“What’s in a name?” Labelling concepts and languages 2.0: Expanding the scenery

Colloquium A: Scrutinizing critical concepts and theoretical approaches in studying multilingualism

Image of the painting "The treachery of images" by R. Magritte. A pipe on a brown background with the writing "ceci n'est pas une pipe."

René Magritte, La Trahison des images (Photo: C. Herscovici/Artists Rights Society - ARS, New York)

 What's in a name? That which we call a rose                                                                   By any other word would smell as sweet;                                                              Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

This workshop is a continuation of a discussion started with an in-house workshop in November 2021. As a point of departure for that workshop, we addressed the issue of terminology and labeling, which has engaged scholars in heated debates within linguistics, with a focus on the issue of codeswitching vs. translanguaging.

The concept of language itself – and the naming of languages and lects – has come under scrutiny. In the previous and also in this follow-up workshop, we aim to discuss different positions and reflect on the debate that has been going on in linguistics with respect to the delineation of languages/lects (including mixing styles and registers), and naming them (both scientific names and folk names), including the nature of language contact. The question here is whether entities that are by their very nature not easily delimited (as many things in the world and most things in the social world) should nevertheless be named, and how.

In this follow-up workshop, we want to expand the discussion to the relationship between theoretical concepts, terminology and labelling more generally. The question is whether we end up with a proliferation of terms without precise definitions (and referential meaning), with unclear advantages over older terms, or genuinely new ideas. Questions we would like to address are:

  • To what extent do new labels/terminology refer to new theoretical concepts, to what extent do they overlap, and to what extent are they in tension with one another?
  • What does it take for a terminological or conceptual innovation to be theoretically useful? And what does theoretical usefulness actually amount to?
  • What is the goal of theory and theory building? How do we differentiate between description and theory, and what exactly we are trying to theorize?


Click here to read the program


Join here: https://uio.zoom.us/j/63042215253


Published July 11, 2022 9:35 AM - Last modified Oct. 3, 2022 5:06 PM