British academy

Language, Community, Identity

4.15pm - 6.00pm, followed by a reception

Friday, 11 May 2012

Venue: The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

A panel discussion chaired by Professor Peter Trudgill FBA

Language is central to our sense of our own and others’ identity and value. The way we speak – or react to others speaking – is profoundly influenced by our (conscious or unconscious) desire to express allegiance to (or distance from) communal groupings based on nationality, region, class, gender, age, religion or occupation. The existence of these groups creates a multi-dimensional social context which demands remarkable multi-lingual adroitness on the part of language-users, since we are all members of several communities simultaneously, yet their speech codes may differ widely and their values may be in active conflict.  How did the differences arise? How are  the conflicts resolved? How far does language enable individuals and communities to create, maintain and harmonise their identities? Or was George Bernard Shaw right to claim that ‘it is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him’?

In this panel discussion, co-sponsored by the Philological Society and the British Academy’s Languages and Quantitative Skills Programme (LQS), the findings of recent research will be reviewed and debated by a panel of distinguished sociolinguists, chaired by Professor Peter Trudgill FBA (Agder University) and including Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett (University of Cambridge), Professor Jenny Chesher FBA (Queen Mary, University of London), Dr Devyani Sharma (Queen Mary, University of London) and Professor Dennis Preston (Oklahoma State University)

Registration is not required for this event.  Seats will be allocated on arrival.




Arranged in partnership with the Philological Society