Language in and out of society: Converging critiques of the Labovian paradigm

Johannes Woschitz
University of Edinburgh

The following text is based on and is, where appropriate, an elaboration of Woschitz (2019), a paper I have recently published and which is the centrepiece of my PhD thesis. A different title could have been: the structuralist heritage in sociolinguistics. Yet another title could have been: the ongoing clarification of the register concept within sociolinguistics.

Consider the following phenomenon: All throughout North America, a range of sound changes – more specifically, phonological changes – have been reported (Labov, Ash, & Boberg, 2006). Speakers of the Inland North are undergoing the so-called Northern Cities Vowel Shift, Canadians are undergoing the Canadian Vowel Shift, the West merges CAUGHT with COT, Philadelphians show fronting of back vowels, and so on. Similar changes have been studied across the Atlantic Ocean. In Danish spoken in Denmark, for instance, vigorous sound changes have been reported to have happened in the 20th century, which is why Swedes find it increasingly hard to understand their neighbours (see Gregersen, 2003, p. 145).

In their analysis of such phenomena, linguists are faced with at least three challenges. Read more ›

Posted in America, Article, Dialectology, Linguistics, Phonetics, Phonology, Sociolinguistics

Henry Sweet Society Colloquium 2020, London

The 2020 annual colloquium of the Henry Sweet Society for the History of Linguistic Ideas will be held on Thursday 30 April at the University of Westminster, London. Papers are invited on any topic in the History of Linguistics and Linguistic Ideas. We also welcome proposals for panels of papers on a specific topic. Read more ›

Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops

SHLP VII Conference, 2020, Canberra

Pacific region

Australian National University, Canberra
3–4 August 2020

Organisers: Bill McGregor, Clara Stockigt & David Moore

SHLP website
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Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of linguistics, October 2019

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Posted in Announcements, Publications, Uncategorized

The journal WORD and the structural heritage of usage-based linguistics: Three functional tenets and an overarching principle

Enrico Torre
Università degli Studi di Genova

The first issue of WORD was launched in 1945, announced on its front cover as “the journal of the Linguistic Circle of New York, devoted to the study of linguistic science in all its aspects.” At the time, the only other general linguistics journal published in the United States was Language, the organ of the Linguistic Society of America, which – at least according to the received view – was firmly in the hands of mechanist post-Bloomfieldians. Indeed, under Bernard Bloch’s (1907–1965) editorship, most contributions accepted in Language were either papers on historical linguistics or strictly formal descriptions of linguistic phenomena. As scholars of the mechanist orientation were increasingly perceived as becoming elitist and the field seemed to be narrowing, a sense of discontent began to spread among fellow linguists who did not recognize themselves in that approach (Householder 1978). Read more ›

Posted in 20th century, America, Article, History, Linguistics

Program September–December 2019

As new posts are published, they will be added here.

18 September The journal Word and the structural heritage of usage-based linguistics: Three functional tenets and an overarching principle.
Enrico Torre
University of Genoa
Posted in Programs

Recent publications in the history and philosophy of linguistics, September 2019

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Posted in Announcements, Publications, Uncategorized

Call for Papers: Between form and meaning: the structural quest for “Gesamtbedeutungen”, Open Workshop ICHoLS XV, 24-28 Aug. 2020, Milan

Lorenzo Cigana (University of Copenhagen)
Henrik Jørgensen (University of Aarhus)

In 1936, Roman Jakobson qualified the “quest for general meanings” as a specific trend in structural linguistics aiming to motivate each morphological category (such as gender, number or case) by associating it to an abstract content or to a possibly closed inventory of semantic traits. According to him, such trend was of paramount importance in the establishment of a general grammar, and characterized it as follows: Read more ›

Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops

Cfp : First International Conference on Linguistic Terminology, Glossing and Phonemicization (Yamagata University, Japan, Feb. 22–23, 2020)

Hosted by the Japanese Linguistics Internationalization Committee
Held at Yamagata University, Yonezawa Campus, Japan, Feb. 22–23, 2020

Call for Papers

As linguistic research expands to cover an ever increasing number of languages and subfields, various collaborations have been carried out to standardize terminology and glossing practices. This has led to a wealth of useful resources such as Glottopedia or the Leipzig Glossing Rules, with various other projects currently underway. The Japanese Linguistics Internationalization Committee (JLINC), established in April 2019, aims to compile a list of English, German, French, Chinese and Korean translations for Japanese linguistics terminology as well as a set of interlinear glossing rules and phonemicizations for Japonic (Japanese-Ryūkyūan) languages and dialects.

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Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops, Uncategorized

Cfp : Open workshops, ICHoLS 15, Milan, August 24-28, 2020

From ICHoLS XV website :

Proposals for the following open workshops must be sent to the address of the workshop organiser. They must be submitted no later than December 1 2019.
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Posted in Announcements, Conferences and workshops, Uncategorized