Sociolinguistics and its metalinguistic paradox: a plea for history

Christopher Hutton

University of Hong Kong

Christopher Hutton is chair professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong. He holds a BA in Modern Languages (1980) and a DPhil in General Linguistics from the University of Oxford (1988), an MA in Linguistics and Yiddish Studies from Columbia University (1985), and an LLB from Manchester Metropolitan University (2008). He was Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic Languages at the University of Texas at Austin from 1987-1989 before moving to Hong Kong. His research concerns the history of linguistics, in particular the relationship between linguistics and race theory, linguistics and colonialism, and linguistics and fascism. More recently he has been working on the politics of language and interpretation in the context of the law and on political slogans, signs and banners in the history of Hong Kong. His publications include Abstraction and Instance (Pergamon, 1990), Linguistics and the Third Reich (Routledge, 1999), A Dictionary of Cantonese Slang (with K. Bolton, Hurst, 2005), Race and the Third Reich (Polity Press, 2005), Language, Law and Definition (with R. Harris, Continuum, 2007), Language, Meaning and the Law (Edinburgh University Press, 2009), Word Meaning and Legal Interpretation (2014).


Academic disciplines in the humanities and social sciences seek to develop metalanguages that have analytical purchase across contexts, domains, cultures and language zones. Sociolinguistics for example seeks to make... [ view full abstract ]


PL-02 » Plenary lecture 2 - Christopher Hutton (09:00 - Thursday, 4th June, Grand Hall)