Most of the effort to produce materials for second-language learners of Native American languages focuses on the needs of children and youth. However, communities often want to produce materials in "official" registers, such as tribal or band mottoes, formal invitations, texts for short speeches, and mission statements. The texts that have been provided to me for translation in such cases are all expressed in appropriate American English bureaucratic language. Often, forms of eloquence appropriate to adult registers at the time when a language was widely used in a community can be retrieved from old collections of text.  The problem I'll discuss is that of reconciling the ideologies and institutional presuppositions implicit in these old expressive forms with those implicit in the English-language adult registers preferred for official use today, in order to produce contemporary heritage-language materials that are both eloquent and usable.

Keynote: Beth Levin, Standford University
Title: Slap, Give a Slap, Slap a Slap: Crosslinguistic Diversity in Hitting Event Descriptions
Abstract: The encoding of hitting events has not received systematic crosslinguistic investigation, yet hitting verbs provide an effective counterpoint to the much-studied breaking verbs in Fillmore's (1970) well-known case study, "The Grammar of Hitting and Breaking".  This talk aims to redress the balance: I present the results of an ongoing survey of the encoding of hitting events across languages and discuss its contribution to our understanding of the principles that govern the encoding of events in language.

In English, hitting verbs stand out for their alternate realizations of the argument denoting the surface contacted: though typically expressed as an object (Smith hit his attacker), it may be expressed in a PP (Smith hit at his attacker, Smith hit a stick against the fence). Moving beyond English, available studies of hitting events reveal crosslinguistic diversity in their encoding: languages make use not only of the strategies found in English, but also additional ones.  Two observations emerge from this exploration.  First, across the languages surveyed, there is some resistance to expressing the surface as a canonical direct object, especially if its referent is inanimate.  Thus, hitting verbs contrast strikingly with breaking verbs, which across languages consistently express their patient only as a direct object when transitive.  Second, some languages express at least some part of the manner component of the event outside the verb, e.g., as the complement of a light verb or a basic hitting verb, as a cognate object, or as an ideophonic adverbial modifier.  In this talk, I focus on the second observation regarding the diverse expressions of the manner content in hitting event descriptions, exploring both its sources and consequences, and I touch on the first observation in this context.

I argue that the expression of manner, including instruments involved, outside the verb is another manifestation of a reduced manner verb inventory---a hallmark of lexical inventories previously identified in studies of the lexicalization patterns of motion events.  I consider the repercussions of encoding manner outside the verb for argument realization in the context of the theory presented in Rappaport Hovav & Levin (1998, 2005, 2010).  The varied realization of the surface, which contrasts with the uniform realization of a patient, follows because breaking verbs are result verbs, and result verbs, as verbs of scalar change, must express their patient as their object.  This restriction does not apply to hitting verbs, which as manner verbs are not verbs of scalar change, opening the door for the multiple realizations of the surface attested in English and beyond.  However, the available options may be restricted for language-specific reasons; hence, the diversity of argument realization patterns attested.  I review how some of the observed options arise from the interaction between argument realization principles and the external expression of manner.  For instance, in those languages where the manner component is expressed using a nominal denoting a tool or body part (e.g.,hit a cane/fist against X), this nominal, as a moving entity, may take precedence over the surface as direct object; as a consequence, the surface must have an oblique realization.

In concluding, I suggest that the range of encoding options available for hitting events, including both the alternative realizations of the surface and the various expressions of the hitting predicate itself, stem at least in part from the interaction of crosslinguistically applicable argument realization principles with differences in the lexical and morphosyntactic resources available to the languages under consideration.  In fact, Beavers, Levin & Tham (2010) make the same point with respect to the encoding of motion events.  Thus, independent differences among languages can hide considerable commonalities among them.