Spatial Boundaries and Transitions in Language and Interaction: Linguistics and Geography

Country: Switzerland

City: Ascona

Abstr. due: 31.10.2016

Dates: 23.04.17 — 28.04.17

Area Of Sciences: Humanities;

Organizing comittee e-mail:

Organizers: University of Zurich


Spatial Boundaries and Transitions in Language and Interaction - Perspectives from Linguistics and Geography

Spatial boundaries can be considered as real or imaginary lines separating two things. Hence we may find natural, social, linguistic or geographical boundaries. Boundaries are often visualized on maps, and the scientific discipline most obviously concerned with them is geography. Within linguistics, the fields of dialectology and typology are traditionally concerned with boundaries, in that they mark linguistic areas on maps. Aside from this local scale, interactional spaces emerge in concrete social situations. It is this micro level of face-to-face interaction and its delimination of being ''inside'' and ''outside'' that provides the focus of interactional linguistics. Linguistic boundaries are never clear-cut, but are better characterised as overlapping transitional spaces because of myriads of interaction episodes arising from migration and urbanisation. Moreover, human interaction is being transformed by new communication technologies dissolving physical boundaries, while socio-cultural and linguistic ones may persist.

The interdisciplinary symposium ''Spatial boundaries and transitions in language and interaction'', organized by the University Research Priority Program (URPP) ''Language and Space'' (University of Zurich) will combine perspectives from geography and linguistics, bringing together eminent experts and highly qualified young researchers from various linguistic fields (including contact linguistics, dialectology, sociolinguistics, cognitive linguistics and conversation analysis); cultural and human geography, anthropology, and geographical information science. It will address the role of boundaries and transitions at different levels, theoretically as well as empirically, and will bring focus to the methodological underpinnings of a wide range of relevant approaches.

Core Topics and Sessions:
The relevant disciplinary perspectives with regard to spatial boundaries will be covered by talks from eminent experts. These include the roles of spatial boundaries within linguistic areas, within human geography, within interactional spaces, and within GIScience. The core topics of the conference will be developed within four sessions dedicated to different ways of conceiving, and representing spatial boundaries. The sessions will be introduced by renowned experts in their field of research. An evening talk open to the interested public will discuss very current issues of migration, borders and boundaries from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Invited Speakers:
Peter Auer
Christian Berndt
Nick Enfield
Frans Gregersen
Tom Güldemann
Setha Low
Dan Montello
Barbara Tversky
Ruth Wodak

Conference Web-Site: