Grammar of genres and styles: which approaches to prefer?
ConSciLa (Confrontations en Sciences du Langage),
Friday 16 January 2015
(the place will be announced later)
Thierry Charnois (University of Paris 13, LIPN),
Sascha Diwersy (Universität zu Köln),
Meri Larjavaara (Åbo Akademi),
Dominique Legallois (University of Caen, Crisco)
Call for participation
Modern syntactic research consists generally of studies that are oriented towards formal properties of sentences. Sentences are then analyzed independently of any utterer-based perspective, or generic textual features.
As a result of this, grammatical variation is not viewed as central, nor are performance-related specificities viewed as pertinent to the field of syntax. In a similar manner, textual studies (in the tradition of textometrics and discourse analysis) rarely focus on the syntactic specificities of the genres under scrutiny, and instead concentrate on lexical and utterer-based specificities. As a consequence, textual genre is rarely characterized by its syntactic features. Whereas stylistics would appear most suited to the study of such linguistic features, its practice is flawed by heavily academic nature and lack of formal tools, restricting any analyses to pertinent yet isolated units of texts.
In recent years, automatic text analysis has enabled a more accurate identification of lexical and grammatical features of texts and genres. There are two main approaches, the first being more widespread than the second :
The paradigmatic approach rests upon the quantification of morpho-syntactic categories. For instance, in his work on oral discourse in the academic community, Biber 2006 uncovers the over-usage (in comparison with written discourse) of first person pronouns, of evaluative expressions (“mental” verbs, modal adverbs, etc.), of WH- questions, etc. By means of factorisation, it is possible to determine a set of properties particular to a specific genre.
The syntagmatic approach focuses on the combination of lexical units, the identification of preferred, or dispreferred, syntagmatic segments by genre. To give an illustration of this, consider the lexico-grammatical structure named “pattern” or motif in Quiniou et al, ce N si ADJ et si ADJ (lit : That N so ADJ and so ADJ). This semantico-evaluative pattern is specific to the 19th century genre of Memoirs, in comparison with Travel narrative, Novels, Correspondence, Essays of the same period :
Oh ! Tant mieux, tant mieux de n’ être pas bornés par ce temps si court et si triste ! E. de Guérin, Journal (1834-1840)
(lit : that time so short and so sad)
Seulement, pour ne pas faire acte de désobéissance et de bravade envers cette mère si tendre et si aimée, Maurice lui annonça […] un petit voyage au Blanc. G. Sand, Histoire de ma vie, 1855
(lit : that mother so tender and so loved)
On éprouve aujourd’hui encore, comme autrefois, une grande douceur intérieure à voir ces lieux si bénis, et maintenant si abandonnés. Mgr Dupanloup, Journal intime, 1876
(lit : these places so blessed and now so abandoned)
This Conscila Study day devoted to the study of grammar and stylistics of discourse genre, aims to bring together researchers in linguistics or NLP whose work focuses on the identification of lexico- grammatical textual features. Papers submitted must take into account the constraints of comprehensiveness : we will not focus on one type of form, but on a maximum of genre-specific elements. The following issues will be discussed:
– Techniques for the identification of generic properties ;
– The complementarity or competitivity between paradigmatic or syntagmatic approaches;
– Data interpretation.
Proposals should therefore focus on the characterization of discourse genre (literary or otherwise) or style, in a comprehensive perspective ; methods can be discussed, without neglecting linguistic description. Also of interest is the comparison between authors, the focus on registers, discourse practices, and textual units (narrative, argumentative, descriptive, etc.).
Studies may include any language, and both oral and written genres are welcome. We also welcome a variety of perspectives, including: computing, didactics, stylistics, discourse study, syntax…
Communications may be presented in French or in English.
Submission Deadline :
1- An intention to submit a paper will be sent by mid-September at
2- A detailed proposal of at least 1 full page should then be submitted by 1 November 2014. Selected papers will be notified by 20 November 2014 .
Biber D. (2006) University language: A corpus-based study of spoken and written registers. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
Biber, D. & S. Conrad 2009: Register, genre and style. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dorgeloh, H. & A. Wanner (eds) 2010: Syntactic variation and genre, Berlin/New York: De Gruyter Mouton.
Larjavaara M et Legallois D. (en prép.) « Les genres discursifs et leur grammaire »
Longrée D. et Mellet S. (2013. « Le motif : une unité phraséologique englobante ? Étendre le champ de la phraséologie de la langue au discours », Langages 189 (D. Legallois & A. Tutin, coord.), p.68-80
Quiniou S., Cellier P., Charnois Th. et Legallois D. (2012)« What About Sequential Data Mining Techniques to Identify Linguistic Patterns for Stylistics ? » in Lecture Notes in Computer Science, Springer Vol. 7181, pp 166-177
Martin, J. R. & Rose, D. (2008) : Genre relations. Mapping culture. London: Equinox.
revue Linx n° 64-65 , « Les genres de discours vus par la grammaire », sous la direction de M. Krazem.