Introduction: The place of Linguistics in Conflict Resolution Studies

Lesley Jeffries, Dave Webb

University of Huddersfield, UK, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

WS211: Language in Conflict

The study of conflict and its resolution has become a well-recognised academic discipline in recent years. Whilst some writers on conflict acknowledge the importance of language, there is little research in this field, beyond the recognition that certain kinds of communicative errors such as mistranslations or misunderstandings and deliberate misuse (i.e. misleading or deliberately unclear) may contribute to, or cause, conflict. Some Conflict Resolution theorists consider the communicative dimensions of conflict resolution under three headings: Interactive Dialogical and Discursive.

These discussions of communication in conflict have mostly drawn upon critical and cultural theories of discourse and hermeneutics, and have so far made little use of theories of interaction and communication and tools of analysis derived from linguistic research. There is, therefore, scope for the concepts of pragmatics, critical discourse analysis, stylistics and sociolinguistics to be exploited in the study of conflict and its resolution.

Using examples taken from different kinds of conflict, we aim to begin the process of using linguistic knowledge to understand more about conflict.

This new field of enquiry has the potential to encompass all aspects of communication and language, from face-to-face interaction to historical and cultural change in language and its impact on conflict. This workshop will explore some of the linguistic approaches that may be used to explore conflict. There will be time for discussion about how other approaches may also be used for this purpose in the future.

Session: Workshop: Language in Conflict
Friday, April 4, 2008, 15:45-17:15
room: 18