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The Day of DH has begun again, this time in Poland.

This Digital Humanist’s Day has begun in Poland with a sharp fall on the barometer, a nice grey sky and the first whiff of spring after a long and very cold winter. The view from the window is attached.

My plans for today are very simple: it’s the second of a three-day conference, in my home town of Krakow. And the conference is called “The Language of the Third Millenium VI” (VI: because it’s its sixth edition), and it’s on Terms and Terminology in Cognition and Communication. It’s organizers are – that’s a nice success story – Tertium, “An Association for the Promotion of Interlingual Communication:” a bunch of Polish translation studies enthusiasts, who, fifteen years ago, founded this thing and, beginning in 2000, started this conference; after modest beginnings, it is now a major all-Polish conference, probably one of the best-known in the field in this country. And the venue is about 300 meters from where I live. It just doesn’t get much better than this.

I gave my talk (Translator, Mind your Words: On the Statistics of Literary Translation) yesterday and was immediately rewarded by meeting a hitherto unknown to me Digital Humanist (indeed, a fellow stylometrist), Łukasz Grabowski, who will be speaking tomorrow on a corpus analysis of two Polish translations of Lolita.

I’ll be chairing a session in the afternoon.


Professor Piotr P. Chruszczewski is speaking on ANTIlanguage – ANTImind – ANTIculture: On Verbal Construing the Modern (Anti)Society. In other words (ha!), on the potential of anti-language for linguistic violence, illustrating his subject with an analysis of “closed societies”: drafted soldiers, soccer fans, seminaries…

Text and Discourse in Communicative Grammar

Professor Aleksy “Alosza” Awdiejew (Alexi “Alosha” Avdeev?) is known to the general public in Poland as a brilliant performer of Russian ballads: at least ten music albums published so far, 7 movie appearances… But in fact he’s been leading a double, a second life: the dark and mysterious life of a linguist (“communicative grammarian”) at Dublin’s Trinity and, later on and now, Krakow’s Jagiellonian University. Today he’s giving us his take on the “communicative grammar” of text and discourse.

That Mysterious Term: the Grammatical Particle

Prof. Grazyna Habrajska of Lodz University (another “communicative grammarian”) is giving a talk on the catch-all term for all those short little words that don’t fit any particular (ha!) grammatical category. The short little words, of course, have a mysterious power of modifying senses beyond recognition – or not.  In fact, the “particles” modify the already-conceptualized sense of a statement. Which is fine, except that attempts at more precise definitions of their communicative function continue to fail. Instead, Prof. Habrajska calls this function (after Grochowski)  “compression operator”, which I think is very clever, the compression being that of the extra sense applied on the sentence by the particle.

I have learned a new term today. Yay!

Discourse: Terminological Trap

Prof. Grzmil-Tylutki, linguist-axiologist at Jagiellonian University, takes on the very term of discourse, a term we all use and pretend to understand oh-so-well. “We no longer talk or converse: everything is discourse now.” And let’s not forget “discourse” is derived from the Latin for “to run around”. And textologists (and other linguists) indeed seem to be running around this term, imparting on it a huge variety of meanings, reading and discourses.