From: Eric Corre <eric.correwanadoo.fr>
Subject: Representation of Events
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Representation of Events
Date: 28-Oct-2010 - 30-Oct-2010
Location: Paris, France
Contact: Eric Corre
Contact Email: eric.correuniv-paris3.fr
Meeting URL: http://sesylia.com/colloques.html
Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; Discourse Analysis; Lexicography; Ling &
The SESYLIA-LILT linguistic research team at Institut du Monde Anglophone,
Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, is organizing a conference on the notion(s) of
"events" with the following goals:
- to take stock of current research on event structure and the verb from the
perspective of lexical or generative syntax, cognitive linguistics or
'énonciative' (utterer-centered) frameworks;
- to consider the event in relation to language acquisition;
- to encourage a cross-fertilization of ideas on the discursive, historical,
philosophical, poetic and literary uses of events;
- to promote dialogue and interaction between different approaches to the
notion of events.
Non Linguistic Perspective
The term "event" immediately calls to mind a number of synonyms such
as : "fact, situation, accident, incident". The etymology of the last two
suggests different ideas: an accident is what "falls into" (ad+cadere) a
landmark; an incident describes an external entity that "comes out" onto a
scene, i.e. an observable presence manifests itself on a previously empty
scene. An event is linked to the emergence, the appearance, revelation or
inchoation of some fact, some situation that stands out against the normal
flow of things and deserves to be remarked upon. From that perspective, the
role of the narrator/observer is central in presenting an event. Moreover, an
event is a construction that is linked to a given period and a particular
From a philosophical perspective there are two schools of thought: some
philosophers (for example Kim, Chisholm) conceive of events as universal and
generic entities (properties of moments of time) with individual events
obtained from special axioms. Others (for example Davidson) think that events
are individual entities with the same ontological status as objects or
substances: generic events are types (of individual events). For D. Van de
Velde (2006), it so happens that these two conceptions of events correspond to
two types of events nominalizations, which she calls "complete" and "incomplete"
It is therefore interesting to review the multiple definitions of the notion of
"event" . In literature, we may wonder under what circumstances a fact or an
accident becomes an event. Why does a narrator choose to name facts
or persons "events" as in the Joyce quote? What is the connection between
events and the narrative process in general ?
Which event or person emerged as the salient point in his narration?
Stephen Dedalus, professor and author. (J. Joyce, Ulysses)
It is the individualizing and constructional aspect of events, the notion
that events are objects that have the ontology of a substance AND can be
broken down into instants with variable temporal thickness, which helps
explain the use of the notion "event" in linguistic analysis. Since the work
of Davidson (1967), research on events and their representation has been rich
and varied in several domains of linguistic analysis, from syntax to discourse
pragmatics. The following aspects will be of relevance in the conference:
1) From the perspective of the morphosyntax of verbs/events, of lexical and/or
- an event-based ontology has allowed linguists to better identify the meaning
components associated with the structure of verbs and VPs (Aktionsart
components, causativity, resultativity, etc.), and the term "event structure"
has become very popular indeed among linguists who deal with events and/or verb
- a parallel investigation of verbal roots has emerged with the goal of better
representing verb meaning. Of particular interest is the relation of verbal
roots to structural templates.
- work on event nominalisations has revealed certain differences, between
simple and complex derived nominals (Grimshaw 1991 for English) and between
complete or incomple nominalizations (Van de Velde 2006 for French). Amongst
other things this helps us to make a distinction between facts and actions.
2) From a theoretical perspective, events are either not represented or
represented differently: Role and Reference Grammar (Van Valin) never uses an
eventual or subeventual notation, Pustejovsky's Generative Lexicon theory
constantly uses it, Generative and Transformational Grammar (Guéron, Ramchand)
distinguishes between lexical (encyclopaedic) and functional information with
event structure phrases belonging to the first level of representation but
somehow finding their way onto higher nodes. Other theories (Cognitive Grammar,
the French Theory of Predicative and Enunciative Operations) do without a
(sub)eventual notation and defend the view that eventive lexemes (verbs,
verb-particle combinations, prefixed verbs) can be represented in the form of
abstract scenarios or configurations which do not need that level of
3) From the perspective of language acquisition and the use of events in
discourse studies :
- it is interesting to study how and how fast (or slowly) children assimilate
the difference between events classes and/or verb classes? The question can best
be asked in relation to multiple languages;
- In literary types of discourse, is the notion of event relevant to the shaping
of narrations? Are works carried out in the framework of Discourse
Representation Theory applicable to literary analysis?
Plenary Speakers (for linguistics):
Hagit Borer (University of Southern California)
Jacqueline Guéron (Université Paris 3)
Jean-Pierre Koënig (University at Buffalo)
Robert D. Van Valin, Jr. (University at Buffalo & Heinrich-Heine-University
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