LINGUIST List 33.2555

Fri Aug 19 2022

Confs: Pragmatics/Japan

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <everettlinguistlist.org>



Date: 11-Aug-2022
From: Andrew Feeney <andrew.feeneynorthumbria.ac.uk>
Subject: Pragmatics in the Evolution of Language: Workshop at the Joint Conference on Language Evolution, Japan 2022
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Pragmatics in the Evolution of Language: Workshop at the Joint Conference on Language Evolution, Japan 2022
Short Title: PragJCoLE2022


Date: 04-Sep-2022 - 05-Sep-2022
Location: Kanazawa, Japan
Contact: Andrew Feeney
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL: https://northumbriaenglish.org/pragmatics-and-language-evolution/

Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics

Meeting Description:

This hybrid workshop aims to bring together researchers working with an explicit focus on the role of pragmatics in the evolutionary emergence of language. We argue that a spotlight on pragmatic competence is not only to be welcomed, but is indispensable in understanding the emergence and evolution of language as a tool of communication in the hominin clade. For the purposes of this workshop we take it as axiomatic that pragmatic competence is fundamental to language in which ‘communication depends upon the ability of human beings to attribute mental states to others’ (Origgi and Sperber, 2004). However a number of questions arise before the nature of the pragmatic role in language evolution can be fully established, and it is these that we seek to address in this Workshop:

- to what extent was pragmatic competence foundational to the emergence of language?
- were the earliest forms of language (protolanguage in the literature) more akin to the vocal or gestural communication systems seen in other species, before human-type pragmatic aspects of cognition were in place?
- what is the balance between biological and socio-cultural factors in the nature and evolutionary development of these cognitive processes?
- can the answer to these questions shed light on the fundamental question of when language first appeared in humans or one of our ancestral species?
- what constitutes evidence and what methodological forms of inquiry are most appropriate in the exploration of evolutionary cognitive and linguistic pragmatics?

Confirmed Speakers:
Thom Scott-Phillips, Central European University, Vienna;
Nikolaus Ritt, Vienna University;
Christophe Heintz, Central European University, Vienna;
Andrew Feeney, Northumbria University, United Kingdom

Program:

Confirmed speakers:
Thom Scott-Phillips, Central European University, Vienna;
Nikolaus Ritt, Vienna University;
Christophe Heintz, Central European University, Vienna;
Andrew Feeney, Northumbria University, United Kingdom

Full program now available at: https://northumbriaenglish.org/pragmatics-and-language-evolution/

Registration now open at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-place-of-pragmatics-in-the-evolution-of-language-online-and-hybrid-tickets-399489763637

Interest in language has a recorded history stretching back to the ancient Greeks. Yet for many years the study of ‘grammar’ subsumed inquiry into linguistic sounds and their patterns (phonetics and phonology), the internal structure of meaningful units (morphology), the relationships between these units (syntax) and the encoding of meanings (semantics). A lamentably late addition to these fields of investigation has been the study of how speakers communicate in context, a domain only afforded a name in the last century: pragmatics (Morrison, 1938).

A similar pattern of initial neglect can be seen in the recent history of the study of linguistics within language evolution. The publication of early seminal works by Bickerton (1990) and Pinker and Bloom (1990) established an emphasis on structural aspects of language, a disposition that has since increased with a reductionist focus on primary, underlying computations (Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch, 2002; Pinker and Jackendoff, 2005).

Only recently has this imbalance begun to be corrected and papers are now appearing with an explicit focus on the role of pragmatics in the evolutionary emergence of language. We argue that a spotlight on pragmatic competence is not only to be welcomed, but is indispensable in understanding the emergence and evolution of language as a tool of communication in the hominin clade. For the purposes of this workshop we take it as axiomatic that pragmatic competence is fundamental to language in which ‘communication depends upon the ability of human beings to attribute mental states to others’ (Origgi and Sperber, 2004). However a number of questions arise before the nature of the pragmatic role in language evolution can be fully established and it is these which the workshop intends to address.




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