17-21 JUNE 2011

The International Society for the Linguistics of English, the New England Committee for ISLE 2, the English Department and Humanities Foundation of Boston University together announce the society’s second triennial conference.

The theme of the conference will be Methods Past and Current.

Recent studies in corpus linguistics, varieties and typologies, dialects and Standard English, as well as pragmatics prompt examination of methods found conducive to promising results. The choice of the conference’s theme stems from the widely shared view that methods of analysis involve at least the following related questions:

  • How do methods of investigation take into account the data under study?
  • In what ways do linguistic premises, perspectives, and models shape the methods to use?
  • Which methods and models, developed in such disciplines as anthropology, cultural and demographic history, economics, psychology, and textual editing enhance linguistic analysis?
    Do current methods depart in significant ways from those typical of research in the past.

More particular subthemes might include:

  • For studies in corpus linguistics, diverse methods for investigating and analyzing regional, social, and cultural patterns in dialects, varieties, and Standard English.
  • Under the topic typology, analyses of metrics from Old to Modern English, dialects and varieties, written and oral registers, and optimality theory as applied to sound change.
  • From the perspective of reception, methodological designs for perceptual dialectology.
  • For the topic pragmatics, discussion of current methods that are used to determine and explain patterns and changes in the linguistic features of spoken and written English.

The theme and topics presented here outline but by no means exhaust the scope of proposals for talks, poster sessions, and workshops that the New England Committee invites for ISLE 2011. Although this outline of theme and topic is central to the Boston meeting, ISLE will accommodate, as much as possible, outstanding abstracts directed toward other issues. The conference in Boston aims to provide an ample forum for members’ presentations and exchanges, formal and informal, on a wide range of topics.

Plenary speakers for the ISLE 2011 meeting include:

Lisa Green, University of Massachusetts: “Multiple Grammars and Dialectal Variations: A View from the Perspective of Language Development”

Stefan Gries, University of California, Santa Barbara: “The quantitative revolution in corpus linguistics: applications and their theoretical implications”

April McMahon, The University of Edinburgh: “Comparing [laɪk] with [lʌɪk]: Methods for Collecting and Comparing Data from Varieties of English”

Christian Mair, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg: “World Non-Standard Englishes: Reflections on the Global Spread of (Some) Vernacular Varieties of English”

Christopher Ricks, Boston University: “The very words, and not only those”

Sali Tagliamonte, University of Toronto: “System and society in the evolution of change: The case of Canada”

Presidential Address: David Denison, University of Manchester

Eugene Green and Bruce Fraser of The New England Committee ( are glad to respond to preliminary inquiries.

ISLE2’s First Call for Proposals on Workshops and Abstracts on Talks and Poster Sessions now has a deadline of 30 September 2010 for submissions:


The New England Committee invites workshop proposals that address approaches applicable to one or more fields of linguistic analysis.

This call for proposals aims at continuing the tradition of excellence established in Freiburg, 2008. The workshops at ISLE1 had clear themes, almost all the talks offered complementing one another. For example, the workshop on Linguistic Methodology included approaches to corpora and text: techniques for compilation, quantitative analyses, lexical sampling, identifying phrasal units, and framing patterns of pragmatic exchange. The group of eight talks for this workshop also sparked many questions and ideas for further study across genres, dialects, varieties, both current and past. ISLE2 plans to offer a platform for on-going explorations in methodology, generated at ISLE1 or elsewhere.

While there is a preference for workshops on method, ISLE2 also welcomes excellent proposals on other themes.

The Organizing Committee and the Executive Board of ISLE suggest the following format in drafting a proposal, i.e. that it should include:

  1. a 2-page exposition of the theme(s) that the workshop will address, including where appropriate, reference to specific corpora or texts for analysis;
  2. a 1-page bibliography;
  3. an estimate of the likely number of talks that the workshop will encompass;
  4. a list of participants and their affiliations (if already known);
  5. list of equipment needed for presentation.
  6. length of papers (up to twenty minutes plus ten minutes for discussion), and length of the workshop (up to three hours and a half to four hours. There may be a coffee break or even a lunch break.)


The New England Committee in New England invites abstracts for talks and poster sessions. You are free to choose from several fields of English language study, but the thesis of your abstract will be most welcome if it centers on matters of methodology. Talks will be allotted twenty minutes for presentation and ten minutes for discussion. Separate poster sessions (each lasting thirty minutes) will allow presenters to discuss their research with delegates.

In aiming at some coherence for the talks and poster sessions at the meeting, the Committee has a preference for abstracts centered on any of the following fields: corpus linguistics, typology, perceptual dialectology, and pragmatics. These fields include such topics as regional, social, and cultural patterns in dialects, varieties, and Standard English, patterns of exchange in written and oral registers, phonological change, and metrics from Old English on. Though the listed fields and topics are preferred, the committee welcomes excellent presentations on other issues too. Abstracts should include:

  1. a 1-page exposition of the theme for the talk or poster session;
  2. a brief, supportive bibliography;
  3. a list of equipment needed for presentation.


Please submit two copies of your abstract as an email attachment (in plain text or PDF format). One attachment should contain only the proposal or abstract, the other only the author and title of the proposal or abstract. Your proposal should be sent to Eugene Green and Bruce Fraser at the following address:
All speakers at the conference must be members of ISLE.

Faculty University Current Research
Daniel Donohue Harvard Cognitive studies of Old English poetry
Bruce Fraser Boston Pragmatics – discourse markers
Eugene Green Boston Comparing Middle English and Yiddish
Stephen Harris Massachusetts, Amherst Studies in etymology
Janet McIntosh Brandeis Dilemmas in narratives of former Kenyans
Charles Meyer Massachusetts, Boston Corpus linguistics: Modern English grammar
Geoffrey Russom Brown Old English, Old Irish, Middle English meters
Margaret Thomas Boston College History of linguistics, Second language acquisition theory

Photo courtesy of Boston University Photo Services

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