Rara & Rarissima —
Collecting and interpreting unusual characteristics of human languages
Leipzig (Germany), 29 March - 1 April 2006
Call for Papers] [Registration]
[Travel & Accomodation] [Abstracts] [Schedule]
Larry Hyman (University of California, Berkeley)
Frans Plank (Universität Konstanz)
Ian Maddieson (University of California, Berkeley)
Daniel L. Everett (University of Manchester)
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Universals of language have been studied extensively
for the last
four decades, allowing fundamental insight into the principles and
general properties of human language. Only incidentally have
researchers looked at the other end of the scale. And even when they
mostly just noted peculiar facts as "quirks" or "unusual behavior",
making too much of an effort at explaining them beyond calling them
"exceptions" to various rules or generalizations.
Rarissima and rara, features and properties found only in one or very few languages, tell us as much about the capacities and limits of human language(s) as do universals. Explaining the existence of such rare phenomena on the one hand, and the fact of their rareness or uniqueness on the other, should prove a reasonable and interesting challenge to any theory of how human language works.
A suggested (but not exhaustive) list of relevant themes is:
Rara & Rarissima Conference
* Download the Rara 2006 poster
in A1 format (PDF, ca. 80 KB) and in A4 format (PDF,