A Short History of LAUD

  1. Three lives

LAUD - the name of this linguistic agency is a trademark now - has had three different lives, directly associated with three new German universities: Trier, Duisburg-Essen and Landau.

It all began in 1973, when on a suggestion from René Dirven and Günter Radden, at Trier University, Wolfgang Frühwald (subsequently Chairman of the German Research Foundation) allotted 2,000 DM for the setting up of L.A.U.T. (Linguistic Agency University of Trier) as a voluntary agency distributing linguistic preprints and organizing annual symposia (1977-1985).

The second host (1985-1999) was the University of Duisburg, where L.A.U.T was re-baptized as L.A.U.D. and organized as a university-sponsored, legally registered and partly voluntary association with its own board, members, secretary and student assistants, all provided by the University of Duisburg.

In the third phase (since 2000), the earlier acronym (with full stops) was taken on as a trademark ‘LAUD’ and the organization was distributed over two universities: the LAUD preprints went to Ulrich Schmitz in Essen, and Martin Pütz housed the symposia in Koblenz-Landau (Campus Landau).


  1. LAUD Papers

The origins of L.A.U.T. and its further evolution must be seen within the larger context of linguistic research done world-wide. In the seventies new means of communication were required in order to spread new linguistic ideas across the linguistic community. L.A.U.T’s foundation as a linguistic clearing-house in 1973 served the purpose of spreading new linguistic ideas in a suffocating ‘generative’ climate. Like its American counterpart, the Indiana Linguistics Club, the non-profit organization L.A.U.T. aimed at the quick dissemination of linguistic research by pre-publishing important linguistic papers. By now LAUD is internationally known and its acronym is strongly associated with linguistic innovation and a wide scope.


  1. LAUD Symposia

The Linguistic Agency has also provided the institutionalized forum for a long series of international linguistic symposia. In the first phase some of the world’s most distinguished scholars were invited to present their linguistic work at the University of Trier, which overnight became known as a place of pilgrimage in modern linguistics. The series of symposia was opened in 1977 with a three-day lecture series by Charles Fillmore, followed by John Searle (1978), William Labov (1979), Edward Keenan (1980), Michael Halliday (1980), Herbert and Eve Clark (1981), David Crystal (1982), George Lakoff (1983), and Ronald Langacker (1984). The historical relevance of the L.A.U.T. symposia is perhaps best illustrated by two remarkable facts. At the first symposium Charles Fillmore buried his first mental child, “Case Grammar”, and cautiously began to carve out his new orientation, now known as “Frame Semantics”, and its twin sister “Construction Grammar”. The two last Trier symposia witnessed the introduction of “Cognitive Linguistics” to the European continent by its main proponents, Lakoff and Langacker.

In Duisburg L.A.U.D. became completely different (1985). In this respect, organizations can be compared to organisms: they can only survive if they manage to adapt and change. Apart from the solid infrastructure provided by Duisburg University, the symposia rather became specialized thematic conferences, though still with one or a few main speakers, but with all participants presenting papers of their own. The most important symposia were those on computer linguistics with John Sinclair (1986), pidgin and creole languages with Derek Bickerton and Peter Mühlhäusler (1987), linguistic approaches to artificial intelligence with Yorick Wilks (1988), culminating in 1989 in a third cognitive linguistics symposium, which in retrospect became ICLC 1 (First International Cognitive Linguistics Conference; ICLC 15 will take place in Japan in 2019). It was here that the International Cognitive Linguistics Association (ICLA) was founded, the journal Cognitive Linguistics launched, and the new series Cognitive Linguistics Research set up. Further Duisburg symposia increasingly took a multidisciplinary approach: historical linguistics as diachrony in synchrony with Raimo Anttila, Dirk Geeraerts and Dieter Kastovsky(1990), ‘reference’ in a multidisciplinary perspective with John Macnamara and Pierre Swiggers (1991), contact linguistics as a new branch in sociolinguistics and intercultural communication with Michael Clyne, Roger Keesing, and many African scholars (1992), the mental lexicon with Manfred Bierwisch and John Taylor (1993), conditionality with Elizabeth Traugott (1994), the language of emotions with Anna Wierzbicka and Zoltan Kövecses (1995), the cultural context in communication across languages with Edward Hall (1996), metaphor and religious communication with theologians, philosophers and linguists (1997), linguistic relativity with Dan Slobin, John Lucy and Peggy Lee (1998), and finally, inter-religion communication with Christians, Jews and Muslims (1999).

Many of the proceedings of these Duisburg symposia were presented in a new series Duisburg Papers on Research in Language and Culture, edited by René Dirven, Martin Pütz and Ulrich Ammon.

The diversity of linguistic topics addressed at these symposia reflected the organizers’ broad range of interests in language and culture, as well as their openness towards other people's approaches and fields of research.

The year of the millennium was also the beginning of LAUD’s third life (2000). Martin Pütz and Ulrich Schmitz had agreed to continue the work of LAUD as two independent, but closely co-operating organizations, one for the symposia, the other for the LAUD preprints. The latter went to the University of Essen (at present under the name ‘Universität Duisburg-Essen’ after Duisburg’s fusion with Essen) and were incorporated in the linguistics server LINSE at www.linse.uni-due.de.


  1. Past, present and future

Set up as a new legal body in Essen and thanks to the university’s generous sponsorship, LAUD finally reached the respectable number of more than 1,000 preprint publications in 35 years. Among the hundreds of authors are Derek Bickerton, Manfred Bierwisch, Jan Blommaert, Augustin Simo Bobda, Melissa Bowerman, Herbert E. Brekle, Wallace Chafe, Noam Chomsky, Herbert and Eve Clark, Michael Clyne, Florian Coulmas, David Crystal, René Dirven, Norman Fairclough, Joshua Fishman, Dirk Geeraerts, H. Paul Grice, John Gumperz, Michael Halliday, Henry Hoenigswald, E.F.K. Koerner, William Labov, George Lakoff, Ronald Langacker, Penny Lee, John Lucy, Jacob Mey, Roland Posner, John Searle, Petr Sgall, John Sinclair, Dan Slobin, Bernd Spolsky, John Taylor, Teun van Dijk, Anna Wierzbicka, Ruth Wodak – to mention just a few. Most of the papers are now available online. Thanks to the development of the Internet, however, the previously helpful form of preprinted papers has become obsolete. Therefore, the series of LAUD papers was discontinued when Ulrich Schmitz retired (2013).

The LAUD symposia have continued their success story. In just a few years, Martin Pütz has managed to give Landau an international reputation as a meeting place for high quality scientific exchange – also thanks to the support from Landau University, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, and especially the peer-refereed evaluations by the reviewers of the German Research Foundation (DFG). Also the multi-disciplinary and applied orientations of the symposia were further strengthened, as becomes evident from the main thematic fields discussed. These were: applied cognitive linguistics with plenary talks by John Gumperz, Zoltán Kövecses, and Ron Langacker (2000); critical discourse analysis with Teun van Dijk, Jim Martin, Norman Fairclough, and Ruth Wodak (2002); the sociology of language focussing on language and power with Joshua Fishman, Carol Myers-Scotton, John Edwards, Florian Coulmas, and Ulrich Ammon (2004); intercultural pragmatics with Peter Grundy, Laurence Horn, Istvan Kecskes, Jacob Mey, John Searle, and Anna Wierzbicka (2006); cognitive approaches to second/foreign language processing with Melissa Bowerman, Nick Ellis, Helen Frazer, Susan Gass, Jeannette Littlemore, Peter Robinson, John Taylor, and Andrea Tyler (2008); cognitive sociolinguistics with William Labov, Dirk Geeraerts, Stefan Gries, Peter Harder, Gitte Kristiansen, David Kronenfeld, and Dennis Preston (2010), cognitive psycholinguistics with Annette de Groot, Istvan Kecskes, John Lucy, Pieter Muysken, Aneta Pavlenko, and Chris Sinha (2012); Endangerment of languages across the planet: the dynamics of linguistic diversity and globalization with Peter Austin, Bernd Heine, Lisa Lim, Salikoko Mufwene, Shana Poplack, Suzanne Romaine, Sarah Thomason, and Li Wei (2014); linguistic landscapes and superdiversity in the city with Susan Berk-Seligson, Durk Gorter, Adam Jaworski, David Malinowski, Alastair Pennycook, and Elana Shohamy (2016); cultural linguistics: trends in research on language and cultural conceptualisations with John Lucy, Andreas Musolff, Gunter Senft, Farzad Sharifian, Chris Sinha, and Hans-Georg Wolf (2018). The 39th International LAUD Symposium will take place in Landau in 2020.

Selections of papers of each conference were published by John Benjamins and Mouton de Gruyter (cf. www.uni-koblenz-landau.de/de/landau/fb6/philologien/anglistik/laudsymposium/ConferenceProceedings).


René Dirven †

Martin Pütz

Günter Radden

Ulrich Schmitz


† Regrettably, René Dirven (formerly University of Duisburg), one of the founding fathers of cognitive linguistics, died on August 18, 2016 at the age of 83 in his hometown Mechelen, Belgium.