Guest Blog: reports on IPrA 2015 (1)

I’m delighted to introduce a series of short guest blogs written by friends of ROLSI who were at the Antwerp IPrA conference, and took active roles in Panels and presentations. I’ll be publishing their reflections in a series over the next couple of weeks.

We start with a report by two early-career researchers on their experiences of one of the linguistics world’s largest international meetings, then a report on a panel of papers reporting research on “change-of-state” tokens.

Taru Auranne and Taina Valkeapää: Young researchers’ experiences

The 14th IPrA conference in Antwerp brought together over a thousand scholars from all around the world, from different fields of research, and from many stages of the academic career. Among the numerous seasoned conference-goers, we as two Master students from the University of Helsinki enjoyed our first international conference.

The IPrA conference was an exciting experience for nascent researchers. The general atmosphere was welcoming and international. Choosing from up to sixteen concurrent events (panels/lectures/workshops….) was hard, as so much interesting and top-grade research was being presented. Following Twitter on #IPrA2015 during breaks brought some comfort: there were delightfully many summaries, comments and pictures from different presentations. Hopefully the use of social media will grow in the future, and also the organizer will have an account and contribute to the online discussion.

Looking back on the experience of giving one’s first academic presentation in an international conference, the most important lesson is this: the work and results don’t have to be (or even can’t be) perfect. The questions and comments one receives are valuable ground for growth. Especially poster presentations can be fruitful in the early stages of a research project, if the conference organizers have allocated time for discussing them – as the IPrA 2015 organizers did. Preparing a presentation (whether oral or written) clarifies thoughts and ideas, and feedback at its best broadens ones thinking. It seems that doing research is, in fact, taking part in a conversation!

Taru Auranne, Helsinki University

Taru Auranne, Helsinki University

Taina Valkeapää, Helsinki University

Taina Valkeapää, Helsinki University

Taru Auranne presented her MA thesis in Finnish language in a panel contribution, and Taina Valkeapää had prepared a poster on her MA thesis in sociology. Both theses are conversation analytic and study institutional interaction. Both Auranne and Valkeapää also work in the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Intersubjectivity in Interaction, and have had the privilege of discussing their theses with experienced researchers in the CA-field.

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Galina Bolden: “Oh” and other change-of-state tokens

Galina Bolden, Rutgers University

Galina Bolden, Rutgers University

There were many “aha” moments at the “change-of-state” panel organized by Trine Heinemann and Aino Koivisto. The panel explored how different kinds of changes in a speaker’s cognitive and emotional state might be communicated across a wide spectrum of languages (including Estonian, Japanese, Finnish, Polish, Danish, Dutch, French, Icelandic, and English) and what sorts of actions different change-of-state particles may be deployed in. There appears to be a tremendous cross-linguistic variation both in terms of the diversity of change-of-state particles (from very few, as in English, to many, as in, for example, Japanese) and in terms of meanings that they might convey.

The papers showed that change-of-state particles may be used, for example, to mark surprise, recognition, recollection, noticing, affiliation, and empathy, as well as to expand, curtail, or redirect courses of action. In his concluding remarks on the panel, John Heritage formulated some thought-provoking questions that came out of these studies. How much intrinsic meaning do these particles have and how much comes from the interactional context? How does prosody contribute to enacting and differentiating changes of state? How do these particles fit with other linguistic resources of a language? What accounts for a proliferation of the particles in some languages in contrast to others?

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There will be more guest blogs reporting on IPrA 2015 appearing shortly.

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