PLM2009 Workshop session: Alternativa in social semiotics

The aim of this PLM session is to expose some hidden dimensions in social semiotics. The session is intended as a follow-up of PLM 2007 Visual Communication session. While in the 2007 session the emphasis was placed on the visual layer, this session, in accordance with the conference leitmotif, concentrates on variability in semiotic modeling. In short, we set out to analyze the linguistic and semiotic resources available for a given speech community to convey alternativeness and sub-standard status (subsuming those spheres of experience that are generally relegated to the unspeakable, "what you were afraid to mention", rubric). We also invite presentations and applications of novel, alternative and non-mainstream models of social semiotics research.

The focal issues subsume, but are not limited to topics such as:

  • stigma and prestige in language;
  • the art of invectives;
  • a linguistic analysis of jokes (the 'possibilities' include: phonetics, phonology, morphology, semantics, sociolinguistics. A caveat: we do not expect the jokes to be still funny after analysis);
  • the substandard varieties of language as an identity clash of subculture with 'high-brow' culture and a means in the discursive construction of the identity of marginalized groups in relation to particular local contexts;
  • the pragmatic or discourse studies of malapropisms, vulgarisms, joker words, misspelling, secret languages, etc.;
  • visual and textual reflections of hidden dimensions of social space;
  • the impact of the unspeakable (taboo).

Sample bibliography

  • Danesi, M. 2004. Messages, signs, and meanings: A basic textbook in semiotics and communication. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press.
  • Hall, S. and T. Jefferson. (eds). 1996. Resistance through rituals: Youth subcultures in post-war Britain. London: Routledge.
  • Halliday, M.A.K. 1978. Language as social semiotic: The social interpretation of language and meaning. Baltimore: University Park Press.
  • Hodge, B. and G. Kress. 1988. Social semiotics. New York: Cornel University Press.
  • Jaworski, A. 1993. The power of silence. London: SAGE.
  • Jaworski, A. and D. Galasiński. 2000. "Strategies of silence: Omission and ambiguity in the Black Book of Polish Censorship". Semiotica 131 (1/2). 185-200.
  • Journal of Sociolinguistics Vol. 4(4), November 2000. Theme issue: "Non-standard  orthography and non-standard speech".
  • McEnery, A. and Z. Ciao. 2004. "Swearing in Modern British English: The case of fuck in the BNC". Language and Literature 13. 235-268.
  • Thibault, P. 1997. Re-reading Saussure. The dynamics of signs in social life. London and New York: Routledge
  • Wierzbicka, A. 2009. "Language and metalanguage: Key issues in emotion research".  Emotion Review. 3-14.
  • Wilson, A. and O. Mudraya. 2006. "Applying an evenness index in quantitative studies of language and culture: A case study of women's shoe styles in contemporary Russia". In: Grzybek P. and R. Köhler (eds.), Exact methods in the study of language and text. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 709-722.

Session organisers

  • Paul Thibault (University of Agder, Kristiansand), email: pauljthibault <at>
  • Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak (Opole University of Technology), email: haladewicz <at>

In the email addresses above, replace "<at>" with "@".

Confirmed speakers

  • Paul Thibault (University of Agder, Kristiansand)
  • Muhammad-Reza Fahkr-Rohani (University of Qom)
  • Helena Pociechina (University of Warmia and Mazury)
  • Dorota Brzozowska (Opole University)
  • Małgorzata Haładewicz-Grzelak (Opole University of Technology), email: haladewicz <at>

Abstract submission procedure

Please follow the general submission guidelines but send your abstract directly to the session organisers.