SHESL-HTL conference 2013 – Writing and representations of language and languages

Dates : 25-26 janvier 2013

Location : Pôle des langues et civilisations

Julie Lefebvre, Université de Lorraine, CREM (EA 3476).
Christian Puech, Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle Paris 3, HTL (UMR 7597).

The title has two possible readings : writing as a representation of language, and the place of writing in linguistic description.
As the first “linguistic tool” and “technological revolution” in the arts of language (Auroux 1994), writing emerges as the very condition for the metalinguistic activity that leads, within the history of linguistic ideas, to the “grammatization” (as per Auroux 1994) of languages, to theories about language and languages, and to the birth of linguistic traditions.
On the other hand, linguistic descriptions throughout history and in different cultural contexts have given a special place to writing. What is that place?
The goal of the 2013 SHESL/HTL annual conference is to reexamine the representations which grammatical and linguistic traditions of different times and places have given to writing.

These questions will be examined through three perspectives :

1) Language, writing, text
 Can the history of writing (J. Février, M. Cohen, I. Gelb…) be seen as a theory of writing?
 To what extent do grammatical or linguistic descriptions take into account the difference between written and oral registers?
 What connection is there between linguistic units and units of writing?
 Is the phoneme an artifact, a product of the graphic transposition of speech?
 To what extent does linguistic description take into account the physical properties of writing (medium, page setting, material quality of the text, etc)?

2) Diversity of writing systems and linguistic systems
 Linguistic diversity and the diversity of writing systems (loans, adaptations, changes…)
 Linguistic typologies and typologies of writing systems
 How does a written language evolve after it is no longer spoken?

3) Anthropology, archeology, history
 What do the anthropology, archeology, history of writing teach us about the emergence of an explicit metalinguistic conscience?
 What is the difference between graphic expression (drawings, signs, cave painting …) and writing?
 How does the shift to writing affect an oral language?
– How and why have literacy transmission/acquisition practises spurred on the emergence of grammatical texts and descriptions or contributed to their development? In what form?
Within this general framework, we will consider materials (grammars, treatises, manuals, essays) devoted to the description and/or theorization of language and see to what extent they either directly embrace writing, or make it possible to describe and propose theories about writing.
Even though linguistic structuralisms have made it possible for some of these questions to be treated outside of the exclusive realm of the history of writing, it remains interesting to compare the treatment of the question of writing in other time periods and traditions which have strong connections to writing systems (logographic, pictographic, syllabic, hieroglyphic) and other types of representations.

Scientific committee : Sylvie Archaimbault, Emilie Aussant, Jean-Louis Chiss, Bernard Colombat, Charles de Lamberterie, Béatrice Fraenkel, Jean-Patrick Guillaume, Julie Lefebvre, Christian Puech, Irène Tamba, Akira Terada

Organizing committee : Sylvie Archaimbault, Michèle Ballinger, Valentina Bisconti, Danielle Candel, Bernard Colombat, Jean-Patrick Guillaume, Julie Lefebvre, Jacqueline Léon, Valelia Muni Toke, Christian Puech, Pascale Rabault-Feuerhahn

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