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Opening Address for the 11th IPrA

Hello, everyone!

It has been long since I last visited this site. I am sorry for this long absence. I have been quite busy with academic activities in Japan and Korea in the last several months. To update I first would like to upload the opening speech of the last IPrA conference held at Melbourne, Australia. I hope to have stated my aspiration for this association.


Opening Address for the 11th International Pragmatic Association
July 13th, 2009

Welcome to the 11th International Pragmatics Conference!

First, I would like to express my appreciation to those who have given such a tremendous amount of their precious time to maintain and promote the International Pragmatics Association. In particular, Jef Verschuren, the founder and secretary general, and Ann Verhaert have made every effort, not only to maintain this organization but also to help it to grow over the last quarter century. A number of faculty members at the University of Antwerp should also be acknowledged for their enduring and thankless dedication to support this association.

Second, on behalf of all the participants of this conference, I would like to express our sincere thanks to the local organizing committee. I would like especially to mention Keith Allen and Gillian Wigglesworth of the University of Melbourne, who played key roles in laying the groundwork for the conference. Our heartfelt thanks also go out to the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and LaTrobe University for their generous sponsorship of this conference. In addition, mention must be made of all the members of the international conference committee who contributed to the refereeing of abstracts. We all know that without your dedication a conference of this caliber would not have been possible.

At the opening of the last IPrA conference I said the following:

as a result of the fact that the president was selected from the non-European, non-American members, we thought some new directions for the studies of pragmatics might be in order. One such new direction would be to change the direction of the academic debate from unidirectional to multidirectional. What I mean by this is that modern scholarship in pragmatics has originated in the West and been disseminated all over the world, while little knowledge has been gleaned from other parts of the world. Even though we acknowledge the great contributions from the West, it might be time for us to learn from different areas of the world, areas that have their own traditions, in order to attain a better understanding of the complexity of practice of the human race.

Since I made this speech two years ago, I have established two initiatives. First, I set up a website for the presidential office of the IPrA so that anybody interested in this association can visit and exchange ideas through its blog. Among a number of contacts made through this website are, notably, scholars from such countries as Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran, and various Islamic cultural areas. They wanted to tell me or ask me questions about linguistic politeness. Let me draw your attention to the fact that at the top of the home page is the Itsukushima Shrine, a World Heritage Site. I chose this picture because it is located in HIROSHIMA. Here is my subtext to support Jef's message in founding this academic association in 1986, "More than ever, human survival depends on successful communication on a global level. The fate of the human race has become literally dependent on our ability to cope with problems of international communication." You will find my own message on this home page: How can we achieve a global community where people from different backgrounds can achieve mutual understanding and respect so that we can co-exist peacefully?
My second initiative was that last year our research team made two visits to the University of Sebha, a small Libyan city in the middle of the North African Sahara Desert, and was able to collaborate on a research project with local faculty. Video data of interactional discourse in Libyan Arabic have been analyzed with respect to comparable discourse data in American English and Japanese. The result will be presented at one of the plenary talks by Dr. Katagiri on Wednesday.

Now, dear colleagues, I am delighted to open the 11th International Pragmatics Association. It is my hope that you will enjoy this whole week, exploring pragmatics and refreshing old friendships as well as forming new ones.

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