Language Aficionados Gather

The Third Annual Tampa Workshop on Theoretical Linguistics March 8-10 draws national and international participants.                           


By Barbara Melendez

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2012) – Language – with its complex systems of rules – sets humans apart from other creatures.


The study of language has relevance not only to linguists but also to students of communication, anthropology, philosophy, mathematical/logical modeling of meaning, specific languages and language in general. 


The Third Annual Tampa Workshop on Theoretical Linguistics (TAW 3), the leading convention of its kind in the southeastern United States held from March 8 to March 10, provides an immersion in the mechanics of language. Sponsored by the University of South Florida Department of World Languages, this three-day event will focus on topics such as negation fronting, the “Unique Path Constraint Effect,” phonological acquisition, quantifier raising, “nouniness,” free datives, and identity interpretation in non-finite clauses, just to mention a few.


“We’re focusing on theoretical approaches to syntax, semantics and phonology,” said event organizer and USF faculty member, Stefan Huber, “What’s especially exciting for us is the exploration and explanation of characteristic phenomena in natural languages.”


The conference features world-renowned researcher Marga Reis from the University of Tübingen, Germany.  Her topic is: “Echo questions are WHAT??: On the analysis of echo wh-questions in German.”


“She has been investigating a wide array of syntactic, semantic, and pragmatic phenomena in Germanic languages, such as presuppositions, parentheticals, and semi-parentheticals and fragmentary constructions as independent utterances,” said Huber.


Other notable sessions include “Child Second Language (L2) Acquisition and Cognitive Development: Is earlier always better?” presented by Jason Rothman, Drew Long, Anne Lingwall, & Becky Halloran, University of Florida and A Semantic Characterization of the Spanish Anaphoric Neuter Form Lo,  presented by Iker Zulaica, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.”


The national and international scope of the event is visible with participants from throughout Florida and from Georgia, Iowa, Vermont, California and Indiana, as well as Sweden, and Japan.


“We will be examining languages such as English, German, Gottschee German – a German dialect spoken in Slovenia, Hungarian, Spanish, Galician – a language spoken in northwestern Spain, Japanese, as well as Lebanese and Egyptian Arabic,” he said. 


“Language acquisition is the most distinctively human feature,” Huber said.  “The more you delve into it and the unique features of different languages it just becomes more and more fascinating in all of its intricacies.”


Huber and co-organizer, Sonia Ramírez Wohlmuth, an instructor in Spanish, are the editors of the web journal Tampa Papers in Linguistics which provides a platform for previously unpublished research on various linguistic topics. The next issue is due to come out in Fall 2012. For more information, write to or Tampa Papers in Linguistics, Department of World Languages, University of South Florida, 4202 East Fowler Avenue, CPR 107, Tampa, FL 33620.


For more information on the conference and/or the journal visit or contact Huber at or Wohlmuth at or call (813) 974-2433.


Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563.