LINGUIST List 25.2950

Thu Jul 17 2014

Calls: Philosophy of Lang, Pragmatics, Semantics, Socioling, Typology/Belgium

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 16-Jul-2014
From: Minyao Huang <>
Subject: Dynamics of Self-Expression Across Languages
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: Dynamics of Self-Expression Across Languages

Date: 26-Jul-2015 - 31-Jul-2015
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Contact Person: Minyao Huang
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Philosophy of Language; Pragmatics; Semantics; Sociolinguistics; Typology

Call Deadline: 15-Sep-2014

Meeting Description:

The concept of the self is expressed in vastly different ways across languages. In Indo-European languages, while the first-person pronouns, such as 'I' in English, are the default forms to express the self that one is immediately aware of (Perry 1979), impersonal pronouns such as 'one' in English are often used for detached self-reference (Moltmann 2010). By contrast, in many Asian languages, honorifics for the first person enable the speaker to refer to herself in a way that requires conceptual mediation. In Thai for example, a female speaker can use the word for 'mouse' to refer to herself. Such a word exhibits the semantic characteristics of both a first-person pronoun and an indefinite description, as the sense of the self it conveys is shaped by the public concept of that small, insignificant rodent (Jaszczolt 2013). Furthermore, in some African languages, the first-person pronouns can be used to report a third party's self-awareness (Schlenker 2011). In Amharic for instance, the Amharic sentence that literally translates as 'Mary says that I am a genius' can mean that Mary says that she herself is a genius.

The purpose of this panel is to explore how the concept of the self is adapted for expression across languages, to draw out ways in which languages differ in the recruitment of structural and contextual resources for self-reference, and to enquire into the explicit vs. implicit conveyance of different kinds and degrees of self-awareness in self-reference.


Jaszczolt, K. 2013. First-person reference in discourse: Aims and strategies. Journal of Pragmatics 48. 57-70. Special Issue 'Focus on the Speaker'.
Moltmann, F. 2010. Generalizing detached self-reference and the semantics of generic one. Mind and Language 25: 440-473.
Perry, J. 1979. 'The problem of the essential indexical'. Noûs 13. 3-21.
Schlenker, P. 2011. Indexicality and de se reports. In: K. von Heusinger, C. Maienborn and P. Portner (eds). Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. Vol. 2. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 1561-1604.

Call for Papers:

Papers are invited on cross-linguistic, semantic, pragmatic and philosophical approaches to self-reference. Of particular interest are questions such as:

1. Cross-linguistically, how is the act of self-referring adapted to the cross-cultural differences in the way the concept of the self is construed? How is self-reference realised in the grammar and in language use?
2. Do first-person pronouns form a universal category dedicated to self-reference? Is self-reference achieved via other linguistic forms and/or through pragmatic inference that is unarticulated in the surface linguistic form?
3. How do different ways of referring to oneself in languages correlate with different kinds and degrees of self-awareness in cultures? Is such correlation explicitly encoded in the linguistic form or implicitly conveyed through pragmatic inference?
4. What do such questions and their answers imply for the commonly-held distinctions between nouns and pronouns and between indexical expressions and non-indexicals, for the nature of indexicality and for the semantics/pragmatics interface?

If you are interested in presenting a paper in this panel, please send your abstract (max. 500 words, not including references and data) by 15 September 2014 to the following address:

Please Note:

a) All abstracts, even if accepted by the panel organizer, will have to be submitted individually (web-based submission to IPrA) by 15 October 2014.
b) IPrA membership is required both for the web-based submission and, later on, for presentation at the 14th International Pragmatics Conference.

Page Updated: 17-Jul-2014