Sounding out ideas on language, vivid sensory words, and iconicity

WOCAL10 workshop: Centering pragmatic phenomena on the margins

With the tenth World Congress of African Linguistics around the corner (June 7-12, 2021), let me draw your attention to a workshop we are organizing: Centering pragmatic phenomena on the margins in African languages. Convened by Felix Ameka and Mark Dingemanse, this workshop gathers researchers from at least 8 African universities and from around the world for a report on the latest development in this exciting research area. Workshop abstract:

In pragmatics, as in linguistics in general, various expressive devices that are indispensable in communication have been left on the margins as being non-conventional, non-lexical or non-verbal. This includes a range of interjections, particles, response cries, calls and conversational gestures but also bodily conduct such as sighs, sniffs, coughs, and winks. Despite their ubiquity in everyday interaction, many of these devices are thought of as extra-linguistic or paralinguistic and have consequently been mostly ignored in theoretical and empirical linguistic work. There is a realization on the rise in the language sciences that grappling with these devices holds the key to an understanding of language, the unique feature of the human species. In this workshop, we focus on the interactional uses of linguistic elements, or more broadly semiotic resources, that are traditionally thought of as extra-grammatical, non-lexical, or para-linguistic based on linguistic practices and norms in African communities of practice, with a view to moving them from the margins to the centre in African and general linguistics.

Felix Ameka & mark dingemanse, convenors

The workshop takes place online as part of WOCAL, for which registration is required. Registration is free for participants from the Global South and €50 for others. The fees are used to support the inclusiveness and diversity of the overall programme, including technical support, subtitling, live captioning, sign language interpretation and other measures.

Here’s the programme of our workshop:

Monday June 7, 16:00-18:00 — PRAG 1 🔗

1600-1630Intro | From liminal signs to phatic interjections
Mark Dingemanse
1630-1700Human-animal communication in the Iraqw language
Chrispina Alphonce
1700-1730Human-to-domesticated animal communication in Zargulla
Azeb Amha
1730-1800Masking emotions: a study of Hausa women’s expression of ‘kunya’
Aisha Umar Adamu

Break & possibility for socializing — and then PRAG 2 🔗

1900-1930Emotive interjections in Maasai (Arusa)
Michael Karani, Alexander Andrason
1930-2000Ideophones, interjections and particles: their forms and uses in Dompo
Ester Manu-Barfo
2000-2030Some utterance particles in Amharic conversations
Mulugeta Seyoum
2030-2100Pragmatic borrowing: the case of Tafi, a Ghana-Togo Mountain language
Mercy Bobuafor

Tuesday June 8, 16:00-18:00 — PRAG 3 🔗

1600-1630Forms and functions of backchanneling in Ruruuli and Luganda
Margaret Zellers, Mandy Lorenzen, Saudah Namyalo, Alena Witzlack-Makarevich
1630-1700Clicks as areal verbal gestures in the Lake Chad Basin and beyond
Florian Lionnet
1700-1730Moving clicks and other non-word vocalisations to the centre
Felix Ameka
1730-1800Final discussion All workshop participants (chaired by convenors)

You can download the workshop programme along with all abstracts here:

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