Theme Session / Workshop



Facultad de Filología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid,

6-8 October 2014

Workshop convenors:
Dylan Glynn (LAPS, University of Paris VIII)
Paola Pietrandrea (University of Tours & CNRS LLL)



Submissions are invited for 20 minutes talks + 10 min. discussion.
Abstracts of 300 words (excluding references) are invited.
Please make sure the abstract contains a clear summary of the research question, the data and method and (prospective) results.
The language of the workshop will be English.

Abstract submission deadline: 25 April 2014
Notification of acceptance by the workshop convenors: 25 May 2014
Notification of acceptance by the conference organisers: 26 May 2014
Papers accepted for oral presentation due by 5 September 2014

Call Information

This workshop seeks to bring together the research traditions of computational linguistics, corpus linguistics and typology in the study of modality (deontic, epistemic, evidential). More specifically, the categorisation / annotation of the different modal phenomena and the various factors with which they interact is a fundamental concern for all three approaches. Collaboration of such concerns cross the theoretical and methodological divisions and our insights from different perspectives should be to the benefit of all.

Within the computational tradition, as pointed out by Nissim et al. (2013), recent years have witnessed the development of annotation schemes and annotated corpora for different aspects of modality in different languages (McShane et al. (2004); Wiebe et al. (2005); Szarvas et al. (2008); Sauri and Pustejovsky (2009); Hendrickx et al. (2012); Baker et al.(2012)). While there have been efforts towards finding a common avenue for modality annotation, such as the CoNLL-2010 Shared Task, ACL thematic workshops and a special issue of Computational Linguistics (Morante and Sporleder (2012)), the computational linguistics community is still far from having developed working, shared standards for converting modality-related issues into annotation categories.

A similar state of affairs holds for the immense quantity of research in the corpus-driven tradition in modality research where the where functionally determined annotation schemas have long been the focus of debate Most of the research in this tradition has focused on the operationalisation of the manually annotated categories, but recent years have seen the growth methods that employ inter-coder agreement measures and predictive statistical modeling. Key references include, but are not restricted to: Coates (1983); Biber & Finegan (1988, 1989); Aijmer (1997, 2013), Hunston & Thompson (1998); Krug (2000); Nuyts (2001); Mushin (2001); Tucker (2001); Scheibman (2002); Kärkkäinen (2003), Rizomilioti (2003); Facchinetti, Krug & Palmer (2003); Paradis (2003); Marín-Arrese (2004); Martin & White (2005); Simon-Vandenbergen & Aijmer (2007); Hunston (2007); Englebretson (2007); Cornillie (2007); Narrog (2008, 2012); Divjak (2010); Diewald & Smirnova (2010a); Boye (2012); Beijering (2012); Deshors (2012); and Glynn & Sjölin (2014).

In typology, identifying and characterizing the range of modal types and their marking across the languages of the world is clearly an ongoing and immensely difficult task, which is leading towards a complete classification of modal functions and a thorough understanding of the relations holding between modal categories as well as towards an understanding of the grammatical vs. lexical nature of modal markers across languages. One such line of research where the use of corpora is gaining methodological importance is comparative linguistics. Examples of typology research in the field include: van der Auwera & Plungian (1998); Johanson & Utas (2000); Plungian (2001, 2011); Dendale & Tasmowski (2001); Squartini (2001, 2004); Aikhenvald (2004); Wiemer (2005); Wiemer & Plungjan (2008); Holvoet (2007); Xrakovskij (2007); Guentcheva & Landaburu (2007), Hansen & De Haan (2009); Boye & Harder (2009); Mortelmans et al. (2009); Boye (2010); Diewald & Smirnova (2010b, 2011); Mauri & Sanso’ (2012); and Abraham & Leiss (2013).

We invite topologists, computational linguists and corpus linguists working on in the field to join our discussion on the contribution that corpus analyses can bring to the study of modality.

Ideas for research questions include but are not limited to the following:

1. What do corpora teach us about modality? How can corpus analyses help us to refine the repertoire of modal functions? How can the analysis of (parallel) corpora help to determine cross-linguistic (typologically valid) consistency in modal categories?

2. How do we operationalise (for annotation) non-observable (functional - conceptual) modal categories? Do current annotation schemata allow for a thorough identification of the modality and evidentiality markers existing in discourse?

3. What methods exist (usage-feature analysis, sentiment analysis, latent semantic analysis etc.) for the description of modal structures?

4. What statistical instruments of analysis do we need for accounting for the distribution of modal markers in corpora?



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Aijmer, K. 2013. Analyzing modal adverbs as modal particles and discourse markers. L. Degand, B. Cornillie, P. Pietrandrea (eds.), Discourse markers and modal particles: categorization and description, 89-106. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
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