CfP: Panel on Political Conceptualization of Linguistic Thought, HSS 2019

Posted on 9 November 2018 at 2:11 pm
Last updated on 9 November 2018 at 2:11 pm

We are hoping to organize a panel of papers on the political conceptualization of linguistic thought at the 2019 colloquium of the Henry Sweet Society and would like to hear from other researchers interested in presenting a paper, with 20 minutes’ speaking time and 10 minutes for questions. If you are interested in participating or would like to discuss this further, please contact Ji Ma ( We will need to receive a provisional title and a short (no longer than 250-word) abstract of your contribution by 15 February 2019.

Instead of focusing entirely on the scientific content of historical writings on language, this panel discussion aims to highlight how the ideology and rhetoric of linguistic ideas were informed by the theory and practice of politics in history. There are at least five ways in which linguistic ideas are connected to politics. First, the emergence of a linguistic idea is often motivated by a certain political purpose. Second, a scholar’s linguistic thought may be influenced by his political stance or prejudice (as some scholars have argued in the case of Wilhelm von Humboldt). Third, a scholar’s political motivation (e.g. colonial or post-colonial control) exerts an influence on his grammatical description of a certain language (which might be described in other ways if not for that political purpose). Fourth, a certain political theory is used as a metaphor in expounding a certain linguistic theory. Fifth, a popular political metaphor or a pre-existing political rhetoric is brought into linguistic texts to explain an idea about language.