11th Conference (2009 Melbourne) 
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Conference themes

The conference is open to ALL PRAGMATICS-RELATED TOPICS (where pragmatics is conceived broadly as a cognitive, social, and cultural perspective on language and communication). There is, however, a SPECIAL THEME as well: 

Diversity, context, and structure
Here is the Local Site Committee's description of that theme:

In this conference we anticipate that richer, deeper, and more satisfying accounts of language phenomena will emerge through approaches to data and theory that focus on the interaction and mutual impact of diversity, context, and structure. The diversity of ways of construing the world, and interacting in it and with it, leads to a diversity of language structures that communicators use to establish, manipulate, and refer to common ground, and to constrain the context of interpretation that is needed for the communicative act to make sense.

     A plethora of diverse approaches to language and culture has developed within theoretical and applied pragmatics, profiting from links to philosophy, semiotics, hermeneutics, cultural anthropology, and cultural studies. Diversity is manifest in pragmatic studies of

·     cross-cultural and intercultural communication in post-colonial and towards post-national societies as well as across world regions;

·     the social dimensions of code-switching;

·     mediated communications such as Internet Relay Chat, email, SMS messaging;

·     politeness strategies, negotiation, conversational cooperation;

·     questions of identity, queer and other minority talk, aspects of power and ideology;

·     theories of  grammaticalization and language change;

·     approaches to classroom practice and other discourses;

·     cognitive and cultural motivations in language use;

·     speech act theories and implicature;

·     gesture, metaphor, and language play;

·     etc.

      Multilingual Australia and its region offers diverse cultural and linguistic contexts for the application of pragmatics in contact, cross-language and cross-cultural environments. A third of the world’s languages are spoken in the south-western Pacific, which includes five of the world’s ten most linguistically diverse nations (Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands). This has given rise to strong local scholarly traditions of exploring the world’s linguistic diversity, and this conference will bring these traditions to bear on the field of pragmatics.

      A defining characteristic of pragmatics is exploration of language expressions within the context of a set of utterances. Together with the concept of common ground and the use of implicature, context allows language users to underspecify their meanings, with consequential effects on grammar. Given the centrality of context to research in pragmatics, it is timely to investigate the exact nature of relationships between the structuring or organising principles of context, language and interaction through an explicit analysis of the definition and structure of different contexts and the relationships that exist between these and the structure of the diverse kinds of interaction that can occur in them. How do differences in cultural assumptions and practices create different contexts of interpretation? How does context act as the nexus by which distinctive cultural patterns can end up creating different linguistic structures? How does the diversity of linguistic structures feed back into the creation of different contexts and distinct cultural systems?

      There is a focus on structure in pragmatic studies of the emergence of grammar from discourse, of the grammar of conversation (adjacency pairs, etc.), of lexical and structural indications of illocutionary force, and of structural change in the context of cross-cultural interaction.

     In sum, the 2009 international conference will focus on diversity – in cultures, context and linguistic structures (grammar, lexicon and prosody) – and on the way that variability in each of these  domains shapes, and is shaped by, diversity in each of the others.