25-26 October 2018

International Conference

"New Words and Linguistic Purism (NWLP)"


On 25 and 26 October, the Department of Translation Studies (INTRAWI) hosted a conference on the different attitudes to language change, focused on the appearance of new words. Based on reports from many different languages, international experts discussed the tension between a purely descriptive attitude to new words and the request for linguistic guidance.

From left to right: Sara Aufinger, Laura Rebosio, Pius ten Hacken, Maria Koliopoulou

The conference theme was the reaction by linguists and the speech community to the appearance of new words in a language. Especially borrowings tend to be controversial. Whereas linguists and lexicographers often have the idea that they should refrain from prescribing, the general public often asks for linguistic guidance. Keynote lectures by Carla Marello (Torino) and Angela Ralli (Patras) presented the situation in Italian and Greek. Other presentations focussed on German, Dutch, French, Catalan, Italian, Slovak, Greek, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, and Arabic.

At the start, Pius ten Hacken presented some theoretical background about the status of language norms and new words in relation to empirical reality. An issue that appeared in many presentations and was prominent in Marello’s keynote lecture was the acceptance of Anglicisms. Another issue her lecture highlighted was the status and mode of operation of language academies. In Ralli’s keynote lecture, the issue of morphological adaptation to the system of the recipient language was highlighted. Most presentations focussed on the specific circumstances surrounding the appearance and acceptance of new words without taking a firm position as to whether these words were desirable or not. Word formation and borrowing, the latter mainly from English, are often necessary to name new concepts. The situation is slightly different in each language because of the differences in language systems and in the status of institutional authorities for the language. In some presentations, the concern about the integrity of the language led to a more prescriptive perspective, aiming in particular to counter the trend for Anglicisms. The discussion among participants from different backgrounds resulted in a mutual enrichment of ideas. This was supported by a good mix of senior researchers, more junior researchers and graduate students. The programme and the book of abstracts are available at the conference website.

Website: https://www.uibk.ac.at/congress/nwlp/

Author: Univ.-Prof. Dr. Pius ten Hacken
Photographic rights: Sandra Reiter

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