Tuesday, April 18, 2017

An upcoming conference of some importance

Angel Gallego and Dennis Ott are running a kind of Athens II on the future of GG (I assume that syntax is the main focus, but I could be wrong). Here is the website. Unlike Athens which aimed to get graybeards talking about the state of play, this conference is aimed at the up and comers. I hope that they have better success than we did. I think Athens did a credible job at identifying where we have come from and what we have (sorta) accomplished. However, I do not think that a clear future direction emerged and, IMO, the confab left me with the impression that the field takes theoretical syntax as something very much to be avoided. My lasting impression is that the consensus view was that Minimalism has largely been a failure and that any work that does not resemble what we have always done is not really worth doing. In short, I found the whole thing, in retrospect, quite disheartening.

But, forget the once bitten twice shy thing. Gallego and Ott are going to give it another try, this time with people with more skin in the game; namely younger up and comers.  This is a great idea and I hope they fare better than we did. Here is the "manifesto."

For the last sixty years, Generative Grammar (GG) has been the dominant approach in the formal study of human language within the cognitive sciences. Building on classical ideas developed in a new context, GG provided the basis for a new wave of investigations that gave rise to significant theoretical and empirical discoveries, establishing a fertile ground for synergies with other disciplines.
This workshop extends an invitation, especially -- but not exclusively -- to young researchers to pause and reflect on the current state of the field.
  • Have the recent developments yielded a corresponding increase in the explanatory depth of the theory? 
  • Has cross-fertilization with other theories beneffited the research?
  • Where have we made real progress and what questions should most urgently be addressed?

The workshop will be structured around the contributions of a number of invited participants who will submit a position paper ahead of time and give short informal talks, which will serve to kickstart open discussion.

Students of all levels as well as professional linguists of any persuasion are encouraged to actively participate in the event, either in person or by using other modes of communication.
Based on these and other questions of this general kind, our goal is to assess where we are headed, why there, and what the best way is of getting there (or nearby).

Note that all are invited and also note that I am willing to bet that Barcelona in June is quite delightful. So the venue should be conducive to real interesting discussion. If I get hold of the position papers I will link to them here at FoL. So go, argue and let's make progress.