Corpus-based typology: spoken language from a cross-linguistic perspective


as part of the 42nd Annual Conference of the German Linguistic Society (DGfS)

4 - 6 March 2020, University of Hamburg


Linguistic typology has traditionally taken a ʻlanguageʼ as a unit of comparison, and compared these units on the basis of features extracted from grammatical descriptions. A complementary approach involves harnessing developments in corpus linguistics and variationist sociolinguistics to cross-linguistic data. This approach, loosely termed corpus-based typology, deals with probabilistic generalizations drawn from observed language use recorded in corpora, and its object of study is a population of utterances, rather than languages as holistic artefacts. While a growing body of research from written corpus data is increasingly influential in linguistic typology (e.g. Universal Treebank initiative), in this workshop we are interested in the specific properties of spoken language, including prosodic structuring and partitioning, speech rate, interactivity and intersubjectivity, requirements of online processing, among others.          

              The workshop brings together researchers who have been advancing corpus-based research into questions of broader typological and theoretical relevance, in particular the role of different kinds of data (uncontrolled, indigenous genres vs experimentally elicited texts), methods of corpus annotation, and general issues of cross-linguistic comparability.


Workshop presentations

The said and the unsaid in social cognition: the design logic of SCOPIC, a parallax corpus(4.9 MB)
Nick Evans & Danielle Barth

Prosodic segmentation and grammatical analysis in cross-linguistic corpora(6.5 MB)
Amina Mettouchi & Martine Vanhove

Child language acquisition: the sketch acquisition project(2.4 MB)
Birigt Hellwig

Discourse contribution of naming a referent: comparative study of two languages(760.3 KB)
Pavel Ozerov

On potential statistical universals of grammar in discourse: evidence from Multi-CAST(1.5 MB)
Geoff Haig, Nils Schiborr, Stefan Schnell


Further literature

  • Himmelmann, Nikolaus. (2014). Asymmetries in the prosodic phrasing of function words: Another look at the suffixing preference. Language 90(4). 927–960.
  • Levinson, Stephen (2013). Recursion in pragmatics. Language, 89, 149-162.
  • Seifart, Frank & Jan Strunk & Swintha Danielsen & Iren Hartmann & Brigitte Pakendorf & Søren Wichmann & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich & Nivja de Jong  & Balthasar Bickel. (2018). Nouns slow down speech across structurally and culturally diverse languages. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115(22). 5720–5725.