[lg policy] calls: Semantics for Robots: Utopian and Dystopian Visions in the Age of the 'Language Machine'

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jul 14 14:24:11 UTC 2010

[All:  this message isn't your typical "language policy" message, but
what the conference is trying to do is
get away from "dehumanized" (abstract linguistics) ideas about what
and how language operates, so I think
it's appropriate.  (hs)]

Semantics for Robots: Utopian and Dystopian Visions in the Age of the
'Language Machine'

Full Title: Semantics for Robots: Utopian and Dystopian Visions in the Age
of the 'Language Machine'

Date: 02-Dec-2010 - 04-Dec-2010
Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA
Contact Person: Adrian Pablé
Meeting Email: apablehku.hk

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics; Philosophy of Language;

Call Deadline: 01-Oct-2010

Meeting Description:

Roy Harris in his 1987 work The Language Machine (Duckworth) identified
the idea of language as an autonomous, mechanical and self-defining
system as a key component of the language myth. Harris characterized the
fantasy of a language system underlying and enabling both human
communicational activity and human cognition as 'a semantics for robots,
not for human beings'. This myth of the language machine has been
promoted by a modern, profoundly dehumanized linguistics, but has deep
roots in the Western tradition of language theorizing. The question that
Harris raises is precisely what makes meaning? What makes communication
possible? What makes language, including the products of the language
machine, work? Contemporary sciences—including philosophy, linguistics,
psychology, computer science and allied fields—assume that communication
presupposes language, while Harris argues that language presupposes
communication. For Harris, what makes the language machine work is the
human language maker who is trying to make something happen.

The conference organizers invite papers on the following themes:

-Linguistics and language as a system, the mind-brain as computer, the
speaker-hearer as information processor, the cognitive turn in linguistics;

-Futurology: predicting the evolution of language, writing, sign-systems and

-Futuristic perspectives on language and communication, as found in
utopian/dystopian popular culture, science fiction; Orwell's 'Newspeak' and
language engineering;

-Envisioning language in the information age: data-storage, global systems
and markets, individuality and identity, law and intellectual property,
language and cyberspace, the semantics of 'spam';

-Machine translation, artificial intelligence, Google as corpus, electronic

-Integrationism: signs, meaning and knowledge in the information age;

-The Language Machine as a prophetic text.

Call For Papers

A conference sponsored by The International Association for the
Integrational Study of Language and Communication and The School of
English, The University of Hong Kong

Date: December 2-4, 2010
Location: Ellen and Melvin Gordon Center for Integrative Science, University
of Chicago Conference organisers: David Bade (Joseph Regenstein
Library, University of Chicago), Christopher Hutton (School of English, The
University of Hong Kong), Adrian Pablé (School of English, The University of
Hong Kong).

Please send an abstract (300-500 words) to the following email addresses:
chuttonhku.hk; apablehku.hk
Deadline for abstract submission: October 1, 2010
Participants are to submit a written version of their paper by November 26,
Conference fee: 40 USD (to be paid on registration)


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