Mini-Workshop on Poetry

On Thursday, last week, we had a mini-workshop on poetry for which we invited colleagues from the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPI-AE) and from the University of Zurich (UZH). It may look strange on first sight why poetry would matter for my work, but the poetic tradition of rhyming in the history of Chinese in fact plays a crucial role for the reconstruction of the oldest stages of the languages. I myself devoted two recent studies to the application of network approaches to study Old Chinese phonology which are currently in the final phase of editing and will hopefully appear soon (the draft for one study can be found here). In my talk, I presented this research quickly (the slides are here), and pointed to future questions on the dynamics underlying the development of poetic traditions from a cross-linguistic and historical perspective.

The other speakers discussed many interesting topics, ranging from empirical studies on poetry and how one can annotate the important factors that constitute poetic speech (Winfried Menninghaus and Christine Knoop, MPI-AE), via the automatic detection of rhyme patterns in German poetry (Thomas Haider MPI-AE), up to tquestions of language contact and cultural exchange (Paul Widmer, UZH), and the co-evolution of linguistic and poetic forms (Cormac Anderson, MPI-SHH). Our discussions during the talks were long, and since we had to stop at some point, there was no time for the talk by Olivier Morin (MPI-SHH) on "poetry as super-week communication". This was a definit loss, as I saw when Olivier shared his slides afterwards, but luckily we are working in the same department, and nothing will prevent us to go on with discussions and exchange of ideas.

We all decided to stay in close contact and keep each other informed on future ideas as well as concrete research, and it is quite likely that at some point in the not-so-far future, I will present more of this here.