Thematic workshops

In addition to the Main Session, the following four Thematic Workshops have been scheduled.

1. “Code switching and bilingualism”

Organizers: Luis López (University of Illinois at Chicago), Antje Muntendam (Florida State University), M. Carmen Parafita Couto (Leiden University), Hans Stadthagen González (University of Southern Mississippi)

Description: Most research on code-switching/code-mixing has focused on early bilinguals, implicitly assumed to have enough competence in each language. Child and adult code-switching/code-mixing have not been extensively compared and we are only beginning to gain insight from the code-switching/code-mixing patterns and preferences that differentiate child and adult native speakers, simultaneous bilingual speakers, and second language speakers. The workshop seeks to shed new light on the longstanding issues that language acquisition raises regarding the mechanisms underlying code-switching / code-mixing.

Keynote speakers: Maria José Ezeizabarrena (University of the Basque Country), Juana Liceras (University of Ottawa and Universidad Nebrija)


2. “Grammatical processing in second language speakers:
      agreement, polarity, anaphora and other grammatical illusions”

Organizers: Carlos Acuña-Fariña (University of Santiago de Compostela), Isabel Fraga-Carou (University of Santiago de Compostela),  Iria de Dios (University of Santiago de Compostela), Paula Márquez Caamaño (University of Santiago de Compostela).

Description: The human parser is surprisingly accurate in applying the complex collection of grammatical rules. Yet, sometimes real-time linguistic processes give rise to representations that are not allowed by the grammar but are perceived as acceptable. This phenomenon is referred to as ‘grammatical illusions’ (Phillips, Wagers and Lau, 2011). The illusory perception of the linguistic input has been observed in a diverse range of structures, including verbal agreement (Pearlmutter, Garnsey, and Bock 1999; Wagers, Lau, & Phillips 2009), negative polarity items (Drenhaus et al. 2005; Vasishth et al. 2008; Xiang et al. 2009, 2013), anaphora (Parker, Lago, and Phillips 2015), comparative structures (Wellwood et al. 2012) and other dependencies. For instance, an illusion of grammaticality arises when a sentence like ‘The key to the cabinets are on the table’ (Bock & Miller, 1991) is judged as acceptable despite the fact that the morphological features of the verb do not agree with its subject. This is known as an attraction effect. Grammatical illusory phenomena have been understood as the result of constraints imposed by the structure of working memory in terms of the retrieval mechanisms that are used in order to carry out grammatical operations (Vasishth et al., 2008). Nonetheless, they also bring interesting questions on the nature of the linguistic system and the psychological status of linguistic representations in real-time. The workshop seeks to shed new light from the perspective of second language acquisition on issues that have mainly been studied in terms of adult first language processing. This shift of focus raises several questions: (a) To what extent do first and second language speakers differ in their processing of these so-called illusory structures? (b) In what ways can the grammatical processing of second language learners inform the real-time status of linguistic operations? (c) Is it possible to generalize the predictions from adult native speakers to second language proficient speakers in terms of their mental grammars? (d) What are the effects of proficiency? The workshop invites submissions on studies addressing these and other questions related to grammatical processing in second language learners.

Keynote speaker: Claudia Felser (University of Potsdam)


3. “Acquisition of Subject-Verb Agreement”

Organizer: Géraldine Legendre (Johns Hopkins University)

Description: Subject-Verb (SV) agreement is a fundamental and cross-linguistically frequent morpho-syntactic relation, which has been shown to pose significant challenges to both normally developing children (e.g. in comprehension, Johnson, de Villiers, & Seymour, 2005; Pérez-Leroux, 2005) and language-impaired children (e.g. Clahsen et al, 1997; Dromi et al., 1999; Rispens & Been, 2007). Difficulty with SV agreement has in fact been claimed to be a marker of SLI, e.g. in German (Eisenbeiss, Bartke and Clahsen, 2005/2006). There also exists experimental evidence that argues against generalizing across languages, on the basis of early acquisition of French SV agreement in normally developing children (Legendre et al., 2010, 2014) and in SLI children (Rice et al., 1997). These discrepancies bear on broader theoretical debates, in particular whether the system of knowledge underlying SV agreement is (im)mature or (un)impaired, depending on the population considered, and/or whether perceptual and processing factors are primarily responsible for the variety of empirical observations. The workshop invites submissions on studies addressing these and other questions related to SV agreement and language acquisition theory more broadly, by enlarging the cross-linguistic comparison, opening the discussion to the full range of morpho-syntactic features, targeting a variety of language acquisition contexts, and incorporating both grammar and processing perspectives.  

Keynote speaker: Géraldine Legendre (Johns Hopkins University)


4. “Formal Perspectives in the Acquisition of Minority Languages”

Organizers: Alejandro Cuza (Purdue University), Liliana Sánchez (Rutgers University) and Brechje van Osch (University of Amsterdam)

Description: Previous research with minority languages documents instances of linguistic variability, leading to lexical and morpho-syntactic asymmetries across different population types (Putnam, 2015, 2016; Sánchez, 2004; Muysken, 1989, 1995; Tonhauser, 2007, 2015). The goal of this workshop is to bring forward recent theoretical, behavioral and experimental work on the acquisition of minority languages from a formal perspective. Particularly, the workshop will discuss issues related to, but not limited to, some of the following topics:

  • Developmental asymmetries across population types.
  • Feature reassembly/reconfiguration.
  • Frequency effects and linguistic variation.
  • Early and late child bilinguals
  • L2 and heritage language development
  • Language dominance factors.
  • Community characteristics and ethnolinguistic vitality.
  • Structural complexity and surface overlap.
  • Experimental issues (elicited production vs. intuition data, socio-cultural considerations, data analysis).
  • Creoles and decreolization.

Keynote speaker: Mike Putnam (Penn State University)