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28th CerLiCO International Conference

du 13 juin 2014 au 14 juin 2014


Linearity and Interpretation: 1 - Interpreting the perception of linearity

The issue of the linear ordering of linguistic forms is both a long-standing and far-reaching one, spreading across the fields of linguistics. Saussure was the drive behind our representation of language as being linear.

However, recent psycholinguistic research (Sauzet and al. 1999) challenges this perception of linearity.

Our linear perception of written or spoken units appears to be misdirected, in so far as it is at odds with both our senses and the laws of physics. In fact, recent research shows that sounds are not a string of consecutive units but instead that they overlap (Liberman 1996). As far as the written page is concerned, it has been proven that our eyes do not process one letter after the next. Although our linear perception is undeniable, the surface arrangement of linguistic units is a topic that requires further insight.

The Conference, which will be held in Caen (Normandie University, UNICAEN), aims to address the new data and to expand on some of the following issues:

1) What is meant by the linear ordering of constituents? Are there various ways of viewing the surface order of oral or written items?

2) Is our interpretation linear? Is our perception of forms linear or non-linear? How can we connect perception, whether linear or not, with interpretation? In other words, what kind of relation can be established between interpretative processes and word order? Do we need discrete units and categorization to be able to interpret data?

3) What impact does the perception of linear ordering have on grammatical analysis, and notably in didactics? The parsing of units produced by grammatical analysis such as IC-analysis is not linear. Therefore, it goes against the principle of sequencing. Is discreteness synonymous with interpretation or does it only represent a stage of the interpreting process?

4) What relation can be established between linearity and interpretation in terms of language typology? Can diachrony shed new light on the issue, notably relating to the phenomenon of grammaticalization?

All theoretical frames are welcome, provided they are specified.

Presentation of papers will be allocated 25 minutes with an additional 15 minutes for questions. Articles will be published in 2015 in Travaux Linguistiques du CerLiCO n°28 by Rennes University Press.


Deadline for abstract submission: September 30, 2013

Authors of individual papers and posters should submit anonymous abstracts, giving a clear indication as to the connection with the conference topic, the empirical data used and providing a short list of references. Abstracts should be no longer than one page (500 words/3000 signs). Abstracts will be accessible on the CerLiCO website.

Each proposal will be examined anonymously by two members of the scientific committee.

They should be sent in the form of anonymous attachments (in Word.doc or PDF format) to Valérie Amary-Coudreau and Emmanuelle Roussel (

Subject of the message: "Cerlico 2014"

Specify in the body of the message:
- name of author(s);
- title of paper;
- institution.


DEHAENE, S., Les neurones de la lecture, Paris, Odile Jacob, 2007.
LIBERMAN, A.L., Speech: A Special Code, Cambridge (Mass.), MIT Press, 1996.
SAUZET, P. et al., La linéarité, Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes, 28, Presses universitaires de Vincennes, 1999.
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Dernière modification : 26 juin 2019

Université de Caen Normandie
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