1st International Conference Language and Enaction 'Sense-making, Embodiment, Interaction'
Abstr. due: 20.12.2015
Dates: 01.06.16 — 03.06.16
Organizing comittee e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Organizers: Laboratoire de Recherche sur le Langage Laboratory, Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive Laboratory
The notion of enaction was originally inspired by Husserl's and Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenologies of the body. The term itself, from English ‘to enact’, ‘to produce’, ‘to dramatize’, ‘to perform’, was introduced by Chilean biologists Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana and is defined as follows:
"(...) cognition is not the representation of a pre-given world by a pre-given mind but is rather the enactment of a world and a mind on the basis of a history of the variety of actions that a being in the world performs" (Varela, Thompson, Rosch, The embodied Mind, MIT Press, p. 9).
In this perspective, Maturana considers that the working of language is both biological and cognitive: what he calls languaging is part and parcel of the flow of "coordination of coordinations", which is instrumental in enacting a world and a mind; the experience of languaging in its embodied, interactive and normative dimensions supports the simulation of experienced reality and meaning. Languaging shapes, coordinates and uniformises both subjects and groups, taken separately as well as in interactions. It paves the way for an ever-evolving way of life (by autopoiesis) characterizing the human species: as a vector of the autopoietic dynamics of the domain of consensual interactions, it enrols individual agents in the collaborative production of an enacted mind-world that is experienced as the material stage on which interactions are actually performed. Languaging is viewed both as embodied and relational, pragmatic and systemic, subject- and society-based; its role in the production of an Umwelt raises renewed questions about how nature and culture are inextricably intertwined and how evolution turns to history.
This approach was originally concerned with how actual speech supported the production of human experience and not with the linguistic dimension of languaging as such. However, over the past few decades, new lines of research have been implementing this approach in the field of language science.
The main objective of this conference is to bring together enactivist and enaction-friendly views on human speech, language and languages in both the disciplines whose principal object is language (language science, linguistics) and those that focus on language as an object of particular interest (philosophy, neuroscience, cognitive science, cognitive psychology, social science, humanities). The meeting seeks to foster collaborations, provide a synthetic view on these issues that combines different perspectives, promote the advancement of the paradigm in the field of language studies, present current and new lines of research, share terminologies, and explicitate descriptive, theoretical, modeling and experimental approaches.
In what ways should the grammar and typology of languages be re-shaped to fit this definition?
How can micro- and macro-social levels be connected? How can sense-making processes in verbal interactions be linked to the emergence of standard practices, collaborative thinking and social values?
How should we remodel the articulation between language, languages and speech in the light of languaging as an embodied, standard-setting coordinator?
What does languaging do to "us", how does it shape subjects and communities, how do agents act with it and on it (everyday user and expert, spontaneous or technology-assisted neological and phraseological creativity in speech and writing), with what consequences for its mechanisms and functions?
The conference covers a range of topics including the following:
I) General issues. Is language constrained through the biology of the perception of the world or does it modify it? How should the link between language/space/evolution/history/civilisation in a bio-ecological structure be revised (i.e. language, cognition, space and action; words and spatial navigation)? What implicit or explicit positions have already been adopted by linguistic theories on these questions (cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, enunciation theories, interlocution theories, Gestaltian semantics, semiotics, etc.)?
II) Methodology. How should the involvement of the subject in speech production and its contribution to conversation be taken into account? And conversely, what happens to us when we talk? How does first- and second-order languaging shape interacting subjects and coordinate communities? How should self-organizing dialogues and conversations be described? How do actual interactions reshape standard models of shared languaging?
III) Theoretical implications. How should traditional linguistic objects and categories be redefined once they are reconsidered as embodied and interactive processes? What are the foundations of enactive (sub)morphology, (chrono)syntax, semantics, prosody? What are the consequences for pragmatics, text linguistics, dialectology, sociolinguistics? How should language change and contacts be reconsidered in an enactive framework? Forty years after the debate between Chomsky and Piaget in Royaumont (1975), how has the issue of language universals evolved? How are contrastive and typological linguistics affected by enactivism?
How is language co-constructed in situated interactions, what is the role of linguistic policies and pressures? Is language change motivated by a set of universal or language-specific constraints? How does a language adjust to psychophysiological parameters such as perceptive and articulatory constraints? Where do we stand today on, for example, the Theory of Optimality, the debate on syllable and lexical structuring (strictly acoustic and phonetic approaches; universal phonology; motor theories), innateness vs. the evolutiveness of language-based knowledge and articulatory pressure on speech production (e.g. Davidson, 2011; MacNeilage & Davis, 2000; Prince & Smolensky, 2004; Hayes & Steriade, 2004)?
IV) Concrete consequences and applications. How is first language acquisition affected? How should the adaptation of the individual subject to ongoing interactive coordinations be accounted for? What are the implications for language teaching and didactics, and intercultural studies? Should the representational conception of linguistic meaning be revoked or amended? Can representations be maintained and be described as emerging from embodied coordinations? Can enactivism lay new foundations for language science?
Expected submissions can be intra-, inter- or transdisciplinary. Abstracts are expected to concern the link between enactivism or an enactive outlook and language, and approaches can be theoretical, descriptive, empirical, methodological or epistemological; studies exploring the links and compatibilities between existing theories and the enactive paradigm are welcome.