Veranstaltung: “Technolinguistics in Practice: Socially Situating Language in AI Systems”, Universität Siegen, 24.-26.05.2023

Technolinguistics in Practice: Socially Situating Language in AI Systems

Universität Siegen, 24.-26.05.2023

New language technologies give rise to new technolinguistic practices, demanding a reconsideration of earlier questions and disciplinary commitments concerning the study of language and technology. The field of artificial intelligence (AI) has led to new communicative repertoires and ideologies for imagining, designing and interacting with machines as well as with humans. In the spirit of an ‘ethnography of “cooperation”’(cf. Hymes 1964) which situates communicative cooperation in the context of a wider community of practice, we are interested in:

(1) how the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) conceptualize and operationalize “language,” by reproducing, regressing to, building on, challenging, updating, or otherwise engaging with the intellectual history of the field and its numerous critics, as well as in

(2) how this operationalization transforms or is transformed by the socially-situated engagements between humans and machines in the sociocultural, political or economic contexts in which AI and ML models materialize.

We aim to assemble scholars from a variety of fields to document and analyze evolving language and semiotic practices – the constitutive work that constructs “language” itself as a technology of artificial intelligence both within and surrounding AI and ML technologies by researchers, developers or other users.


Day 1: Wednesday, 24.05.2023 | Machinic Agents and Interactions  

14:00–14:30 Conference Opening
14:30–15:45 Keynote Paul Kockelman
Who Do We Talk to When We Talk to Machines? Linguistic Anthropology in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

16:00–17:30 Session 1

Becoming a Conversational Agent User: Interaction with an “Automated Operator” in Phone Information Service
Alisa Maksimova

What Was the Smart Speaker?
David Waldecker, Axel Volmar, Tim Hector and Christine Hrncal

17:45–19:15 Session 2

How Human Interaction Can Inspire Convivial Language Technology
Andreas Liesenfeld and Mark Dingemanse

Frameworks as Infrastructures of Conversational AI
Marcus Burkhardt and Susanne Förster

Day 2: Thursday, 25.05.2023 | NLP Structures and Ideologies

10:00–11:15 Keynote Michael Castelle
Text as Task: A Guide to the Transformer Architecture and its Language Ideologies

11:30–13:00 Session 3

From “Natural” to “Culturally Grounded” and “Socially Anchored”: Examining the Notion of Language in NLP
Christoph Purschke, Alistair Plum and Catherine Tebaldi

What Python Can’t Do: Language Ideologies in Programming Courses for Natural Language Processing
Joseph Wilson

14:15–15:45 Session 4

Pragmatics in the History of NLP
Evan Donahue

Understanding the Limitations of Large Language Models
Ole Pütz and Steffen Eger

16:15–17:45 Session 5

Indexing Semantic Association
Tyler Shoemaker

Machine Learning as Semiotic Mediation
Yarden Skop and Siri Lamoureaux

Day 3: Friday, 26.05.2023 | Sociocultural Contexts

10:00–11:15 Keynote Ilana Gershon
ChatGPT: Genre, Scale, Animacy

11:30–13:00 Session 6

Reconfiguring the Regimentation of Multilingualism: From National Epistemology to Global Surveillance
Britta Schneider

Voice Diagnostics and Stress Monitoring: Infrastructuring and Automation of Health Data
Tanja Knaus and Susanne Bauer

14:15–15:45 Session 7

ConMan: Stories from a Cooperative Anthro-computational Approach to the Study of Conspiracy Theories
Alistair Plum, Catherine Tebaldi and Christoph Purschke

Abstracting Away: ‘Speakers’ and Minoritised Communication Ideologies
Alicia Fuentes-Calle

16:15–17:00 Session 8

It Is a Match: Language, AI-Powered Matchmaking and the Politics of Employability
Alfonso Del Percio

17:00–18:00 Wrap-Up & Discussion on Follow-Up Publication and Project Planning


Attending the conference is free. We kindly ask guests to register via
Information concerning online attendance will be circulated to those who have registered prior to the event. 

Conference Website:


Campus Unteres Schloss
Building C, Room 109
Unteres Schloss 3
57072 Siegen