For university faculty, summer does not simply equal vacation. It is also a prime time for international conferences that are part of our work as researchers. In the end of August, historical linguists flocked to Essen, Germany for the 19th biennial ICEHL conference (22–26 August). ICEHL stands for “International Conference on English Historical Linguistics”.
The four conference days were packed with excellent plenaries and fascinating papers on all aspects of English historical linguistics – for example pragmatics, speech representation, syntax, variation, language contact, phonology and semantics. Together, the papers covered a millennium of the story of English, from Old English to Late Modern English. You can take a look at the programme here.
Our Philological Track was well represented in the conference. Hanna Salmi gave a paper on verse and prose debates in early modern England. Aleksi Mäkilähde discussed his pragmaphilological approach to the study of language choice in Early Modern English school drama. Janne Skaffari also dealt with multilingual practices in a paper he gave together with Arja Nurmi from the University of Tampere. Finally, Matti Peikola and I discussed early sixteenth-century title-pages as sites of textual discourse. We were delighted to be in the same session with our former Turku colleague Carla Suhr (currently University of Helsinki) who also explored early English title-pages in her talk.
While the other members of our team are frequent ICEHL delegates, this was my first (but probably not the last) ICEHL conference. I really enjoyed my time in Essen, and the heat wave that struck us during the conference was a welcome break after the chilly Finnish summer. The next ICEHL will be hosted by the University of Edinburgh in 2018. As that is the 20th ICEHL conference, organised during the famous Fringe festival in August, I am sure it will be a festive experience indeed!
Text and photos by Mari-Liisa Varila