LINGUIST List 29.3026

Fri Jul 27 2018

Confs: Anthro Ling, Applied Ling, Disc Analysis, Pragmatics, Socioling/China

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

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Date: 27-Jul-2018
From: Daniel Perrin <>
Subject: Folk Pragmatics: Word of the Year Initiatives
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Folk Pragmatics: Word of the Year Initiatives
Short Title: WoTY

Date: 09-Jun-2019 - 14-Jun-2019
Location: Hong Kong, China
Contact: Daniel Perrin
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Applied Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics

Meeting Description:

Folk Pragmatics
Understanding the Demarginalizing Potential of the Word of the Year

Daniel Perrin, Zurich University of Applied Sciences

Word of the year initiatives can increase society’s awareness of the role language plays in everyday life. By reflecting on the public discourse of the previous twelve months, words of the year can shed light on what moved people most and what makes a society tick. The public interest in such folk pragmatics contributes to demarginalizing (applied) linguistics and pragmatics in public discourse. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that academic conferences on the topic, e.g. the “Key Words Conferences” in Warsaw 2017 and 2018, demonstrate the growing interest of scholars in this area where academic disciplines and fields such as applied linguistics and pragmatics are tangible for society-at-large.

In our panel, we critically discuss word of the year evaluation and dissemination processes around the globe. By doing so, we focus on three risks of word of the year initiatives as a form of folk pragmatics. First, processes based merely on public or language professionals’ propositions are highly engaged with society-at-large but lack grounding in empirical data and transparent evaluation methods. Second, processes that exclusively draw on corpus data and research methods risk excluding the topical view of society-at-large and language professionals. Third, the inherent need for funding and promoting word of the year initiatives bears the risk of getting absorbed by exhaustive engagements with social media and community management.

The contributions of this panel define key concepts of word of the year initiatives; explain evaluation processes for the words of the year in specific, mostly national contexts; analyze the interplay of stakeholders such as academic and non-academic institutions (e.g., publishers and media), communities (e.g., subscribed followers of initiatives), resources (e.g., linguistic databases), and processes (e.g., corpus-based evaluation methods) involved. We conclude the panel presentations by discussing advantages and difficulties of transgressing and disciplinary boundaries and combining (folk) linguistic epistemes in and beyond academia with popular word of the year initiatives.

Page Updated: 27-Jul-2018