LINGUIST List 25.3026

Wed Jul 23 2014

Confs: Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, Sociolinguistics/Belgium

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 23-Jul-2014
From: Paul Bouissac <>
Subject: Social Dynamics of Pronominal Systems
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Social Dynamics of Pronominal Systems

Date: 26-Jul-2015 - 31-Jul-2015
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Contact: Paul Bouissac
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics

Meeting Description:

The purpose of this session is to propose a socio-semiotic analysis of pronominal systems from the pragmatic point of view of sociality, spatial semiotics, and the bio-semiotics of territoriality. Personal pronouns, for instance, are used to determine closeness or distance, dominance or submission, equality or inequality, gender, absolute and relative status. This raises the issue of the role of pronominal systems in the early development of the child’s identity. Moreover, the social dynamic generated by pronominal systems necessarily impacts the interface between languages and creates zones of friction and misunderstandings. A better awareness of the relative implications of these systems should improve inter-ethnic and inter-linguistic interactions. In most languages, personal pronouns form a relatively autonomous system which not only regulates but also constitutes the form of social relationships among speakers of these languages. These systems change with time and space under a variety of constraints. In the meta-language of pedagogical discourse, pronouns are defined as indexical tools, that is, abstract relational tools which need a context to receive some content. The use of pronominal systems is not only regulated by syntactic rules but also governed by pragmatic norms. However, all languages do not offer the same systematic pronominal resources to their speakers. When history and socio-politics bring speakers of different languages into contact, their respective pronominal systems rarely map exactly unto each other. This often causes the emergence of tensions which are generated by the lack of homology between the pronominal systems concerned and their pragmatic rules.

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