In general terms, ICAME conferences aim to provide the research community with a view of the state-of-the-art in English corpus linguistics and corpus linguistics in general.
For ICAME 41 we aim to go beyond this: we would like to discuss how we can take corpus linguistics out of its comfort zone and realize its (inter-)disciplinary potential. Given the great societal challenges we are currently experiencing, Harari (2019: 266) has claimed that “the heat is on” in teaching and education to find solutions. As a result of, for example, (hyper)globalization, digitization, and developments in artificial intelligence and machine-learning, including big data research, we are faced with a growing global and local complexity and interdependence of matter, lives, people and things, which also includes language. However, we have not even begun to understand how all of these issues and concepts will interact (humanely, sensibly, peacefully and sustainably) under the new circumstances of rapid change. Nor have we yet considered what role linguistics and corpus linguistics may have to play in the solution of global challenges, and how education and teaching will consequently have to be transformed in order to do this. Language is everywhere, we use language(s) every day, and language and discourse shape our thinking as well as our lives. And yet, the general public has little knowledge of what linguistics and corpus linguistics is and does. Even though (historical) corpus linguistics has produced pioneering research findings on (quantitative and qualitative) linguistic and other semiotic patterns of language use for more than half a century, and has compiled various kinds of groundbreaking synchronic and diachronic language corpora and developed software tools, the impact of corpus linguistics is still fairly low and its social functions have not been sketched, let alone realized. Therefore, we think there is a need to transfer the methods and insights of corpus linguistics and its related sub-branches to society more forcefully than has been attempted in the past. This involves making accessible the excellent digital research on language, as well as the software, tools and methods of analyzing linguistic data big and small, past and present. Corpus linguistics needs to become more interdisciplinary to contribute to solving the grand societal challenges and to emphasize that language is the crucial social and cultural factor in human interaction. At the same time, the corpus linguistic community needs to take on responsibility for educating and training the next generation, with these challenges in mind as they do so.
Hence, we have chosen the following theme for this conference:
Language and Linguistics in a Complex World:
Data, Interdisciplinarity, Transfer, and the Next Generation.
Besides facilitating the exchange and discussion of cutting-edge research, our aim is to:
- make participants reflect upon the relevance of their research for the community and society generally, and consider how it can be transferred through, for example, communication, counseling or even patent management;
- make participants think about ways in which we can join forces to find answers to the grand societal challenges, which are always interdisciplinary and can only be addressed in teams. Applying our methodologies and approaches to “real-world problems” and communicating well the value that corpus linguistics can bring to different areas and domains, will also facilitate the renewal of corpus linguistics as a methodology/discipline;
- critically discuss the interplay between artificial intelligence and corpus linguistics and address the growing divide between ‘traditional’ corpus linguistics and primarily tech-driven emerging fields such as ‘data science’ and ‘natural language processing;
- set up topic-related working groups of senior and junior experts that address these aims and volunteer, for example, to prepare innovative (digital) teaching and learning material and environments for the next generation of students of corpus linguistics and junior researchers.
ICAME 41 will, following and extending the traditions of the conference, offer six presentation and exchange formats (also see Program):
- pre-conference workshops including software demos
- a poster presentation session
- paper presentations
- a panel discussion “At the Tipping Point: Communication, (Corpus) Linguistics and (Linguistic) Education”
- a new 2h-workshop session “Corpus linguistics goes public”
Harari, Yuval Noah. 21 Lessons for the 21st century. Penguin: 2018.