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Register II: Emergence, Change and Obsolescence
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5/22/2013 to 5/24/2013
When: 5/24/2013
Where: Helsinki

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Register II: Emergence, Change and Obsolescence
An international colloquium on meaning and human expression, 22nd–24th May 2013, Helsinki, Finland

‘Register’ originated as a term in linguistics for contextual variation in language, or language as it is used in a particular communicative situation. This term and concept has become important for addressing communication through practice in several intersecting disciplines, such as folkloristics, linguistics and linguistic anthropology, being used with varying fields of inclusion and exclusion, ranging from the purely verbal level of communication to all features which have the capacity to signify (props, gestures, etc.). The Helsinki Register colloquia have been organized to bring together representatives of diverse perspectives in order to open cross-disciplinary discussion of the term and concept ‘register’.

Register II sets out to explore interfaces of social, societal and semiotic processes that a) give rise to registers as meaningful constellations of communicative features; b) affect existing registers and their constituent features; and c) lead registers to become obsolete for certain functions or to drop out of use. We invite presentations on both synchronically oriented research and on long-term historical perspectives; on rapidly developing or short-lived registers (e.g. school-yard slang, ‘facebookese’) as well as on registers characterized by social stability and slow-changing structures (e.g. ‘Biblical’ language, oral epic singing). We hope that diverse presentations from different disciplinary perspectives on the life of registers as social practice will prove reciprocally informative and produce new insights and understandings.

Keynote speakers:

Douglas Biber, Regents’ Professor of Applied Linguistics, Northern Arizona University, USA

Charles Briggs, Alan Dundes Distinguished Professor of Folklore and Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Ruqaiya Hasan, Emeritus Professor of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Australia

Timo Kaartinen, Adjunct Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki, Finland

Lars Boje Mortensen, Professor of Cultural History of Antiquity and the Middle Ages, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

If you would like to take part in this event by presenting a paper, please send an abstracts of no more than 500 words to Ulla Savolainen ( by January 6, 2013.

Papers presentations should be twenty minutes in length allowing ten minutes for discussion and accessible to participants from other fields for cross-disciplinary discussion. If you would like to participate without presenting a paper, please let us know by March 15th, and also whether you would be interested in moderating a session. A participation fee of 50€ covers lunches and receptions.


Folklore Studies of the University of Helsinki <>

Finnish Literature Society: The research project Oral and Literary Culture in the Medieval and Early Modern Baltic Sea Region:

For more information, please visit our website at or

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