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EVENT: Linguistics Seminar Series

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Today's date is Friday, June 21, 2019
Linguistics Seminar Series : Debunking urban myths Language and conceptions of time in Aboriginal Australia Other events...
The idea that ‘for Aboriginal people in Australia, time is cyclic’ has been floating around for a long time, mostly as a folk commonplace, but also occasionally in scholarly contributions. Reference is regularly made in these contexts to the concept of ‘Dreamtime’, which is supposed to encapsulate a distinctive Aboriginal conception of time (e.g. Goddard & Wierzbicka 2015; Austin 1998). Often, language is called upon as evidence, based on the assumption that linguistic structures reflect speakers’ shared conceptual representations (Whorf 1956). Beyond folk theories, the hypothesis that linguistic structures in Australian Indigenous languages reflect the ‘Dreamtime’ concept of time both lexically and grammatically has also been proposed (Austin 1998:4), albeit not developed. These views deserve further discussion, as it is not clear what it means for a group of people to hold a ‘cyclic conception of time’; equally, the relations between language and thought can be argued to be much more intricate than the above claims suggest. In this talk, we will examine both lexical and grammatical categories in different Australian Indigenous languages in order to assess firstly, whether we can make sense of the notion of cyclic time from an ethnographic point of view; and secondly, whether linguistic structures can tell us anything about a concept of time.
Speaker(s) Maïa Ponsonnet and Marie-Eve Ritz
Location Social Sciences Building, Room 2.63
Contact Maïa Ponsonnet <maia.ponsonnet@uwa.edu.au>
Start Fri, 26 Apr 2019 11:00
End Fri, 26 Apr 2019 12:30
Submitted by Karen Eichorn <ss@uwa.edu.au>
Last Updated Thu, 18 Apr 2019 13:31
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