LINGUIST List 29.2996

Tue Jul 24 2018

Calls: Anthro Ling, Disc Analysis, Pragmatics, Socioling, Text/Corpus Ling/China

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

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Date: 23-Jul-2018
From: Britta Schneider <>
Subject: Posthumanist Pragmatics: Linguistic Encounters in the Digital Uncanny Valley
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Full Title: Posthumanist Pragmatics: Linguistic Encounters in the Digital Uncanny Valley
Short Title: DigUncanny

Date: 09-Jun-2019 - 14-Jun-2019
Location: Hong Kong, China
Contact Person: Theresa Heyd
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Oct-2018

Meeting Description:

In this panel, we treat pragmatic aspects of human-machine interaction in everyday life, including:

- the reading and producing of algorithmic texts
- discursive engagements with the Internet of Things, with software agents such as Alexa or Siri, and with social media bots
- or the consumption of AI-generated/enhanced media products

These various forms of language production are shaped by the interaction of human and non-human agents. Embedded in the larger notion of posthumanist applied linguistics (Pennycook 2018), they demonstrate the generally precarious nature of an understanding of the human as essentially different from non-human communicative agents.

From a sociolinguistic and pragmatic point of view, one recurring theme in human-machine interaction is striking: the language that is produced here is often perceived as divergent. Sometimes, it may produce inadvertent humor and double-entendre (e.g. autocorrect effects), surprising creativity and even machine-generated beauty. In other cases, the linguistic effects may be more unsettling: algorithms bring taboo discourse to the fore; social media sites foster and create interactions that some users experience as transgressive or even abusive; technological artefacts may become sexualized, anthropomorphized or otherwise imbued with social meaning.

Some of these pragmatic conditions may be linked to a linguistic uncanny valley effect (see Mori et al. 2012 [1970]). It may be precisely their semiotic semblance of humanness which makes their diverging qualities all the more unsettling and transgressive - in brief, uncanny. Potential effects could be that pragmatic conditions of sayability are changed; assumptions about im/politeness and common ground may be altered; patterns of conversational structure may be rearranged in talking to machines, and prosodic features of computer-generated voices may trigger complex patterns of uptake.

Call for Papers:

We invite theoretical and empirical studies that explore posthumanist pragmatics in its diverse forms. We invite contributions that engage with the sociolinguistics and pragmatics of encounters at the margins of human and nonhuman language, including aspects such as:

- The digital uncanny: discourses of transgression on social media
- Pragmatic conditions of human-machine interaction
- Changing conversational routines in transhuman encounters
- The pragmatics of algorithmed discourse
- Transnational effects in transhuman digital language production
- Theoretical examinations of the distinction of human and non-human interaction
- Aspects of gender, sexuality and age.

Tentatively confirmed contributors: Ana Deumert (Cape Town); Alexandra Georgakopoulou (London); Rodney Jones (Reading); Netaya Lotze (M√ľnster); Alastair Pennycook (Sydney).

Abstracts of 250 - 500 words (including references) can be submitted until October 15 via the IPrA conference website Additional information regarding the abstract submission process can be found at Please feel free to contact us via email with any questions:

Page Updated: 24-Jul-2018