Larissa Aronin Associate Professor, Dr.
Teaching and research area
• Sociolinguistics and sociology of language
• Multiple language acquisition
• The material culture of multilingualism
• Philosophy of multilingualism
Oranim Academic College of Education, Israel
Most important academic stations:
Moscow Academy of Pedagogical Sciences 1990 Ph.D. Visiting Research Fellow, CLCS, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland from 2008 till present. Visiting Scholar in the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (MIT), USA April 2014.
o Why should students of TU Darmstadt attend your seminars?
Whether engineers or scientists, at work or in daily life, we all use languages to cooperate, understand the world around us, express ourselves and communicate. The use of languages in the world and also in each country, university, laboratory, office or family is not a random, or permanent circumstance; it has its reasons and causes, and has far reaching implications for every aspect of life.
Many language-related issues are among the most heatedly discussed and are often sensitive in today’s world. Do scientists understand each other if they speak the same language? Why is English dominant in many spheres of life? Why is most scientific literature in English? Will German become a world lingua franca? Should minority languages be maintained? Which languages should we teach our children? Does speaking a dialect lower your status? How can one tell a language from a dialect, and is it important? Do we trust speakers with an accent? What is the economic power of language? We will discuss these and other sensitive issues in class, and will examine ways to deal with each particular challenging situation.
In the course you will learn the theoretical approaches to the current global linguistic arrangements to see how tightly these are intertwined with economics, politics and technological developments. The knowledge of how people use language in groups and communities, will allow you to dismiss common myths and misunderstandings, and take informed decisions at work, and in private life.
A specialist of any profile would benefit from the knowledge on how language conveys power and authority, displays willingness to cooperate, how what one says can advance or hinder team cooperation, and how to use the asset of language to advantage in academic environment.
The course on languages in society is a rewarding enrichment, will give you fun and stimulate insights in your particular discipline.
o Why did you choose TU Darmstadt for your KIVA Visiting Professorship?
TU Darmstadt is known for its achievements in science and technology, it is one of the leading engineering universities in Germany where top specialists in science and technology work. As my own research is interdisciplinary, I cherish the opportunity to meet specialists in the fields of natural and engineering sciences and also in humanities. In my previous visits in 2006 and in 2014, I met with colleagues working in in Computational Engineering, Physics and Ecology as well as in Philosophy and Urban Research. I am looking forward to collaboration and further insights during my KIVA Visiting Professorship.
In addition, TU Darmstadt is one of the centers of multilingualism research. Prof. Dr. Britta Hufeisen, highly esteemed in the field of multilingualism is based in this university. We have cooperated in research and in co-editing a book. I wanted to take the opportunity of continuing work with her, and her colleagues whom I also met last year.
o At TU Darmstadt and especially in the context of KIVA interdisciplinarity has a high importance. Which are the connections between your area of teaching and research to other thematic fields and disciplines?
The field of knowledge dealing with society and its languages is highly interdisciplinary by its very nature. Directly or tangentially it draws on disciplines which would previously not have been deemed to have anything in common. My own research has spread from linguistics and pedagogy into the areas of philosophy, material culture, globalization research and complexity. A recent example is a study co-authored with Prof. Vasilis Politis of Trinity College, Dublin, in which we put forward a philosophical consideration of the way people use languages in modern times, and how this reflects on human practices, through the metaphor of edge. To this end we surveyed how natural sciences, in particular, ecology, geography, biology and philosophy treat this concept. Such a multidisciplinary approach provides one more way of understanding multilingual experience and allowed for re-directs researchers' attention to yet unexplored edges.
Conversely, it is important for TUD students , that specialists in natural sciences and engineering have a great deal to benefit from simply being aware of which, where, why, and how they use language in various work, academic and other situations. Language plays a crucial role in cognition. On the one hand, scientists speaking the same language and using the same scientific terms may not mean the same; on the other hand, language opens up scientists’ minds for generating new solutions.
Combining expertise in engineering, information technology or natural sciences, with knowledge about languages in society, can lead to identifying, and expanding the areas in which technological achievements would be applied for the best societal advantage.
Young specialists can discover additional areas for using their technological skills and creativity. For example, computer simulations and graphic visualization of society–language interface in urban environments can help in predicting developments in communities and organizations. This, in turn can enable creating a model to assist in bringing about good practices that lead to sustainable, viable prosperity and progress. I am going to demonstrate these vital inter-connections to students of MINT fields of study.
What is your perfect balance to a stressful working day?
Ballroom dancing, salsa and yoga.