[Air-L] CFP: Advances in Visual Methods for Linguistics, 2012 Conference

Kim Witten kimwitten at gmail.com
Thu Dec 8 02:18:29 PST 2011

AVML 2012 – Advances in Visual Methods for Linguistics
York, United Kingdom • September 5–7, 2012

Linguistics, like many other scientific disciplines, is centrally reliant upon visual images for the elicitation, analysis and presentation of data. It is difficult to imagine how linguistics could have developed, and how it could be done today, without visual representations such as syntactic trees, psychoperceptual models, vocal tract diagrams, dialect maps, or spectrograms. Complex multidimensional data can be condensed into forms that can be easily and immediately grasped in a way that would be considerably more taxing, even impossible, through textual means. Transforming our numerical results into graphical formats, according to Cleveland (1993: 1), ‘provides a front line of attack, revealing intricate structure in data that cannot be absorbed in any other way. We discover unimagined effects, and we challenge imagined ones.’ Or, as Keith Johnson succinctly puts it, ‘Nothing beats a picture’ (2008: 6).

So embedded are the ways we visualize linguistic data and linguistic phenomena in our research and teaching that it is easy to overlook the design and function of these graphical techniques. Yet the availability of powerful freeware and shareware packages which can produce easily customised publication-quality images means that we can create visual enhancements to our research output more quickly and more cheaply than ever before. Crucially, it is very much easier now than at any time in the past to experiment with imaginative and innovative ideas in visual methods. The potential for the inclusion of enriched content (animations, films, colour illustrations, interactive figures, etc.) in the ever-increasing quantities of research literature, resource materials and new textbooks being published, especially online, is enormous. There is clearly a growing appetite among the academic community for the sharing of inventive graphical methods, to judge from the contributions made by researchers to the websites and blogs that have proliferated in recent years (e.g. Infosthetics, Information is Beautiful, Cool Infographics, BBC Dimensions, or Visual Complexity). 

In spite of the ubiquity and indispensability of graphical methods in linguistics it does not appear that a conference dedicated to sharing techniques and best practices in this domain has taken place before. This is less surprising when one considers that virtually nothing has been published specifically on the subject (an exception is Stewart, 1976). We think it is important that researchers from a broad spectrum of linguistic disciplines spend time discussing how their work can be done more efficiently, and how it can achieve greater impact, using the profusion of flexible and intuitive graphical tools at their disposal. 

The Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York is hosting ‘Advances in Visual Methods for Linguistics’ on September 6-7, 2012. The conference will be preceded by a half-day workshop on the afternoon of Wednesday September 5. 

The venue for the conference is the Berrick Saul Building on the Heslington West campus of the University of York. Accommodation on campus will be available.

Call for Papers: 
Abstracts for oral or poster presentations (maximum length 500 words; please state your preference for oral or poster format) should be sent as PDF files to avml at events.york.ac.uk by January 9, 2012. 

Abstracts should be anonymous, but please make the name of the file the last name of the lead presenter (e.g. Bloggs.pdf). In the body of the e-mail to which the file is attached, please state the following information: 

Title of paper 
Name(s) of presenter(s) 
Affiliation(s) of presenter(s), including department/unit 
Contact e-mail address 

Submitters are encouraged to include relevant graphics in or accompanying their abstracts. 

We are also inviting suggestions for workshops to take place on the first day of the conference (Wednesday September 5). Suggestions should be submitted to the address shown above. The deadline for workshop suggestions is December 9, 2011. 

See http://www.avml2012.wordpress.com for further information.

Thank you.

Best wishes,
Kim Witten
Conference Organisers: 
Dom Watt, Carmen Llamas, Kim Witten, Natalie Fecher (University of York)
Anne Fabricius (Roskilde University, Denmark)
Tyler Kendall (University of Oregon)

Cleveland, W. (1993). Visualizing Data. Summit, NJ: Hobart Press.
Johnson, K. (2008). Quantitative Methods in Linguistics. Oxford: Blackwell.
Stewart,  A.H. (1976). Graphic Representation of Models in Linguistic Theory. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.

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