LINGUIST List 30.4257

Sat Nov 09 2019

Calls: Applied Linguistics, Ling & Literature, Text/Corpus Linguistics/Germany

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 04-Nov-2019
From: Sofia Rüdiger <>
Subject: Corpus Approaches to the Language of Science Fiction
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Full Title: Corpus Approaches to the Language of Science Fiction

Date: 20-May-2020 - 20-May-2020
Location: Heidelberg, Germany
Contact Person: Sofia Rüdiger
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Ling & Literature; Text/Corpus Linguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Dec-2019

Meeting Description:

Full Session Title: To boldly go - Corpus approaches to the language of Science Fiction
Convenors: Claudia Lange & Sofia Rüdiger

Engaging with possible futures is an essential human endeavor and the popularity of the Science Fiction (SF) genre in general, but also particularly among linguists, thus does not come as a surprise. SF has the power to continually shape, stimulate, and challenge contemporary thought and societal norms, and serves much deeper undertakings than being mere speculative fiction.

While being notoriously difficult to define, most writers on Science Fiction (SF) take Darko Suvin’s by now classic definition of the genre as a reference point (e.g. Shippey 2007: 15, Adams 2017: 331):
SF is, then, a literary genre whose necessary and sufficient conditions are the presence and interaction of estrangement and cognition, and whose main formal device is an imaginative framework alternative to the author’s empirical environment. (Suvin 2016[1979]: 20)

Science Fiction texts – which we take to include stories, novels, fan fiction, video games, TV series, and movies – rely on linguistic “means of estrangement” listed by Adams (2017: 333ff.) to different degrees. Science Fiction’s alternative ‘imaginative framework’ comes to life via the creative use of language and may range from occasional ‘alien’ referring expressions to the development of fully-fledged artificial languages, with Klingon being the most iconic and enduring example (Adams 2011, Okrent 2009).

Whereas previous research on SF has rested mainly on literary and qualitative approaches, we propose corpus linguistics as a fruitful method to investigate the language of Science Fiction from new perspectives. Recently published resources, such as the BYU TV Corpus (2019) and the BYU Movie Corpus (2019), include ample SF material, offer easy access to telecinematic discourse, and have yet to be employed for large-scale corpus linguistic research of SF.

Call for Papers:

This workshop is devoted to exploring the language in/of Science Fiction with corpus linguistic approaches. We would like to raise the following questions and welcome contributions which explore these and other related issues:

- How can we characterize the language of Science Fiction, concerning individual authors as well as individual subgenres and text types?
- How has the language of Science Fiction changed over time? Which linguistic levels contribute most to such change?
- Which corpus linguistic methods lend themselves to an analysis of the language of Science Fiction (e.g., corpus stylistics, corpus-based approaches to metaphor)?
- Is it possible to quantify the notion of ‘estrangement’ characterizing Science Fiction texts?
- In how far has the language of Science Fiction entered popular culture?
- How are linguistic aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) represented in Science Fiction (e.g., by sentient androids, talking machines, etc., cf. Epstein et al. (2008))? How does this relate to present day AI developments, such as chatbots, Alexa, etc.?
- What do corpus linguistic methods contribute to analyzing world building in SF?
- How can multimodal material be productively included in the corpus-based analysis of SF texts?

We explicitly encourage submissions with interdisciplinary approaches to the language of Science Fiction (e.g., corpus stylistics, corpus-based media studies, digital humanities).

Please submit your abstract of 500 words (including references) via e-mail to and by 15 December 2019. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out in mid-January 2020.

Page Updated: 09-Nov-2019