Sociolinguistic, Psycholinguistic and Formal Perspectives on Meaning
Published on Jul 2, 2018
July 2nd - 3rd
In recent years, the study of linguistic meaning and its role in social interaction has seen rapid advances in three distinct areas: formal semantics and pragmatics, psycholinguistics, and sociolinguistics. Expressive meaning (see Potts, 2007 ; Gutzmann, 2015) and its properties in language related to the social phenomena of honorification, perjoration and politeness has come to occupy a prominent place in the field of formal semantics and pragmatics (Van Rooij, 2003; Potts et al., 2009; McCready et al., 2012 ; McCready, 2012, among others). Likewise, psycholinguistic research in experimental semantics and pragmatics is painting an ever more complex picture of the interactions of multiple factors in the computation of speaker meaning, including perspective taking, speaker identity, world knowledge, and speaker-specific idiosyncrasies (Heller et al., 2008; Grodner and Sedivy, 2011; Brown-Schmidt, 2012 ; Kurumada et al., 2012 ; Degen, 2015 ; Pogue et al., 2016; Yildirim et al., 2016; Lev-Ari, 2016, among others). Finally, although sociolinguistics had traditionally studied patterns of language production and variation (see Labov, 1963, 1966), there is a growing movement in the field that focuses on listeners’ interpretation of socially meaningful variants (see, for example, Eckert’s Third Wave approach (Eckert, 2000, 2008, 2012)). Despite increasing attention devoted to meaning and social interaction in each of these communities, there has been surprisingly little collaboration across all three. Although formal semantics/ pragmatics has become increasingly informed by psycholinguistic research in the past 15 years, it is only extremely recently that classic sociolinguistic topics such as stance and identity construction have begun to be investigated from a formal perspective (Smith et al., 2010; Acton, 2014; Acton and Potts, 2014; Cornips, 2014; Beltrama, 2016; Burnett, 2017). Likewise, although a dominant approach in sociolinguistics (the variationist approach (Labov, 1963, 1966)) has traditionally been quantitative corpus studies, methods adapted from social psychology and psycholinguistics have started to become common in this area as well (Campbell-Kibler, 2007; Podesva, 2007; Lev-Ari, 2016; Levon, 2014; D’Onofrio, 2015; Tamminga, 2017, among others). We therefore suggest that the timing is right for a substantial integration between the three areas, and we invite submissions for oral presentations from researchers working on meaning and social interaction at the intersection of formal semantics/pragmatics, psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics.