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“Culture in Language – Variation in Research”

July 18-20, 2014 took place the annual conference of the Professorship of English Language and Linguistics with the topic “Culture in Language: Variation in Research”

  • The conference attracted many international guests who shared their research topics in the Heizhaus of TU Chemnitz. Photo: Jessica Küchler

The annual conference organised by the English specialists from Technische Universität Chemnitz brought 22 international visitors to the Heizhaus on July 18-20, 2014. They met with Bachelor, Master and PhD students of the Professorship of English Language and Linguistics, whose projects are supervised by Prof. Dr. Josef Schmied. The aim of the 2014 conference is to showcase student projects to a wider audience, add specific approaches of the international ERASMUS partners, and meet the partners from a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) project on “Academic Writing for SE Europe”. The objective of this international conference is also to combine socio-, corpus- and cognitive-linguistic perspectives and stress multiple methodological approaches to current research and applications, mainly in English language teaching and academic writing. "Empirical studies in language variation is a fascinating topic – especially when they emphasize cultural dimensions of English around the world", said Prof. Schmied, adding: "The thematic focus of this year`s conference was `Culture in Language – Variation in Research´."

On the first day of the conference, the attention was focused on Africa and a study on the different variations of the English language. After a short welcome by Prof. Schmied, the first speaker of the day was Prof. Tunde Opeibi, from the University of Lagos. He has been awarded a fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Since March 2014 Prof. Opeibi has been conducting his research on the usage of new media in politics at the Professorship of English Language and Linguistics at TU Chemnitz.

Every year, visitors appreciate the variety of presentations, from interim reports on current BA projects (e.g. on Manipulation in Inaugural Speeches by US Presidents since World War II) to qualified Alexander-von-Humboldt state-of-the-art research surveys (e.g. on New Media Technologies and Civic Engagement in Nigeria). As usual, PhD projects concentrated on cultural variations of English in Africa, like the development of African English in Ghana or the influence of English on African languages like Kiswahili. Academic writing projects were presented by PhD researchers from Ghana and Tanzania as well as by visiting scholars from Oxford and Milan. A particularly interesting section was devoted to English writing in Albania, Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo.

"I really like this conference for many reasons. I think it is a great idea to gather people from different countries and different cultures", said Dr. Monica Kopytowska, who is affiliated at the Department of Pragmatics at the University of Lodz in Poland, adding: "What I like most about this conference is the interaction between established researchers and novices, between the flow of ideas and comprehension. There is nothing similar in our university."

On the last day, international guests concluded with the joint excursion to Loket and Karlovy Vary. "This year fewer ERASMUS partners presented their research than last year, because next year a much bigger conference is planned focussing on academic writing, one of the key research areas in Chemnitz. Then German, Italian and Spanish MA students and their professors will continue to compare cultural conventions in writing theses and delivering presentations, not only in Southern and South Eastern Europe, but also in Poland, China and Africa, of course", announced Prof. Schmied. This larger project also includes a workshop and a summer school in Albania, where the Chemnitz specialists will meet their partners again in September.

More details and pictures can be found on the conference webpage:

(Author: Nataliia Boiko)

Katharina Thehos

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