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Interdisciplinary Linguistics Conference

For those of you who have been following my twitter feed for the past two days, I’ve been (trying to) live tweet the plenary speeches and some of the session papers at the first ever Interdisciplinary Linguistics Conference at Queen’s University, Belfast. The conference was set up as a way for undergraduates, postgraduates and staff from across disciplines to share their research and establish interdisciplinary links which might open up future avenues for research. A joint initiative between the Schools of English, Education and Modern Languages, the conference has been a resounding success, attracting over 200 delegates from around 30 countries. The theme of the conference was about the impact linguistics can have beyond academia, and to this end, the three plenary speeches (from Professor Deborah Cameron, Professor Michael Halliday and Professor Ruquaiya Hasan) have all focused on why linguistics is important and the contributions the field has had (or can have) on a range of disciplines, from social theory to gender studies and beyond.

The range of session papers has been equally impressive, from a study of Inception and text-world theory, to the role of knowledge structures in undergraduate writing tasks, to the acoustic correlates of emotion in Mubarak’s political speeches, to the use of pragmatic particle sort of in men and women’s speech. With four parallel sessions, I wasn’t able to attend everything I wanted to (and with the rugby on this morning, I decided to forgo this morning’s session. I’m such a rebel academic…), but the papers that I did raised some important points about the interdisciplinary nature of linguistics and offered some pertinent ways how linguistics can contribute to other fields of study.

What was also great about this conference was how well supported it has been by post-graduate research students from universities all over the world. They’ve been offered a supportive, encouraging and intellectually stimulating environment in which they can explore not only their own research, but the research of others, and the organisers of the conference really should take their hats off for putting together such a diverse and interesting range of poster and paper topics.

Also, Belfast is a wonderful city, and I want to import a key of Guinness from Ireland to Birmingham every month, simply because the Irish nectar tastes so much better here than anywhere else…

The Social Linguist

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