Annual conference of the ‘Belgian Association of Anglicists in Higher Education’ on Intensity

30-Nov-2018 – 30-Nov-2018, Mons, Belgium

At first sight, intensity is a clear, readily understandable notion, yet it evokes a wide array of interpretations and can be linked with a high semantic-pragmatic, syntactic and stylistic complexity. Intensity, understood here very broadly as the quality to deviate from neutrality, pervades and shapes our daily life, our actions and our language. Intensity permeates language at all linguistic levels, allowing us to encode emotional attitude – from subtle nuances to very strong emotions – or to increase or attenuate the (emotional) impact of our utterances. As Partington (1993: 178) said in relation to intensification, its importance lies in “that it is a vehicle for impressing, praising, persuading, insulting and generally influencing the listener’s reception of the message”. As a pervasive concept, omnipresent in language, intensity allows for a wide variety of approaches from each of the fields brought together by BAAHE, literature, cultural studies, linguistics, translation studies and ELT.

Invited speaker: Belén Méndez-Naya (Universidad de Santiago de Compostela)

Call for Papers:
In linguistics, intensity is most obviously represented in studies of intensification and (inter)subjectivity/-ation, politeness, and modality. Intensity has also been under scrutiny in sign language studies. Almost 40 years ago, Klima & Bellugi (1979) studied the morphological marking of intensification in ASL. More recently, intensity has been studied as the expression of emotion through technological means such as the use of emoticons and Internet slang. In addition, intensity is a prominent concept in metaphor studies, with INTENSITY IS HEAT being one of the most central metaphors (Kövecses 2005). As indicating an increase or decrease in the salience of or attention on a linguistic entity, intensity is also related to topic and focus markers and, in phonology, is understood to refer to pitch accent and stress. (Multimodal) studies on paralinguistic features accompanying intensity such as prosodic peaks and gestures also provide interesting avenues of research.

In translation studies, intensity can be an equally rich field of study. How do translators convey emotions and intensity in the target language? Do they necessarily resort to explicitation? Cultural and language-system related differences might also play a role here. How can we compare intensity across cultures? Is intensity categorized differently across cultures? How do cross-cultural differences influence the translation process or result? When translating intensity does the translator (succeed to) take into account  »the effusiveness of Italian, the formality and stiffness of German and Russian, the impersonality of French » compared to  »the informality and understatement of English » (Newmark 1988:5)?
Intensity is crucial from an ELT perspective as well, with intensification being  »an important and, beyond the elementary level, intricate part of foreign language learning » (Lorenz 1999:26). Whether acquiring the ability to express complex communicative intentions, the ability to use appropriate registers or the idiomatic use of adverbs with adjectives, learners are faced with intensity throughout their learning process.

In literature, both in fiction and non-fiction, intensity most often refers to the authenticity or appropriateness of emotional discourse. From passionate outbursts to pent-up emotions, literature abounds with instances of epideictic discourse or appeal to pathos. Throughout history, literary traditions have sought to unleash or restrain the intensity of emotional material. Most typically, the shift from classicism to Romanticism embodies a move from ethos to pathos, from emphasis on design and structure to the intensity Keats came to praise as  »the excellence of every art » (Hilfer 1981:7).

Please submit your anonymized proposal (400 words, excluding references) to Authors can submit a maximum of two abstracts if at least one of these is co-authored.

Accepted papers will be allocated 20 min. + 10 min. for discussion.
Notification of acceptance: 20 July 2018