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Conference Information

Full Title: Implicitness & Experimental Methods

Location: Tokyo, Japan
Start Date: 07-Aug-2017 - 11-Aug-2017
Contact: Laura Rosseel
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Workshop at Methods in Dialectology XVI: Implicitness and experimental methods in language variation research

Implicitness, whether it is used in the context of language attitude research (Garrett 2010), work on language regard (Preston 2010) or studies focussing on the social meaning of language variation (Campbell-Kibler 2007), is a problematic concept in linguistics. Few researchers have taken up the challenge of reflecting on, and defining its nature, let alone that anyone has ever pinpointed its theoretical significance or how exactly we can measure it.

Firstly, from a conceptual point of view, several definitions and interpretations of implicitness have been put forward, but in linguistics the focus tends to be on awareness/level of consciousness (e.g. Labov 1972; Kristiansen 2009; Garrett 2010; Grondelaers & Kristiansen 2013; Preston 2013; Preston 2015). In social psychology, by contrast, the concept of implicitness has been questioned extensively and researchers have proposed multidimensional definitions that recognize more facets in the concept of implicitness than just awareness, facets which are not usually considered in linguistic research. Implicitness in this field is usually understood in terms of automaticity which comprises multiple features (unintentionality, resource-independence, uncontrollability as well as unconsciousness) that need not all be present, but can qualify the way in which the outcome of an attitude measure is implicit (De Houwer et al. 2009; De Houwer & Moors 2010; Gawronski & De Houwer 2014). Such definitions of implicitness seems to allow for a conceptualization in terms of gradience, or a continuum between implicitness and explicitness.

Secondly, when it comes to the theoretical importance of implicitness, it has been claimed that implicit, private, deep evaluations can access the perceptual correlates of linguistic change (Grondelaers & Kristiansen 2013; Kristiansen 2010; Preston 2013). However, studies like Soukup (2013) which showcases that the use of an open guise technique (where participants are aware of the fact that one speaker uses different language varieties), claim to be able to explain language variation in certain contexts. This may raise questions like: do we always need implicit measures? What is the theoretical significance of implicitness in the study of language variation and change? Should it occupy a privileged position when it comes to explaining the driving force behind language change as suggested by Kristiansen (2010) contrary to for instance Labov’s (2001) current more anti-subjective position?

Finally, challenging the linguistic conception of implicitness has important methodological consequences. If we ask ourselves the question what exactly we mean by implicitness, and if we should find that it is a multifaceted concept, we should also ask ourselves which aspect of implicitness we are measuring with specific methods and tools. This goes for traditional sociolinguistic methods like matched guise experiments, but the question is especially relevant in the context of the recent upsurge in social psychological measures to study implicit associations, such as the Implicit Association Test (Greenwald 1998), in linguistic research (e.g. Campbell-Kibler 2012).
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Psycholinguistics; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 27.4604

This is a session of the following meeting:
16th International Conference on Methods in Dialectology

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