Formulaic Language Research Network

Tilburg 2012

The 5th FLaRN conference was held at Tilburg in The Netherlands from 28th-30th March 2012.

The theme of the conference was “The Representation and Processing of Fixed Expressions”


Call for papers

Construction and Usage-based conceptions of linguistic knowledge posit, in one format or another, a continuum of regularity, ranging from fully lexicalized idiosyncratic expressions to fully abstract regular ‘rules’. Any construction can thus be characterized either by a list of common examples from which novel forms can be produced by analogy, or as an abstract pattern that can be applied to produce novel utterances by generalization. The relations between the two extremes are often modelled as inheritance hierarchies that can range from the use of non-productive ‘ready-made’ utterances the use of fully productive schemas which only specify typological and syntactic information.

At present, we witness a search for attempts to find empirical evidence favouring one of these conceptions over the other. Processing issues concern, for example, speakers’ tolerance to variation in the word order of larger fixed expression, or variation in selection of words. Some prefabs are at the core of what speakers recognize as fully fixed expressions, not allowing any sort of lexical or syntactic variation (idioms, for example), whereas others do allow such variation, and can be used in a variety of ways despite their prefab status. Another issue concerns the relation between fixedness as a gradient concept and the application of rule based alternations and usage. For this conference, we will be addressing issues such as the following:

1. The empirical basis for the representation of fixed expressions, taking lexical, prosodic, syntactic and conceptual aspects into account
2. The relation between elements within fixed expressions and their representation ‘outside’ them
3. The processing of prefabs: variation and facilitation, in speaking and in learning (both in the classroom and in ‘life’: becoming a member of a speech community)
4. Definitions: what exactly is included in the mental representation of the prefab (e.g. sociolinguistic information, grammatical context, encyclopaedic semantics, etc.), and what constitutes evidence
5. The typology of prefabs in terms of linguistic levels of representation, and the relation between fixed expressions, partially schematic constructions and schematic templates