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Freiburg Institute of Advanced Studies, Freiburg, Germany, November 25–27, 2011

What does it mean to be ‘authentic’? Can authenticity ever be achieved? Is it a fundamental property of some entities or is it rather an element of attribution? How can sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists best define what it means to be authentic in language production? What properties can we assign to linguistic authenticity and from whose perspective is it evaluated? Whether it is planned or not, linguistic authenticity is assumed to be a common enterprise, in which the social functioning of authenticity is a driving force of individuals’ behaviour and is evaluated according to cultural contexts and mediated by and expressed in language. On the other hand, inauthenticity can be said to be the failure of indexing its ‘authentic’ counterpart or a speaker’s deliberate act while displaying socio-linguistic individualities and rejecting conventionalised speech behaviours.

One of the aims of the conference is to elucidate the relationship between linguistic performances and social meanings by applying a relational concept of authenticity to different levels of indexicality. By examining a situationally embedded notion of authenticity, we wish to further sociolinguistic research in the direction of a theoretically informed linguistic anthropology. We hope to bring together scholars from sociolinguistics and from anthropology to discuss the concept of authenticity and to exchange views on the contributions each field can make to the other. 

The conference emerged out of a research project which the organisers submitted to the FRIAS School of Language and Literature and with which they have subsequently won the Junior Research Group Competition 2011

Thiemo Breyer, Véronique Lacoste, Jakob Leimgruber

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