Abstract Submission

The call for papers ended on October 31, 2016.

Talks will be given in the following sessions:

Session 1 will discuss the ways in which physical boundaries are treated in linguistics, conversation analysis, social geography and the social sciences. Physical boundaries are most prominent as natural boundaries (such as mountains or rivers) but also comprise built boundaries in terms of architecture (leading to entities such as cities, districts, buildings or rooms). Physical boundaries are known to have impacts on linguistic and social differences and are accordingly claimed to establish relevant linguistic and social areas ranging from face-to-face interactional spaces to regional communities. Nevertheless, their status as material givens has long been challenged from different points of view. Take, for instance, the classical sociological argument that boundaries should not be taken as spatial facts with social impact but as social facts with spatial forms. The theoretical as well as methodological and empirical question then is to account for the social construction of boundaries without neglecting their physical and material manifestations. Talks related to this question may address the formation of physical boundaries within concrete settings of face-to-face interaction, within urban public spheres or larger regional areas.

Session 2 is dedicated to boundaries of linguistic areas and socio-cultural interaction. It focuses on factors that play a role in shaping external and internal boundaries of linguistic areas. Determining the boundaries of linguistic areas is a notoriously difficult task. The main reason for this is that linguistic areas are complex multi-faceted constructs. For instance, areas with shared linguistic features are not necessarily congruent with climate zones or areas with shared socio-cultural values. At the level of interpersonal interaction, intergroup attitudes can override the general tendency of interlocutors to converge in conversation and therefore contribute to the maintenance of boundaries. We explicitly encourage a multi-disciplinary dialogue, in order to increase our understanding of the interaction between linguistic, socio-cultural, and ecological factors that may impede contact between speakers of different languages or language varieties and therefore contribute to shaping the boundaries of linguistic areas.

Session 3 is concerned with the encoding of space in language describing geographic objects, such as mountains and valleys, and relationships between them. How are such places referred to in language? Is their linguistic categorization clear-cut or vague, on which factors does this depend and what implications does this have for communication? Talks in this session will address categorization of geographic objects from multiple perspectives including (cognitive) semantics, deixis and expression of spatial relations in language, linguistic diversity and onomastics, and work linking representations of geographic objects to language.

Session 4 concerns shifting boundaries in time and space, the diffusion and disappearance of linguistic features in dialect contact (with regard to: syntax, morphology, phonology, and the lexicon), but also the dissolution of boundaries as in virtual space or as a consequence of migration. As mobility and migration are at last blurring the boundaries between linguistic regions, how do people describe themselves and how does this conform to regions as they are conventionally thought of? In a wider perspective, research questions in this session also concern self assignment and identity construction: what labels do we assign ourselves in cultural, ethnic and linguistic terms? Topics of this session may also include: qualitative and quantitative methods in linguistic geography and variational linguistics, the description/determination of boundaries with regard to linguistic change.