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Summer School "Limits of Variability in Language"

18. - 22. June 2018

The summer school is organized by the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre SFB 1287 “Limits of Variability in Language: Cognitive, Grammatical, and Social Aspects“. The school will bring together leading international experts from different subfields of linguistics, covering the span from modern sociolinguistics, via dialect research, to grammar theory and the formal study of African languages.

The school’s central topic is the empirical study and theoretical modelling of variability and its constraints at various levels of language. The more practical objective of the school is to bring together graduates with different empirical, methodological, and theoretical backgrounds, and to create a platform for mutual exchange and joint learning. Individual courses will introduce new empirical methods for diagnosing (in-)variability in language systems and language use; and they offer novel ways for the theoretical modelling of (in-)variability in language. Graduates can learn about and exchange ideas on Formal approaches to social meaning, variation and identity construction (Heather Burnett, Paris), Linguistic variation and change in social context (Sali Tagliamonte, Toronto), Morphophonemic and morphosyntactic variation in Bantu (Larry Hyman, Berkeley & Jenneke van der Wal, Leiden), and Discovering parameters: from micro- to macro-variation (Marjo van Koppen, Utrecht & Jeroen van Craenenbroeck, Leuven). This is complemented by lectures of Sjef Barbiers (Leiden), who is a Mercator Fellow in the SFB.

With its wide array of topics that address young linguists from all sub-fields, the school aims at contributing to the overall goals of the SFB 1287: A better understanding of how constraints on individual language use and (social) constraints on communication between speakers interact in shaping individual mental grammars; how individual mental grammars change over time; and how they are stabilized and aligned through inter-speaker communication, resulting in externalized language systems that are indicative of the limits of variability.

The address for the summer school is: WIS im Bildungsforum, Am Kanal 47, 14467 Potsdam.
Coming from Potsdam Hbf, the nearest tram station is either Platz der Einheit/Bildungsforum (Tram 93) or Platz der Einheit/West (Busses 605 or 614, or Trams 91, 92 or 96).

Here is the link to the summer school schedule (updated 09.05.2018) and a list of accommodations.

The participation fee is 20 Euros.


Session A
H. BurnettSyllabus
S. TagliamonteSyllabus (incl. reading list)
Session B
L. Hyman

Syllabus and reading list

Language Data Analysis Sheet (for Monday 18)

Language Data Analysis Sheet (for Tuesday 19)

J. van der WalSyllabus
Afternoon Sessions
S. BarbiersSyllabus
M. van Koppen & J. van CraenenbroeckSyllabus