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AISB event Bulletin Item

Final CFP: ViC 2009 Vagueness in Communication


Vagueness in Communication (ViC 2009)
July 20-24, 2009

organised as part of the European Summer School on Logic, Language and Information ESSLLI 2009 (, 20-31 July, 2009 in Bordeaux, France

Workshop Organiser:
Nikolaus Bourbax (Manfred Krifka, Rick Nouwen, Robert van Rooij, Uli Sauerland and Hans-Christian Schmitz)

The workshop is organised as an event of the VAAG project of the ESF Eurocore LogicCC.

Workshop Purpose and Topics:
Although vagueness has long since been an important topic in philosophy, logic and linguistics, some recent advances have made the functions of vagueness in natural language communication an exciting and timely research area. This renewed interest has a distinct cross-disciplinary character and has spawned many new research questions. While the classical instruments of dealing with vagueness -- like multi-valued logics, truth value gaps or gluts, or supervaluations -- have not been significantly extended, new approaches investigate questions like context-sensitivtiy of vagueness (Kyburg & Moreau 2000), the sharpening of vague predicates in context (Barker 2002), and the modeling of precision levels with expressions like 'roughly' or 'like' (Kennedy 2007). Within the study of comparatives and degree modification, moreover, researchers are now exploring cross-linguistic aspects of vagueness (Beck et al 2004). On a more fundamental level, the question why there is vagueness to begin with, what role vagueness serves in human communication, has been addressed. For example, it has been argued that vagueness is an epiphenomenon of the impossibility of complete shared knowledge about the extension of many terms (e.g. Williamson 1994), hence a consequence of the cognitive limitations of humans. It has been shown why this does not affect the utility of these terms in communication (Parikh 1994). Game-theoretic methods have been employed that show that being vague or imprecise can be beneficial for communication even if the speaker could truthfully use more precise terms (de Jaegher 2003). Furthermore, the important role of vagueness became evident in a number of empirical domains beyond obvious examples such as the language of diplomacy -- for example, in geographical terms (e.g. Bennett 2008) or in the description of measures of economy (Qizilbash 2005). There are also initial experimental investigations into the ways how speakers interpret vague terms (e.g., Bonini e.a. 1999).

The workshop aims to bring together researchers whose work contributes to the broad inter-disciplinary line of inquiry outlined here. In particular, we welcome:

   * papers that broaden the empirical base for the study of vagueness, be it linguistic or otherwise;
   * papers offering a synthesis of theories from different disciplines; and
   * papers addressing the pragmatics of vagueness.

The workshop aims to provide a forum for researchers (including advanced PhD students) to present and discuss their work with colleagues and researchers who work in the broad subject of the disciplines relevant for vagueness in communication, as represented in ESSLLI.

Submission Details:
Authors are invited to submit an anonymous, extended abstract. Submissions should not exceed 2 pages, including references. Submissions should be in PDF format. Please submit your abstract via the EasyChair system: For questions regarding the submission procedure, contact Rick Nouwen (rnouwen [AT] The submissions will be reviewed by the workshop's programme committee.

Workshop Format:
The workshop is part of ESSLLI and is open to all ESSLLI participants. It will consist of five 90-minute sessions held over five consecutive days in the first week of ESSLLI. There will be 2-3 slots for paper presentation and discussion per session. On the first day the workshop organisers will give an introduction to the topic.

Invited Speakers:

   * Graeme Forbes (Boulder, Colorado)
   * Ewan Klein (Edinburgh)
   * Louise McNally (Barcelona)

Workshop Programme Committee:

   * Graeme Forbes
   * Peter Grdenfors
   * Hans Kamp
   * Chris Kennedy
   * Ewan Klein
   * Manfred Krifka
   * Manfred Kupffer
   * Louise McNally
   * Rick Nouwen
   * Barbara Partee
   * Uli Sauerland
   * Hans-Christian Schmitz
   * Marieke Schouwstra
   * Markus Schrenk
   * Robert van Rooij
   * Yoad Winter
   * Thomas Ede Zimmermann

Important Dates:
Submission Deadline: February 15, 2009
Notification: April 1, 2009
Preliminary programme: April 24, 2009
ESSLLI early registration deadline: April 15, 2009
Final papers for proceedings: June 1, 2009
Final programme: June 19, 2009
Workshop dates: July 20-24, 2009

Local Arrangements:
All workshop participants including the presenters will be required to register for ESSLLI. The registration fee for authors presenting a paper will correspond to the early student/workshop speaker registration fee. There will be no reimbursement for travel costs and accommodation.

Further Information about ESSLLI: