LINGUIST List 24.1667

Sun Apr 14 2013

Calls: Discipline of Ling, History of Ling, Philosophy of Lang/France

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <>

Date: 12-Apr-2013
From: Jacqueline Leon <>
Subject: Models and Modeling in the Language Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences
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Full Title: Models and Modeling in the Language Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences
Date: 23-Jan-2014 - 25-Jan-2014 Location: Paris, France Contact Person: Jacqueline Leon
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:
Linguistic Field(s): Discipline of Linguistics; History of Linguistics; Philosophy of Language

Call Deadline: 10-Jun-2013

Meeting Description:

No description can avoid setting up classification operators, namely selecting relevant features and defining equivalence classes, and the language sciences provide very early illustrations of these operators, such as grammatical paradigms, parts of speech, etc. These operators are nonetheless diverse, ranging from simple taxonomy to mathematical formalization and metadescriptive concepts (e.g. constituent analysis in linguistics). This diversity leads to the usual typologies (isologic, analogical, abstract modeling) being overstretched fairly quickly.

Furthermore we must note that the conceptual as well as terminological use of metatheoretical notions - such as model and modeling - is often intuitive: any ordering of data will be attributed to a model, and the formalization of pre-organized data will be seen as a modeling As a result it is not surprising to find the humanities pulled towards literature and societal phenomena. This sets up the humanities against positivism, bringing up the outdated argument of ‘sciences which ignore the subject’. Moreover one cannot ignore the fact that the accusation that the humanities do not have any true modeling serves as an argument to invalidate their methodology, and they are then faced with either becoming experimental sciences, or being labelled ‘pseudo-sciences’.

The attitudes described above are of course based on a misunderstanding regarding the concepts of linguistics, the nature of social objects, their construction without an obvious boundary between spontaneous metadiscourse by the actors and their research-based modeling. Yet these attitudes also signal a probable insecurity of these fields with regards to their own tools and objects. This insecurity is not limited to the language sciences, and the progressive separation of history and philosophy of science is probably another, indirect, clue to this situation. Furthermore, by falling back on erudition, scholars who truly know their field are freed from having to judge their own methods. It thus seems that the time has come for the language sciences and indeed all the humanities to reclaim their objects, something which is only possible by reembracing history and epistemology and by answering the question of what constitutes an object in these fields and how it is modelled. In this context the language sciences have much to learn from other humanities and social sciences because this question has become central to other fields such as sociology and geography.

Each disciplinary field has attempted to build, for reasons both conjectural and heuristic, a specific relationship with modeling and its own historicity. The role of the transfer of methods, techniques and models between fields must be taken into account. Without going so far as the usual opposition between Natur and Geisteswissenschaft, there is much to be gained from collectively reconsidering the concepts of model and modeling in the language sciences, the humanities and the social sciences. A survey has become necessary, addressing the following questions: What is a model? Should this term be limited to a certain type of generalization? Have the humanities, or some of the humanities, developed specific types of modeling? How are the models produced, borrowed, abandoned? These questions should help return historicity to the heart of the philosophy of science, and, perhaps more directly, allow these fields to fully reclaim their objects.

[Full presentation of the conference:]

Call for Papers:

Please send submissions (English or French abstract of 500 words, in addition to bibliography and keywords) before June 10, 2013, to:

Please use the subject heading: SHESL_HTL 2014.

Notification of acceptance will be sent by July 10.

Proceedings will be published in the series Histoire des Sciences Humaines (ed. Cl. Blanckaert) at L'Harmattan.


Claude Blanckaert (Centre Alexandre Koyré, CNRS, EHESS, MNHM)
Jacqueline Léon (Histoire des Théories Linguistiques, CNRS)
Didier Samain (Histoire des Théories Linguistiques, Université Paris Diderot)

Institutional Partners:

Société d'Histoire et d'Epistémologie des Sciences du Langage (SHESL), Histoire des Théories Linguistiques (HTL, UMR7597), Centre Alexandre Koyré. Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques (UMR8560).

Scientific Committee:

Sylvie Archaimbault, Sylvain Auroux, Emilie Aussant, Claude Blanckaert, Wolf Feuerhahn, Lia Formigari, Jacqueline Léon, Olivier Orain, Christian Puech, David Romand, Nick Riemer, Didier Samain.

Organizing Committee:

Sylvie Archaimbault, Emilie Aussant, Valentina Bisconti, Claude Blanckaert, Danielle Candel, Bernard Colombat, Jacqueline Léon, Valelia Muni Toke, Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn Didier Samain.

Page Updated: 14-Apr-2013