LINGUIST List 31.2871

Wed Sep 23 2020

Calls: Applied Ling, Pragmatics/Switzerland

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 21-Sep-2020
From: Lauri Haapanen <>
Subject: Linguistic recycling: How and why do we reuse the same linguistic resources
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Full Title: Linguistic recycling: How and why do we reuse the same linguistic resources

Date: 27-Jun-2021 - 02-Jul-2021
Location: Winterthur, Switzerland
Contact Person: Lauri Haapanen
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Pragmatics

Call Deadline: 25-Oct-2020

Meeting Description:

“She said that he said that they said…” – this is a recursive process that can be termed ‘quoting’ when focusing on discursive practices of using utterances again and ‘recontextualization’ when focusing on the material and operational aspects of it. If termed ‘linguistic recycling’, resource aspects of this process of reusing language are foregrounded. In this panel, we invite scholars to discuss such linguistic recycling. Contributions are meant to shed light on how and why language users – both as individuals and as communities – save resources and create value by quoting and recontextualizing other’s utterances.
In the world of material goods, the term recycling describes the process of extracting entire products or their parts at the end of the products’ life cycle and reusing them to start the life cycle of new products. The value production chains of material goods are (to a certain extent) comparable with those of semiotic goods. In everyday talk as well as in professional communication and public discourse, individuals and communities engage in practices of recycling utterances. And similarly to material goods, practices of down-, cross-, and upcycling utterances have been developed to increase or maintain linguistic capital: Selling a news piece with what used to be casual utterance as its headline is what we consider upcycling. Reusing the utterance in more or less the same shape within text bodies of social and mass media news is comparable to, for example, the crosscycling of a PET bottle. By contrast, using the utterance as a text dummy in a layout sketch can be considered a case of downcycling.

Yet there are ontological differences. In the physical world, the same set of particles has been recycled since the big bang. In the semiotic world, however, recurrence, in general, and recycling, in particular, refer to the type, not the token. The utterance itself, as a physical event, is unique, inseparably intertwined with its context and therefore volatile. But this holds true in analogue communication only. Digital instances of language use such as tweets and GIFs can be recycled as exact copies, replicating themselves in social networks like viruses. So, it could be argued that digital linguistic recycling combines two types of recycling: the token-based recycling as know from the material world and the type-based recycling as known from the semiotic world. This combination results in an intriguing synthesis: In our digitalized world, we recycle semiotic and linguistic tokens (and not only types) – and we do it by saving the original token!

We are convinced that systematically scrutinizing motivations and consequences related to linguistic resources can result in exciting and, perhaps, inconvenient insights. Therefore, we invite scholars to join our panel by asking and answering a) how we can theorize linguistic recycling to add value to the well-known discussions on recontextualization and quoting, b) what methodological tools and concepts we need to study the resource aspects of reusing language, and c) how and for whose benefits linguistic recycling is practiced in various domains, today and tomorrow.

Call for Papers:

Please submit your paper abstract through the conference website by 25 October 2020. Cf. for further instructions.

Page Updated: 23-Sep-2020