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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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FYI: Expression of Inequality: Power, Dominance, Status

Author: Rainer Schulze

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

FYI Body: Call for papers Expression of Inequality in Interaction: Power,
Dominance, and Status
Eds. H. Pishwa & R. Schulze

The goal of the present volume is to promote our understanding of
power and dominance in language, its use and effect. Linguistically,
this yields two questions. One of these is whether there are linguistic
elements with inherent functions of power, i.e. whether they can be
considered to intermediate power in all contexts as has been shown in
some fields of research, e.g. studies on politeness and gender
language as well as in experiments by social psychologists. The
second question is which more flexible linguistic structures there are
that can convey power in certain constellations without an inherent
notion of power, i.e. the way conceptual and schematic information
about dominance, power, and status is expressed in authentic
communication. This means that the reading of power in these
structures is dependent on the context, an important and complex
target of investigation with the issue of variable factors. On the one
hand, our goal is, then, to aspire towards a systematic account of
linguistic resources carrying power – either inherently or due to context
– in authentic communication, whereby the urgent question is: What
are the factors that help to identify dominance, power, and status? On
the other hand, we aim at revealing more about the relationship
between language, contextual factors and compliance.

Power and inequality:

We define the concept of dominance as something being established,
asserted and maintained by a single interactant or a group of
interactants vis à vis other individual interactants or a group of
interactants, with the implicit or explicit aim to make the other individual
interactants or groups of interactants perform some desired behaviour
they might otherwise not perform (Wilson 2002: 4) and thus to
establish, assert and maintain structural and/or cultural inequalities
(thus constituting a more or less stable rank order or hierarchy) within
a particular encounter, speech community or between different speech
communities through particular linguistic displays.

Participants and methodology:

The manifold issues of empirical and non-empirical research work in
linguistics, social psychology, sociology, communication studies and
psychology are the target of the proposed volume which, in addition,
provokes a question central to all the contributions to this enterprise:
How are aspects of linguistic and/or behavioural inequality conveyed
by linguistic expressions, or how does English or any other language
develop specific devices for the expression of conceptual and/or
schematic aspects of dominance, power and status? Which
constellations of language and contextual factors make the addressee

Methodology and theoretical issues:

Qualitative and quantitative studies in:
Cognitive linguistics
Mental spaces & blending
Markedness theory/prototype theory
Critical discourse analysis
Gender linguistics
Politeness vs. assertiveness
Issues and experiments in social psychology
Communication studies


Authentic discourse in different contexts
Media discourse
Persuasive discourse
Tests and experiments

Please send your abstract by May 31 to rainer.schulze@engsem.uni-
hannover.de and hanna@pishwa.de.

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