The purpose of this international workshop is to advance our understanding of how humans conceptualize events through language and how they extend the linguistic resources available for event descriptions (aspectual constructions) to new, non-temporal functions, including affective functions (expressing an emotional response to an event), evidential functions (expressing the source of evidence for a claim or the degree of likelihood of an event) and discourse-pragmatic functions (indicating causal relations among events in a text, introducing new entities into a story). It will allow scholars of linguistic cognition from a variety of backgrounds to report findings in corpus linguistics, diachronic linguistics, psycholinguistics, linguistic typology, computational modeling and child language development that will illuminate the ways in which linguistic cultures leverage the linguistic conventions devised for situation reports.
The intent of the workshop is to close a gap in linguistic scholarship. Most accounts of aspectual constructions presuppose a “temporal” meaning (that which concerns the disposition of a situation over time or its location relative to some other event or time point) as being prototypical and/or basic. Non-temporal uses, if considered at all, are typically treated as secondary and, at worst, unrelated to the temporal ones. Consequently, while we have a good picture of the range of aspectual meanings expressed by languages of the world (ranging from aspectually sensitive past tenses in Romance languages to Chinese serial verb constructions used to encode directed motion to lexically encoded event distinctions in Slavic languages) we have as yet no general picture of the ways in which temporal meanings are extended to metatextual and interpersonal functions like argumentation, affective-stance encoding and conversational practice. Developing such a picture would have implications not only for the development of semantic and pragmatic universals but also for theories of language development and change, language understanding and language practice.
Unifying temporal and non-temporal functions requires us to ask (i) how non-canonical meanings are generated from the prototypical temporal ones, and (ii) how aspectual meanings cohere with atemporal meanings of constructions—in what sense, for instance, might aspectual meaning be inherently associated with certain modes of inference, certain evaluations of situations, certain argumentative strategies, certain embodied experiences?
The workshop invites presenters to identify and analyze various types of non-canonical uses of aspectual constructions, in a variety of languages and from a variety of theoretical perspectives. The workshop specifically invites contributions that focus on new analytical tools and methods for data analysis—including data mining from digital (historical) corpora, machine learning, native-speaker consultations via large-scale survey platforms such as Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, psycholinguistic experimentation and language documentation.
A (non-exhaustive) list of possible topics includes the following:
- The relationship between event encoding and event perception.
- The relationship between temporal categories and sensory-motor simulation, as described in recent work on embodied cognition.
- The development of atemporal (e.g., modal, mirative, evidential) functions of aspectual constructions in historic time. Examples are the mirative uses of the Turkish -miş perfect, the French imparfait of politeness, whereby the temporal meaning of past ongoingness is highly backgrounded (if present at all), and counterfactual/hypothetical uses of the English distal tenses.
- “Special” contexts of use and how they may influence aspectual choice. These include performative utterances, play-by-play sports reporting, narratives, subordination, presentational inversion, negation, etc.
- The role of aspectual constructions in descriptions of the thoughts and speech of others.
- Cross-linguistically atypical aspectual constructions. What do typological ‘outliers’ tell us about the repertoire of non-temporal meanings a given construction or array of constructions can encode? Examples of such outliers include the highly polysemous Japanese -te iru construction (which is simultaneously used for the expression of progressive aspect, perfect aspect and stativity) and verbless stative constructions in Arabic used to encode obligation and necessity.
- Aspect and discourse. How aspectual constructions contribute to conversational practice (e.g., changing the topic) and narrative organization.
- The role of aspect in determining the expression of participant roles in a clause.
- The use of digital resources, computational modeling, psycholinguistic modeling and other analytical tools and methods in the identification and analysis of these non-canonical uses.
Addressing these topics is critical not only to an informed understanding of aspectual meaning but also to advances in linguistic knowledge representation, language development (both ontogenetic and phylogenetic) and natural language processing, including text understanding, sentiment detection and automated translation.