After a protracted pandemic-related pause, the iMean conference returns in 2024. The conference adheres to its original broad theme of Meaning in Social Interaction with a particular focus on Language and Inclusion.
Social inclusion mediated through language
Language can (be used to) increase or decrease an individual’s or group’s sense of social inclusion. The history of the 21st century thus far shows little evidence of any progress made in the direction of greater equality or social justice. The conference thus welcomes papers which analyse the way that language can help or hinder inclusion, or potentially result in exclusion. This includes, but is not limited to, empirical studies of:
- the ways that the justice system, politicians, news outlets and social media use language to cast events in a particular light
- the perceptions of the non-standard language used by language learners and children with speech and language impairment.
Language structure shaped through social inclusion
But the desire for inclusion can also shape language, through the development of particular language policies aimed at promoting greater equality – the loss of grammatical gender in Dutch and the use of particular pronouns such as ‘they, them’ in English spring to mind.
The conference thus also welcomes studies which look at such developments in the language – and in the criticism which is sometimes evoked by such developments with epithets such as ‘politically correct’ or ‘woke-ism’, serving to try to undermine legitimate attempts to combat discrimination.
In a similar vein, we welcome reports of studies which look at the way that social inclusiveness has an impact on language structure, at various levels of linguistic analysis.
Call for papers
We welcome proposals for papers which address the following questions:
- how is language used in society to promote or inhibit inclusion? (Here we would expect focused studies in e.g. the forensic, media, educational, health or justice fields.)
- how does the way that language is used for inclusivity impact on its structure? (Here we would expect detailed studies at the phonological, grammatical, semantic and discourse-pragmatic levels.)
- Dr Aditi Bhatia, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
- Professor Innocent Chiluwa, University of Freiburg
- Dr Federica Formato, University of Brighton
- Professor Rodney Jones, University of Reading
- Professor Yvonne Wren, Bristol Speech & Language Therapy Research Unit.
The conference will host the following panels to which you can propose a paper:
- Professor Jo Angouri and Professor Meredith Marra: Advancing inclusion in the workplace.
- Dr Kate Beeching: Discourse markers and inclusion.
- Dr Kate Steel: Language, inclusion and the law.
- Professor Yvonne Wren: Promoting inclusion through speech and language therapy.
Or you can propose your own panel (with a minimum of four thematically focused papers). Contact Kate Beeching (email@example.com) if you would like to propose a panel.
We also welcome proposals for posters.
Your abstract should be about 300 words long, and may include citations but no references list.
Abstract submission deadline: Tuesday 14 November 2023.