Theme Sessions at the Second International
Conference of the Swedish Association for Language and Cognition (SALC),
Interfaces of Language and Vision
People use language to communicate with other people daily in natural environments.
Recent psycholinguistic studies have done important work to explain how attention to visual environment is linked to language in such situations. Especially, studies with the visual world eye-tracking method have empirically shown that allocation of attention to visual entities in the world has a tight temporal coupling with cognitive processes underlying spoken language comprehension and production. By studying a variety of different linguistic structures these studies have tested and developed psycholinguistic theories and models of language comprehension and production.
The current theme session on Interfaces of Language and Vision is dedicated to studies investigating how visual environment interacts with language comprehension and production processes. The topics are as follows (but not restricted to):
Cognition and Second Language Use
In recent decades a vast amount of research has been done both within the broad area of cognitive linguistics and cognitive studies generally, as well as within the broad area of second language acquisition and use. The overlap between these two areas, however, has remained relatively small. The aim of this theme session is to bring together researchers who are working within a cognitive paradigm on questions of L2 acquisition and use.
The most general issue in cognitive approaches to L2 use is perhaps the question of cognitive and processing differences between L1 and L2 use. There are very many more specific questions, such as the following:
· cognitive barriers to native-like proficiency in L2 users
· various cognitive stages in L2 attainment
· processing efficiency among L1 and L2 users
· L2 reading/writing/speaking/listening proficiencies
· the critical period hypothesis
· L2 influences on L1 processes (reverse transfer)
· cognitive aspects of language aptitude
· didactic/pedagogical approaches – what can cognitive linguistics offer to L2-eduacation?
We would welcome all papers that address these and related questions within the area of cognition and L2 use.
Language, consciousness and semiosis
By definition, language is the major object of study of linguistics, and semiosis (“meaning making”) of semiotics. No one has a similar monopoly on consciousness, but until recently it was mostly philosophy that dared to deal with this “dangerous topic”, and, arguably with most insight, the tradition of phenomenology, emanating from Husserl. However, in the past, few scholars have ventured to trespass the borders of these three subjects, and thus to investigate the relations between language, consciousness and semiosis in a truly interdisciplinary fashion.
But the times they are a’changing. Journals such as Cognitive Semiotics, Journal of Consciousness Studies, and Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences have recently published issues precisely encouraging such “trespassing”. Established semioticians such as Fredrik Stjernfeldt, Søren Brier and Göran Sonesson have written extensively on language, consciousness and semiosis, combining insights from the three disciplines. Linguists such as Len Talmy, Per-Åge Brandt, Esa Itkonen and Jordan Zlatev have done likewise. Members of the interdisciplinary “Distributed Language Group” (DLG) have done so too, though being more influenced by Wittgenstein, Vygotsky and Maturana than phenomenology. Phenomenologists “proper” nowadays seem less concerned with language per se, but Shaun Gallagher, Søren Overgaard and Maxine Sheets-Johnstone have made valuable contributions, especially with respect to the elucidation of a notion that is crucial for cognitive linguistics: “embodiment”.
In this theme session, we invite contributions (from these and related fields) that explicitly deal with the relationships between language, consciousness and semiosis. A key question is that of priority, in ontological, methodological and empirical (e.g. in ontogeny and phylogeny) terms between language, consciousness and semiosis (and particularly: signs). For example, Peircians often give priority to signs with respect to both consciousness and language. Sonesson, on the other hand, privileges consciousness within a framework of “phenomenological semiotics”. Zlatev argues similarly for “the dependence of language on consciousness”. Finally, DLG members like Cowley and Kravchenko argue for a decisive role of “languaging”, understood in broadly biosemiotic terms, for consciousness.
We look forward to open discussions on these issues, on the basis of presentations using either stringent conceptual/semantic analysis, or empirical investigations, and in the best case both.
When a Word Makes a World
The session will be devoted to examination of linguistic relativity as (re)created in fiction.
When inventing peculiar worlds in their books, many writers, among them such different authors as J.R.R. Tolkien, Anthony Burges, Will Self, created specific languages for the inhabitants of these worlds to speak and think. The discussion at the session is expected to touch on various aspects of fictitious linguistic relativity analyzed within the framework of cognitive science, including the following questions:
· What cognitive need prompts authors to invented languages for fictitious worlds or, alternatively, create fictitious worlds where invented languages can be spoken?
· What categorizations do these invented languages represent? How do these categorizations contribute to ensuring the uniqueness and authenticity of the fictitious worlds?
· What are the relationships between an invented language and a real language/ real languages?
· What cognitive difficulties may/ do readers encounter when interpreting messages in invented languages?
· What cognitive structures and mechanisms are employed by readers to understand invented languages?
· How are the conceptual and semantic gaps between invented languages and real languages bridged?
· What is the correlation between real linguistic relativity and fictitious linguistic relativity?