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Conference Information

Full Title: Formula: Units of Speech – ‘Words’ of Verbal Art, a multidisciplinary seminar-workshop

Location: Helsinki, Finland
Start Date: 17-May-2017 - 19-May-2017
Contact: Mister Frog
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Formulaic language is a topic of rising interest across researchers in diverse but related disciplines, such as anthropology, folkloristics, linguistics, philology and semiotics. Despite employing different methods and materials, their findings are often complementary or even convergent. On the other hand, a critical mass of open, interdisciplinary dialogue has yet to occur. Formula: Units of Speech – ‘Words’ of Verbal Art aims to bring different approaches to the formula into dialogue, and especially to bridge the divide between formula research on unmarked spoken or written discourse and that on forms of verbal art such as oral poetry.

Approaches to the formula in the different fields have evolved to a great degree independently of one another. At the same time, they seem to be moving toward convergence. Indeed, the rising approach in linguistics to a formulaic sequence as a morpheme-equivalent unit with a devoted entry in the mental lexicon can be seen as corresponding fully to the spreading approach to the formula in oral poetry as a vernacular ‘word’ of the registral lexicon corresponding to an integer of meaning. The divide between these branches of research has developed from viewing oral poetry as distinct from language more generally, which has been bolstered by Classic Oral-Formulaic Theory’s definition of formula in terms of metrical positions of verse. Although these views have been changing, increasingly looking at formulaic language in poetry as a universal linguistic phenomenon conditioned by a particular metrical or poetic form, the divide has persisted.

Opening dialogue across disciplines is always challenging. To facilitate exchange, sufficient time is needed both to absorb new views and ideas and to negotiate across unfamiliar perspectives. Formula is thus organized with a limited number of paper presentations, each of which is allotted a greater amount of time for open discussion. Additional participants will also have the opportunity to present and discuss their work with poster presentations.

Keynote Speakers:

- Professor Karl Reichl (University of Bonn)
- Professor Alison Wray (Cardiff University)

Formula: Units of Speech – ‘Words’ of Verbal Art is organized by Folklore Studies, University of Helsinki, and the Finnish Literature Society.

We look forward to seeing you in Helsinki.
Linguistic Subfield: Historical Linguistics; Ling & Literature; Semantics
LL Issue: 27.3728

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