[WS121] Perspectives on Complexity


Organizer: Dr. Shahin Nematzadeh


Recently, there has been a growing interest in complexity. Complexity is a cover concept that can unite several different disciplines. On the one hand it is applied in interdisciplinary subdisciplines of linguistics such as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics and computational linguistics and in subfields of linguistics like morphology and syntax, in typology and language acquisition, in second language learning and cognitive linguistics. On the other  hand it is rooted in other disciplines like biology (Changizi, 2001) and communication science (Shannon,1951). In other words today‘s concept of complexity goes beyond the traditional observations that: 1) languages are complex; 2) and some languages are more complex than other ones. The modern version of complexity in linguistics has been introduced in Trudgill (1986), Anderson (1988), Kusters (2003), Dahl (2004), Givon (2008), Miestamo (2008), Givon & Shibatani (2009), Hawkins (2011) and by the Surrey Morphology Group.

In this workshop, both theoretical and applied problems concerning complexity will be discussed as follows:

1. Applied Complexity

1.1. Complexity in Typology

1.2. Complexity in First Language Acquisition

1.3. Complexity in Second Language Learning

1.4. Complexity in Sociolinguistics

1.5. Complexity in Psycholinguistic

2. Theoretical Complexity

2.1. Complexity Classification

2.2. Complexity and Markedness

2.3. Complexity and Naturalness

2.4. Complexity and Cognition

2.5. Complexity and Regularity

2.6. Complexity and Symmetry

2.7. Quantitative Criteria of Complexity

2.8. Qualitative Criteria of Complexity


Format of the workshop : Lecture;  4 Hours. 8 lectures will be presented, the introductory ones by the organizer and the keynote speaker. There is room for 6 external lectures that will be selected by the organizer helped by one reviewer.


Anderson, H .1988. Center and Periphery: Adoption, diffusion and spread. In Historical Dialectology: Regional and Social, J.Fisiak (ed.), 39-83.Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Changizi, M.A.2001. Universal scaling laws for hierarchical complexity in languages, organisms, behaviors and other combinatorial systems. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 211,277-295.

Dahl, O. 2004.The Growth and Maintenance of Linguistic Complexity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fenk-Oczlon, G; A. Fenk. 2008. Complexity trade-offs between the subsystems of language. In: M, Miestamo & Others (eds.). Language Complexity, Typology, Contact, Change .Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Givon, T; M. Shibatani. 2009. Syntactic Complexity, Diachrony, Acquisition, Neuro-cognition, Evolution. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Kusters, W .2008. Complexity in linguistic theory, language learning and language change. In: M, Miestamo & Others (eds.). Language Complexity, Typology, Contact, Change. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Miestamo, M & Others (eds.) .Language Complexity, Typology, Contact, Change .Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Trudgill, P. 1986. Dialects in Contact. Oxford: Blackwell.



25.07.2013   10:30-12:30

Title: Perspectives on Complexity
Chair: Gertraud Fenk

10:30 - 11:00 Shahin NEMATZADEH
Perspective on Complexity (Openening Lecture)
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11:00 - 12:00 Reza NILIPOUR
Complexity and Cognition in Cognitive Neuroscience
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25.07.2013   14:00-16:00

Title: Perspectives on Complexity
Chair: Reza Nilipour

14:00 - 14:30 Angels MASSIP BONET et al.
Language and other Complex Social Adaptive Systems
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14:30 - 15:00 Raffaela BAECHLER
Complexity from a Comparative and Diachronic Perspective
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15:00 - 15:30 Maryam S. GHIASIAN et al.
Complexity in Interlanguage Cognitive Network of Persian Speakers: A Case Study of Learning Spanish Phrasal Verbs
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15:30 - 16:00 Maryam DANAYE TOUS
Persian Orthographic Complexity and its Impact on Phonological Awareness: Evidence from Dyslexic and Unimpaired Persian Children
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25.07.2013   16:30-18:30

Title: Perspectives on Complexity
Chair: Angels Massip Bonet

16:30 - 17:30 Gertraud FENK-OCZLON
Relationships between Semantic Complexity, Structural Complexity and Markedness: Frequency Matters
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17:30 - 18:00 Mehran GHAFARI
Levels of Complexity of OO and SO type Relative Clauses in Preschool Persian Speaking Children
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18:00 - 18:30 Maris CAMILLERI
Paradigmatic Stem-form Complexity in Maltese
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