Presentation : La disciplinarisation des savoirs linguistiques : Histoire et épistémologie

Dossiers d’HEL n°5
La disciplinarisation des savoirs linguistiques. Histoire et épistémologie
Numéro dirigé par Jean-Louis Chiss, Dan Savatovsky, Danielle Candel et Jacqueline Léon
© SHESL 2012

Proceedings of the SHESL-HTL Conference 2010, 29th-30th January 2010, Paris, France


This issue is devoted to the historical evolution of linguistic knowledge toward a full-fledged discipline, a process referred to here as disciplinarization. The period under focus spans the 19 th and 20 th centuries, though reference is made to more remote periods and different linguistic traditions. Disciplinarization involves a number of issues which relate to the conditions in which the various forms of linguistic inquiry have come to stabilize into a body of knowledge, and to the ways in which this body of knowledge has been transmitted (through the founding of schools and traditions, the creation of university chairs, specialized journals, research teams, academic societies, the organization of conferences, etc.). Due consideration has been paid to :

– The dissemination of linguistic knowledge beyond the academic circle as well as to the various types of technical or social application of this knowledge. In this respect, educational aspects are the most relevant, since they are at the crossroads of dissemination and application. They concern the “projection” of a body of linguistic knowledge to the field of language instruction, be it at primary and secondary school level or in higher education. Beyond educational aspects, beyond monographs on authors or a specific school or tradition, some papers question from a more general standpoint the meaning and the very validity of the notion of application (or applied linguistics), as it has been used (and still is) in theories of language.

– The ways in which linguistic research has been or is organized and structured in different countries and cultures, and at different times (movements and schools, their affiliation to religious or philosophical traditions; procedures for sanctioning academic achievements; the structuring of research programs and teams; recruitment procedures for the hiring of academic staff etc.). To this we may add, as another aspect of disciplinarization, the reflections that linguists and grammarians of all times have conducted on the history of their own field.

– The institutional, political and social aspects of the linguist’s work which are consequent upon the newly emerging status of linguistics as a professional practice. In this respect, the fields to which linguists apply their expertise deserve special attention (linguistic policies and planning, educational policies, the emergence and development of “language professions”, etc.). Of direct relevance too are the various technical applications of linguistics developed in recent times, such as machine translation and man-machine dialogue systems, Natural Language Processing, etc.

– Historical and epistemological reflections on the notion of application itself, and on the “applicationist trend” in the field of language teaching (whether of the mother tongue or of foreign languages). We believe that the latter issue, which was hotly debated in the 1980s-1990s, is worth revisiting. Finally, it may be profitable to examine the repercussions on linguistic research of all forms of social demand, most notably (though not exclusively) when this demand emanates from the educational community.

The proceedings are organized following three issues :

A – Disciplinarization of linguistics and diversity of fields

B – Linguistic knowledge : disciplinary boarders and institutions (traditions, schools, chairs, journals)

C – Didactization of linguistic knowledge


Société d'histoire et d'épistémologie des sciences du langage