Grammar and Genre: interfaces and influences

24-26 Oct, 2012 | Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland

Variation is one of the key themes in modern grammatical studies, and its investigation highlights the role of contextual factors in the structure of language. These factors can be on many levels and of many different types. The mere genre to which a text belongs potentially dictates a variety of linguistic structures. (For studies about genre see e.g. Bakhtin 1986 to begin with, and more recently Martin & Rose 2008, Biber & Conrad 2009, and Dorgeloh & Wanner 2010.)

This symposium - organized by The Linguistic Association of Finland in collaboration with the Faculty of Humanities of Åbo Akademi University - aims to study the interfaces between grammar and genre: the purpose is to investigate how genre affects grammatical choices. How are genre distinctions reflected in grammar, be it for example literary vs. media genres, or distinctions such as argumentative, informative, persuasive, expressive, or narrative genres? Is a specific genre belonging to a particular domain, e.g. sport news vs. economy news, characterized by certain grammatical choices? Possible genre distinctions are various, and both empirical questions related to the theme and more theoretical implications and reflections thereof are welcome.

We would like to bring together linguists from different fields: linguists studying languages with a small number of speakers, linguists whose data come from languages with millions of speakers and a wide variety of institutionalized genres, theoretically oriented linguists to discuss the implications, as well as linguists with more empirical concerns.

We warmly welcome papers related to these questions. Possible topics for talks include, but, as usual, are not restricted to, the following:

  • How does the grammarian take into account the belonging of the data to a certain genre? If there is data in a particular genre only, how does this affect the results? How does the fieldworker react to this?
  • How does the linguist identify the genre in question?
  • Why do some grammatical constructions appear only in a specific genre?
  • Is grammar one and only for a given language? How do we account for Coseriu’s distinction sistema - norma social/individual - hablar concreto in empirical, data-driven linguistics?
  • How can we use the outcomes of stylistics in modern grammatical studies (cf. Bally’s stylistics a century ago), that is not only in the literary sense but to explore variation in grammar? What is the relationship between genre and style?
  • How does the speaker manipulate grammar to create a genre?
  • The concept of genre and language learning
  • Genre in different domains
  • Genre and language evolution
  • Genre and language contacts: does genre play a role in code switching?

Invited speakers

Maarten Mous (Leiden University)
Maria Vilkuna (Institute for the Languages of Finland)
Tuija Virtanen-Ulfhielm (Åbo Akademi University)
Anja Wanner (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Abstracts are invited for a 20-minute presentation followed by 10 minutes of discussion. Please send your abstract no later than May 21, 2012 (see the link "Abstract submission" on the left). Abstracts will be evaluated by the members of the scientific committee and also by the organizing committee. Letters of acceptance will be sent by June 15, 2012.


The symposium can include workshops. Proposals for them should be submitted no later than April 2, 2012. Notification of acceptance will be given by April 16. These one-day workshops will run in parallel sessions with the main conference program. Alternatively, the first day of the symposium may be dedicated to workshops. The symposium organizers will provide the lecture rooms and other facilities, but the workshop organizers will be responsible for the organization of their workshops (choosing the speakers etc.).

Key dates (NB: new dates)

  • Deadline for abstract submission: May 21, 2012
  • Notification of acceptance: June 15, 2012
  • Proposals for workshops: April 2, 2012
  • Notification of acceptance of workshops: April 16, 2012
  • Registration begins: July 16, 2012
  • Deadline for registrations: September 15, 2012


  • Presentations by the invited speakers
  • Presentations by other participants
  • Posters
  • Workshops


Bakhtin, M. 1986: Speech genres and other late essays. Translated by Vern W. McGee. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
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: Mouton De Gruyter.
Martin, J. R. & D. Rose 2008: Genre relations. Mapping culture. London: Equinox.