“Eugenio Coseriu and the Present-Day Linguistics”, as part of the 6th edition of The International Conference “Zilele Sextil Pușcariu”, September 14-15, 2023
The International Colloquium “Eugenio Coseriu and the Present-Day Linguistics” held on September 14-15, 2023, as part of the 6th edition of The International Conference “Zilele Sextil Pușcariu”, upon Elena Faur and Mircea Minica’s worth acknowledging initiative and successful organisation. This opportunity brought together scholars to explore Eugenio Coseriu’s profound influence on contemporary linguistics. Recognised as one of the most influential linguists of the 20th century, Coseriu’s work transcends traditional boundaries, integrating linguistic theory with aesthetics, politics, and the philosophy of language. The colloquium addressed various facets of Coseriu’s contributions beyond linguistics.
Johannes Kabatek opened the presentation panel with a synopsis of the just published volume on Coseriu’s work, which is to be seen as a breakthrough not only for bridging the gap to the Anglo-American audience, but rather for the diverse approaches of Coseriu’s biography and oeuvre, i.e. aesthetics, politics and creativity, building potential and valuable connections to further explore, integrate and disseminate his ideas. It serves as both a concise introduction and a resource for in-depth exploration of Coseriu’s work.
Although there is no direct evidence of this influence, Mircea Borcilă made it apparent that it is possible that Coseriu was familiar with Sextil Pușcariu’s work, as they both contributed to the field of linguistics beyond dialectology. Coseriu’s ideas on the relationship between language and culture align with themes that Pușcariu explored, making it plausible that there could have been some intellectual influence or shared insights between these two linguists, drawing on a passionate discussion upon integral linguistics.
Floarea Vîrban discussed the research endeavor to connect Coseriu’s ideas with Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogical theory, stressing the need for dialogue between these “Big Absents” to advance human sciences. The presentation aimed to explore terminology, intellectual roots and networks, concept delineation, and the role of language in their works.
Ciprian Speranza explored a possible connection between H. Blumenberg and E. Coseriu. Their specific stances reveal the intricate connection between language, metaphors, and history of ideas, shedding light on the profound influence of linguistic dimensions on human cognition. Their perspectives, one focused on concepts and metaphors, the other on language’s impact on
temporal understanding, offer a comprehensive foundation for studying human sciences and proposes an enriched view of Coseriu’s work through what Blumenberg coins an “anthropology of rhetoric”, viewed as strategic communication.
Cornel Vîlcu, in the programmatic title “Language’s Role in Shaping Our Understanding of Time” showcased a visually striking and thought-provoking discussion about E. Coseriu’s perspective on language’s role in shaping our understanding of time. Coseriu’s insights emphasised language’s vital role in extending our comprehension of time, shaping our perception of reality, and Cornel facilitated shared understanding by opening philosophical accounts of time by generously drawing on Bergson and phenomenology.
Oana Boc’s primary focus was on maximising language’s potential within poetry, highlighting its transformative capacity for creative expression. She delved therefore into the perspectives of Coseriu and Jakobson on literary textuality and enriched with Heidegger’s account on language, fruitfully drawing from the Aristotelian distinction of technē and poiēsis.
As for Oscar Loureda Lamas, E. Coseriu’s work revolves around the semiotic dimension in linguistics, particularly in textual analysis with the aim to salvage stylistics and establish hermeneutics for text meaning. Coseriu focuses on discourse rather than interactional discourse and doesn't pay much attention to the universal level of language, which regulates how signs and contexts interact. His work critiques Croce’s aesthetics and seeks to identify specific areas in a text where semiotic determination occurs, all while maintaining a strong emphasis on preserving stylistics and hermeneutics in speech analysis.
Emma Tămâianu-Morita reexamined Coseriu’s 1987 study on “Expression Gaps” in Cavafy’s poem “In the Month of Athyr”. These omissions enrich a text’s meaning. The objectives are to enhance text linguistics by viewing “expression gaps” as a text-constitutive procedure and to explore their role in hierarchical sense construction, offering valuable insights into text analysis and application.
Klaas Willems explored the importance of Coseriu’s language theory in contemporary linguistics. It begins by examining Coseriu’s presence (or absence) in recent linguistic handbooks from an external perspective. Then, it delves into the significance of Coseriu’s work from an internal viewpoint, focusing on his intricate theory of meaning. Specific attention is given to his typologies of meaning, which include the three levels of language, types of unitary meaning, and the complex of grammatical meaning. The presentation also aims to clarify misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding these typologies in the literature. Coseriu’s theory of “features” was addressed too, which has often been misinterpreted and overlooked in international scholarly discussions.
Keita Ikarashi’s presentation explored Japanese role language, where expressions are linked to character types. It draws from Kinsui’s work on Role Language in Japanese linguistics. The need for a refined definition becomes apparent as research advances. Guided by Eugenio Coseriu’s integral linguistics, it offered a fresh perspective to comprehensively define role language.
We had the opportunity to explore distinctions proposed by Dinu Moscal in approaching relevant aspects of language’s representational functions, through designation and reference models. The study of the significance of proper names involves delving into the layers of meaning and context that make them unique identifiers.
Dina Vîlcu assessed the profound changes in Romanian society due to the 1989 Revolution and EU accession in 2007, leading to a significant Romanian Diaspora. It focuses on the cultural and linguistic shifts within these communities, particularly among the second generation. The presentation highlights the factors influencing language changes and the importance of preserving Romanian in the Diaspora, with the introduction of a new tool, the test of Romanian as a foreign language, discussed in the Spanish context.
Cristina Varga’s “Exploring Non-Canonical Language in Translation: A Coserian Approach” delved into the challenge of translating non-canonical language usage in the context of humor, irony, and more. She drew from Coseriu’s perspective, which defines translation as a unique form of communication. The study focuses on strategies used in translating non-canonical language signs into Romanian, using Asterix and Obelix comic strips as examples. This research is valuable for translators, educators, and students interested in the nuanced aspects of translation, especially within the context of comics in Romanian.
Elena Faur tackled in “Metaphor Identification in Discourse: A Comparative Analysis” the challenge of identifying metaphorical language in discourse. It discusses two methods: Metaphor Identification Procedure (MIP) and J. Zlatev’s cognitive semiotics approach. While MIP uses specific tools in corpus linguistics but struggles with novel metaphors, J. Zlatev’s method incorporates researcher intuition and “intersubjective” elements. The study’s results highlight the effectiveness of these approaches.
Iulia-Veronica Pop and Amalia-Diana Barbă illustrated the University of Tübingen’s response to host E. Coşeriu’s personal library, consisting of over 8,000 valuable volumes in linguistics and related fields. A remarkable aspect of this collection is the discovery of more than 500 titles with dedications from authors to Coşeriu, revealing a world of connections and personal insights. The presentation explored audio-visually these dedications, providing a
glimpse into Coşeriu’s multifaceted personality and the unique bonds he formed with colleagues, friends and scholars. It is worthwhile mentioning the visit to the E. Coșeriu’s fund in the collections of the Central University Library “Lucian Blaga”, once the sessions were over.
Ana Maria Agud Aparicio masterfully presented a critical perspective on Eugenio Coseriu's “integral linguistics”. While Coseriu aimed to develop a philosophically grounded empirical linguistics and made significant contributions to structural linguistics, the author takes a more skeptical stance. The author seeks to bridge the gap between linguistic analysis and its philosophical underpinnings, making implicit assumptions explicit and critically examining them. The goal is to develop a more humanistic understanding of language and promote critical linguistic education, fostering a deeper appreciation for the richness and complexities of human language, akin to how Coseriu himself enjoyed languages and literature.
In summary, the colloquium showcased the enduring relevance of E. Coseriu’s work and the diverse ways in which his comprehensive approach continues to inspire and shape contemporary linguistics.
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