CFP: [International] International interdisciplinary conference: 'inventive linguistics' (March 13-14 2009, FRANCE)

full name / name of organization: 
sandrine sorlin
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Call for papers: « Inventive Linguistics »
Interdisciplinary international conference: literature / linguistics /
history of ideas
EA 741 (Etudes des pays anglophones)
Université Paul Valéry - Montpellier III
13-14 March 2009 FRANCE
        Can we speak of 'linguistic invention' as we speak of scientific
invention? Having inherited the language we use, there seems to be such a
thing as constraints to inventiveness. Taking up Lévi-Strauss's dichotomy,
is not the linguistic inventor more a 'bricoleur' of language than an
        If we can talk (not uncontroversially) of scientific 'progress', the
evolution of language has often been perceived as following a path towards
deterioration. Hence the numerous linguistic projects which aimed at
checking the 'corruption' of language or at making it as rational and
univocal as possible, as the only way to make sure human thoughts would be
clear (the philosophical and universal languages from the17th to the 19th
century for instance) or logical (from Leibniz to the formal languages of
the 20th century). In its attempt to make language more consensual, the
'politically correct' phenomenon of the 20th century could be said to be in
line with this attempt at reinventing language. Inventive linguistics thus
seems to be linked to some form of political or social utopia. But has
language the power to change things? Is the alteration of/on language
always positive? Where is the frontier between reform and manipulation? Yet
language seems to follow an unpredictable and uncontrollable path of its
own. The international English language of the 21st century for example
seems to move further and further away from its original standard model in
the use non-native English speakers make of it around the world: degraded
copy or re-invention?
        However linguistic resourcefulness seems to be the prerogative of
literature. According to Deleuze, the literary work of art is always
written in some foreign, other language which makes 'scientific' grammar
stutter, thereby ensuring the constant regeneration of language. Literature
sometimes makes its creations more visible: we only need to think of More's
Utopia which launched the genre of verbal creation, of Joyce's linguistic
bomb, Tolkien's invented languages, or more generally of the
'linguistic-fiction' of the 20th and 21st centuries. The question then
needs to be raised as to the limits of inventiveness: how far can it go
without forgetting that language is above all supposed to be shared? What
are the goals and effects/affects of linguistic creation? What are its
privileged rhetorical arms?
        We seem to have driven a wedge between 'inventive' and 'scientific'
linguistics. Should they really be thought in terms of opposition?

The following key words are mere suggestions and by no means limitations to
the chosen theme:
- lexical coinage
- invented languages (universal characters, lingua humana, glossolalia, etc...)
- political correctness – linguistic norms – 'non-standard' English
- fantastic linguistics, 'linguistic-fiction' (imaginary travel /
exploratory stories / science-fiction)
- constraints as inventiveness
- language / ideology / utopia / dystopia

Proposals of about 300 words to be sent by June 30, 2008 to

For further information, contact or

Selected papers will be considered for publication.


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Received on Tue Apr 01 2008 - 03:42:38 EST

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