Linguistics Colloquium – Dennis Preston (05/21/10)

Dennis PrestonThis week’s colloquium will be given by Dennis Preston, and is entitled “The Cognitive Underpinnings of Language Regard.” Dr. Preston is a guest speaker from Oklahoma State, and is one of the big names in language attitude research today. Abstract below.


The Cognitive Underpinnings of Language Regard
Dennis Preston
Regents Professor
Department of English
Oklahoma State University

Friday, May 21, 2010
3:30 – 5:00 p.m.
Smith Hall 205

Modern linguistics has been especially concerned with the cognitive factors that lie behind language production, whether they are placed in a language module or are a selection of more general capacities. We also now seem to agree that comprehension is not simply the unpacking of production, using (backwards, one assumes) the same capacities that allowed for language delivery in the first place (if indeed it is the “first place”). Our newer attitudes to perception and comprehension have caused us to look at them as well from other points of view, not downplaying the intimacy of their relationship but often assigning cognitive strategies to one area or the other that may have been independently arrived at. In this presentation I want to focus on even newer research that suggests that how we regard language influences not only what we choose to do, the most typical research area of sociolinguistics, but also what we perceive (and therefore comprehend). If this is so, then studies of language regard (attitudes, folk beliefs and theories, and ideologies) are interesting not only for their ethnographic and social psychological value but also for the role they may play in more general concerns of language variation and change on the one hand and perception on the other. I will outline the relationships among production, perception (comprehension), and regard on the basis of several experimental, survey, and qualitative research findings and try to develop a linguistically oriented cognitive model
of language regard.

Reception to follow in same room.

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