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Place, landscape, and language -

Program and Abstracts

Faculty Club Huize Heyendael, Geert Grooteplein-Noord 9, Nijmegen

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Thursday 18 April, 2013

9:00-9:30

Introduction and welcome

Niclas Burenhult & Nick Enfield
9:30-10:10

Place references in story launchings

Mark Dingemanse, Simeon Floyd & Giovanni Rossi
10:10-10:50

Language, landscape, and geographical information systems: a methodological perambulation

Love Eriksen
10:50-11:20 MORNING TEA
11:20-12:00

Place references in the discourse of a Suruí shaman (Tupian, Amazonia)

Cédric Yvinec
12:00-12:40

River deep, mountain high: landscape compounds in Övdalian

Felix Ahlner
12:40-1:40 LUNCH (provided for speakers and discussants)
1:40-2:20

Between Places and Non-Places: Directionality distinctions as a parameter and a methodological tool

Konrad Rybka
2:20-3:00

Landmarks and placements: Learning the system

Eve V. Clark
3:00-3:20 AFTERNOON TEA
3:20-4:00

‘Where?’ question sequences in Duna (Trans New Guinea)

Lila San Roque

 

 

Friday 19 April, 2013

9:00-9:40

Landscape categorization in Umpila and Kuuku Ya’u (Cape York Peninsula, Australia)

Clair Hill
9:40-10:20

Referring to places outside the village in Kri, a Vietic language of Laos

Nick Enfield
10:20-10:50 MORNING TEA
10:50-11:30

The social landscape: Place names in Makalero (East Timor)

Juliette Huber
11:30-12:10

Getting around place name taboos in Murrinh-Patha

Joe Blythe
12:10-1:20 LUNCH (provided for speakers and discussants)
1:20-2:00

The pragmatic nature of Frames of Reference in the gestural modality

Connie de Vos

(IS Interpreter present)

2:00-2:40

Repairing Place Reference in Argentine Sign Language (LSA)

Elizabeth Manrique

(IS Interpreter present)

2:40-3:10 AFTERNOON TEA
3:10-3:50

Landscape preference in cross-cultural perspective

Caroline Hägerhäll & Åsa Ode Sang
3:50-4:30

Features, places and motion in the Jahai landscape (Austroasiatic, Malay Peninsula)

Niclas Burenhult
4:30-5:10 General discussion

 

Abstracts (in alphabetical order according to first named author)

 

River deep, mountain high: Landscape compounds in Övdalian

Felix Ahlner (12:00, Thursday)

My talk is about landscape vocabulary in Övdalian, a Northern Germanic vernacular spoken in central Sweden. I look at which semantic distinctions are made in the monolexemic nouns, and how the semantics is affected when these words occur in compounds.

 

 

Getting around place name taboos in Murrinh Patha direction giving

Joe Blythe (11:30, Friday)

 

In Wadeye in northern Australia, Murrinh-Patha speakers extend person naming restrictions to places. In this talk I examine some of the strategies that speakers use to convey an intended destination when restrictions on personal names deem the names of places inappropriate to mention. I will be drawing on data from both spontaneous conversation and a location identification task that exploits these naming restrictions.

 

Features, places, and motion in the Jahai landscape (Austroasiatic, Malay Peninsula)

Niclas Burenhult (3:50, Friday)

In this talk I will first outline the major linguistic resources relevant to landscape categorisation among the Jahai, a group of subsistence foragers in the mountain rainforests of northern Peninsular Malaysia speaking an Aslian (Austroasiatic) language. These categories include e.g. common nouns, place names, motion verbs, positional verbs, and deictics. I will then describe ways of recording such categories in a GIS and propose a methodological framework for studying how they are used in Jahai communication.

 

 

Landmarks and placements: Learning the system

Eve V. Clark (2:20, Thursday)

Infants, young children, and even adults rely on clear preferences for spatial organization and motion in space when they do not (yet) understand the language being used. To what extent are such preferences universal, and what role do they play as children learn how to talk about space in different languages?  Do such preferences reflect the most frequently occurring placement episodes? And to what extent do they ‘match’ specific linguistic encodings of space within and across languages? In this talk, I will present evidence relevant to understanding the role perceptual-conceptual preferences play as children learn to ‘think for speaking’ about spatial relations.

 

 

The pragmatic nature of Frames of Reference in the gestural modality

Connie de Vos (1:20, Friday, IS Interpreter present)

 

The visual-gestural modality allows signers to place the hands in signing space in order to iconically represent spatial relationships. Due to their sign-spatial nature, bimanual expressions that represent spatial arrays may in principle be interpreted in analogy to any of the three Frames of Reference (FoR). These types of signed Figure-Ground descriptions are called simultaneous classifier constructions (SCCs); and studies have revealed a striking similarity across sign languages in their use. Furthermore, interlocutors that perceive SCCs, consistently perform a mental rotation in reconstructing a scene, taking the sign-producer's perspective as a vantage point. This study presents data that challenges the assumption of the uniformity of SCCs. Elicited signed dialogues from a Balinese sign language called Kata Kolok (KK) show that KK sign-producers generally foreground spatial relations between elements of a scene being described, but generally background their own view of the scene.  Moreover, in contrast to the cross-linguistic pattern, KK sign-comprehenders consistently reconstructed the array absolutely rather than performing a mental rotation of it. Despite the affordances of the visual-gestural modality, sign languages thus appear to structure space in radically different, but typologically constrained ways. Adopting the rotation paradigm to elicit locally-entrenched narratives, it is also shown that KK sign-producers may not be held accountable for the absolute orientation of their simultaneous classifier constructions when interlocuters are aware of the lack of reliable spatial information. In my view, the later finding demonstrates the essentially pragmatic nature of FoR in the gestural modality.

 

Place references in story launchings

Mark Dingemanse, Simeon Floyd & Giovanni Rossi (9:30, Thursday)

Stories in conversation often start with references to time, person, and location. We examine the role of place references in story launchings in three different cultures. We find that while any type of place reference can help signal that a story is coming up, different types of place references project different kinds of stories. The rich information evoked by place references makes them an excellent linguistic resource to do scene-setting for the narrated world.

 

Referring to places outside the village in Kri, a Vietic language of Laos

Nick Enfield (9:40, Friday)

In this talk I report on initial findings of a study of the way in which speakers of Kri—a Vietic language of upland central Laos—talk about places around their village in everyday conversation. I want to discuss some ways in which the facts of everyday place reference raise some core issues concerning lexical semantics and the pragmatic affordances of information in the context of a linguistic system. After some background on the Kri language and its speakers, the talk has two sections in which I discuss the relevance of some observations about Kri place reference to broader issues. The first issue concerns Kri speakers’ occasional practice of making place references using tree species names: this is of relevance to a fundamental yet still unsolved debate between ‘intellectualist’ versus ‘utilitarian’ views of linguistic categorization, and I will argue that the data suggest a way to resolve that debate. The second issue concerns the different density and type of information encoded in the different strategies for place reference provided in the Kri language: demonstratives versus place names versus topological references versus landscape terms, etc. A basic conceptual argument grounded in issues of markedness and relevance makes certain predictions about the fit of different linguistic strategies to different pragmatic functions. Initial data observations are discussed, before the talk concludes with a summary and statement of the challenges for continuation of this research.

 

Language, landscape, and geographical information systems: A methodological perambulation

Love Eriksen (10:10, Thursday)

This presentation introduces geographical tools used in a comparative exploration of geographical ontologies across human languages and landscapes. The talk presents the hardware and software of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and discusses methodological advantages and obstacles in the process of introducing these into field linguistics.

 

Landscape preference in cross-cultural perspective

Caroline Hägerhäll & Åsa Ode Sang (3:10, Friday)

Within landscape preference research there is a much supported claim that similarities in response to natural scenes outweigh the differences across individuals, groups and cultures. However, the evidence is almost exclusively based on homogenous samples consisting of WEIRD respondents. This study gave us an opportunity to test and challenge this through access to different population set.  We will present a pilot study of landscape preference carried out for 4 different groups of respondents, Jahai, Makalero, Swedish (linguistics students) and Swedish (landscape architecture students).

 

Landscape categorization in Umpila and Kuuku Ya’u (Cape York Peninsula, Australia)

Clair Hill (9:00, Friday)

Title: Landscape categorisation in Umpila and Kuuku Ya’u (CYP, Australia) Abstract: In this paper, I will examine the nature and integrity of landscape as a semantic domain in Umpila and Kuuku Ya’u (CYP Australia), including some comment on the wider Australia socio-linguistic context within which this language is situated. The discussion will highlight how the categorisation of places and landscapes are inextricably interwoven with the classification of plants, animals and people, and with human utility and belief systems. The presentation is organised around the exploration of a conversation between Umpila/Kuuku Ya’u speakers during a car journey from their current residence to the original mission settlement where they were born and grew up. This conversation provides multiple insights into the construction and use of landscape and place vocabulary in Umpila/Kuuku Ya’u.

 

The social landscape: Place names in Makalero

Juliette Huber (10:50, Friday)

Place names in Makalero, a Papuan language of East Timor, are intimately connected to clan structure and as such lie at the base of social organization. In this talk, I examine place names from a variety of angles: After a survey of common patterns in form and meaning, I address the question of their distinguishability from common nouns and noun phrases. Finally, I look at parallel place names, a strategy for disambiguating the reference of non-distinctive place names.

 

Repairing place reference problems in Argentine Sign Language (LSA)

Elizabeth Manrique (2:00, Friday, IS Interpreter present)

The aim of this presentation is to show the linguistic and pragmatic resources that participants use during informal conversation to signal and fix difficulties understanding reference to places in Argentine Sign Language (LSA). This study reports the results of analysis of conversational videotaped data obtained from a deaf community in the City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, that were analyzed in the framework of the conversational phenomenon of other initiations of repair (OIR) in conversation analysis (CA). It approaches the phenomenon as intrinsically related to intersubjectivity in understanding.

 

Between Places and Non-Places: Directionality distinctions as a parameter and a methodological tool

Konrad Rybka (1:40, Thursday)

That languages have grammatical means distinguishing Places from Non-Places does not come as a surprise (cf. English referring rules with there and it). What makes a Place and how such grammatical distinctions operate are, however, questions that still need to be thoroughly investigated. In this exploratory presentation, I use data from Lokono, an Arawakan language, to show that Places and Non-Places form a continuum that even within one language can be cut up differently depending on the primary (Location, Goal, Source) and secondary (telic, atelic) directional distinctions. I use the resulting mismatching categorizations to shed light on the parameters underlying the continuum and on the link between directionality and Place/Non-Place denoting nouns itself.

 

‘Where?’ question sequences in Duna (Trans New Guinea)

Lila San Roque (3:20, Thursday)

In a range of languages, ‘where?’ is one of the most frequent content questions, and among the earliest interrogative pro-forms learnt by children. In some languages, ‘where’ words are also versatile, providing the base interrogative form for other questions such as ‘which’ and ‘how’. In this talk I discuss a parallel versatility of ‘where’ questions: the diverse ways they appear to be used and responded to in conversation. I present data from Duna and Tok Pisin (Hela Province, Papua New Guinea) which suggest that ‘where’ interrogatives can be interpreted as having a wide variety of informational and social goals. Are questions that are (ostensibly) about places especially flexible in this regard, and if so, why?

 

Place references in the discourse of a Suruí shaman (Tupian, Amazonia)

Cédric Yvinec (11:20, Thursday)

On the basis of two different kinds of discourse of a Suruí shaman (conversations and ritual songs), I will analyze the function of references to places and landscape features when referring to an “imaginary” world, that of shamanic spirits, which the audience of shamanic speech cannot usually know. I will address two questions. First, from a cognitive point of view, how can shamans use spatial references to structure their discourse? Secondly, from a communicational point of view, for the shaman, what use is referring to places that the audience cannot know, in order to be recognized as a competent shaman?

Last checked 2016-03-02 by Lila San Roque

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