Corpus…hagen!

Hello again! First of all, excuse the title of this post. It hit me on the plane and I actually chuckled to myself before realising (a) I was alone and so my spontaneous laughter looked weird, and (b) it really is a terrible pun. Nonetheless I thought I’d give it a go. Let me know what you think.

Anyway, this week Amanda and I travelled to Copenhagen, Denmark to represent CASS at a set of events organised by the RELINE Legal Linguistics Network at the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of Law. The aim of the two-day series of talks was to explore and promote interdisciplinary thinking between the areas of linguistics and legal research. The first day was a course where PhD students (mainly with a legal interest) could present some of their own research as well as interact with professors Anne Lise Kjaer, Wolfgang Teubert, Vijay Bhatia, Lawrence Solan and Jan Engberg, who each gave talks too. As someone from the “linguistics camp” with almost no knowledge of legal practice it was really interesting to hear about how the analysis of language can be useful in the study of legal documents. Reassuringly, some of the PhD students from a law background told me they were clueless about linguistic analysis, so I suppose that was the point of putting us all together in the same room for the day! The professors on hand each had their own niches of interest and I was particularly excited to meet Larry Solan since I realised fairly early on that I had read one of his articles during the new Forensic Linguistics module this year. He just so happens to be a really nice guy too!

This was also the day where I had a slot to present my undergrad research on the same-sex marriage debate (slides now available here). Had I known, when writing the original assignment during the Easter holidays (and while being ridiculously distracted by rehearsing for this), that I would end up presenting about it in Copenhagen later in the year I would have laughed out loud – a lot. But I was thrilled to be able to give academic presenting a go, and especially in a fairly intimate setting around a table in a meeting room in the beautiful city centre building that contains the Faculty of Law. What’s more – I think it went okay! I managed to stick to time and keep the attention of the room while rabbitting on about same-sex marriage for a few minutes.

The huge selection of Danish pastries I ate for breakfast forced me to sit during my presentation.

The huge selection of Danish pastries I ate for breakfast forced me to sit during my presentation.

The second day was a seminar where the professors from the first day – as well as Amanda – got to present at more length about their work and the interdisciplinary possibilities between linguistic and legal analysis. It seems there is lots of room for further research to be done and I’d love to be involved in this in some way if I can be of use! This was followed by a very pleasant drink on the rooftop terrace above the building and a gorgeous meal at Restaurant Höst where we chatted about future steps in working with the people from Copenhagen again.

Overall it was a great trip and what I’d like to think as a successful first foray into presenting in a non-undergrad academic environment. It was certainly very encouraging to chat with so many interesting people and I’d like to thank CASS for funding my trip. I hope to go back again soon (especially if I can squeeze in another trip to the theme park too!).

5 comments

  1. Good on you Rob. The pun wasn’t terrible at all. It was absolute crap of the purest quality. I have a jaundiced opinion of linguistics studies. Justify.

  2. It’s a long story I’m afraid, one of personal failure and family frustration. I’m not daft, I do know that it’s a good thing, in and of itself, however, when my nephew failed to gain funding for his PhD in Linguistics and was forced to quit the academic life after his Mlitt I questioned the rationale of such study. I mean what good does it do? Really? I don’t play devil’s advocate very well either, by the way.

  3. I study linguistic methods because I am interested in how people use language to communicate. The centre that I’m going to do my postgrad work in is trying to bridge the gap between a particular set of methods of linguistic analysis (corpus linguistics) and wider areas of social science. I see this as an attempt to create more “impact” in the wider community and perhaps prove that linguistics can “do good”. I can’t speak for the field but my personal perspective on why I am doing this is because an opportunity came up where I can continue to do what I have enjoyed studying at university at a higher level and pursue an academic career afterwards. Other people have decided that this sort of research is worth doing – and I’m there to be a small part of that research. I don’t see it as my place quite yet to start asking “what’s the point?” because there is an unspoken assumption that there is indeed a point and that there is a contribution to knowledge to be made by such research. If the opportunity hadn’t have come up I would have likely struggled to find funding too – but since I didn’t have to start looking in the first place I have no idea how accessible such funding is.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s