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Conference Information

Full Title: Language, Gender and Cognition

Location: Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Start Date: 16-Jul-2017 - 21-Jul-2017
Contact: Angeliki Alvanoudi
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: 15th International Pragmatics Conference

Panel on Language, Gender and Cognition

Belfast, Northern Ireland, 16-21 July 2017

The role of language in the construction of gender identities has been the topic of long-standing research in sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and conversation analysis. A number of studies within the ‘discourse’ or ‘performance’ turn in the study of language and gender (Eckert and McConnell-Ginet 2003) examines the role of referential indexing of gender (Ochs 1992) in producing and maintaining a bipolar asymmetrical gender order (e.g. Hall and O’Donovan 1996; Hellinger and Bussmann 2001–2002–2003; Hellinger and Motschenbacher 2015; Kitzinger 2005; McConnell-Ginet 2003; Speer and Stokoe 2011). In claiming that gender is constructed through linguistic practices and that language maintains gender inequality, these studies presuppose or imply that language has a cognitive role, namely, that language mediates the way in which speakers interpret experience. However, studies on language and gender do not address explicitly the relation between language and speakers’ cognition (see Alvanoudi 2014 for an attempt to explore the interface between grammar, gender and speakers’ cognition in Greek). The panel aims at filling this gap, by exploring the relation between indexing of gender and cognition across different languages and cultures. In line with non-formalist approaches within linguistics, cognition is understood as a broad notion that encompasses conceptual categorization, common ground, presuppositions, stereotypes, and inferences, among others, and is interrelated with language and culture.

Questions to be addressed in the panel include the following: (i) Does the use of items that are lexically or grammatically marked as female or male contribute to the construction of sociocultural gender? (ii) Do referential indexes of gender categorize referents as ‘women’ or ‘men’ and generate inferences about the social gender order? (iii) Can we explore conceptualizations of gender at the micro-level of interaction through speakers’ public behavior? (iv) Are there affinities between indexing gender, sociocultural gender practices and speakers’ thinking for speaking (Slobin 1996)? (v) Does the gendered classification of the world introduce and establish sociocultural gender practices, which then “sustain the cognitive style […] required by a particular grammar”, in Bickel’s (2000: 185) words? (vi) How can we use cognition to re-address the concepts of agency, performativity and power in the study of language and gender?

Linguistic Subfield: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 27.2762

This is a session of the following meeting:
15th International Pragmatics Conference

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