Keynote lectures

Keynote 1 (Saturday, 20/08/2022, 12h45-13h45): Using Bayesian Data Analysis in Language Research

Shravan Vasishth (University of Potsdam, Germany)

Bayesian methods are becoming a standard part of the toolkit for psycholinguists, linguists, and psychologists. This transition has been sped up by the arrival of easy-to-use software like brms, a front-end for the probabilistic programming language Stan. In this talk, I will show how Bayesian analyses differ from frequentist analogues, focusing on the linear mixed model. I will illustrate the main advantages of Bayes: a direct,  nuanced, and conservative answer to the research question at hand, flexible model specification, the ability to incorporate prior knowledge in the model, and a focus on uncertainty quantification.


Daniel J. Schad, Bruno Nicenboim, Paul-Christian Bürkner, Michael Betancourt, and Shravan Vasishth. Workflow Techniques for the Robust Use of Bayes Factors. Psychological Methods, 2022.

Shravan Vasishth and Andrew Gelman. How to embrace variation and accept uncertainty in linguistic and psycholinguistic data analysis.

Linguistics, 59:1311–1342, 2021.

Shravan Vasishth. Some right ways to analyze (psycho)linguistic data. Submitted, 2022.


I was born and grew up in New Delhi, and did my schooling at St. Columba’s School. Soon after finishing high school, I went into kidney failure; I received a kidney transplant from my father in 1985. The transplant failed in 2011, and I have been on hemodialysis since then.
Before moving to the US and then Germany, we lived in Japan for a total of five years, in Minoo, Osaka prefecture, and Nishinomiya, Hyogo prefecture. At the bottom of the page are some of the visual traces from my life over the years, mostly but not all from our time in Japan.
I used to be a musician (violin and guitar); I own a superb Hungarian-made concert violin which I don’t play any more. Two big interests I have outside of academia are Iaido, and Shaolin Kung Fu/Qi Gong+Tai Chi.
My BA (Honours) was in Japanese (JNU, India), and I have Masters degrees in Linguistics (JNU, India), Computer and Information Science (Ohio State, USA), and Statistics (Sheffield, UK). I have a PhD in Linguistics (2002) from Ohio State.

Keynote 2 (Wednesday, 17/08/2022, 12h45-13h45): Parsing the language of elitism: Words, practices, formations

Crispin Thurlow (University of Bern, Switzerland)

This methodologically oriented presentation is thematically concerned with the way eliteness is represented, organized, and produced in language. And by eliteness, I mean claims made in every talk and texts to notions of excellence, distinction, or superiority (see Thurlow & Jaworski, 2019). This line of investigation is aligned with renewed commitments to class critique in sociocultural linguistics. Although my usual concern is with making critical and conceptual interventions, my talk for the 2022 Ghent Summer School will deliberately surface issues of data generation and analysis. Specifically, I want to show how a complex social phenomenon like status can only be understood by systematically “parsing” its linguistic and semiotic constitution across a spectrum of interactional processes (cf Heller, 2001) – from words, to practices, to formations. This approach is achieved effectively through a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, and through a sequence of descriptive, interpretive, and critical analyses (cf Fairclough, 1989). To demonstrate what I mean, I will draw from both my own research and the research of others.


Fairclough, N. (1989). Language and Power. London: Longman.

Heller, M. (2001). Undoing the macro/micro dichotomy: Ideology and categorisation in a linguistic minority school. In N. Coupland, S. Sarangi & C. N. Candlin (eds), Sociolinguistics and Social Theory (pp. 212-234). London: Longman.

Thurlow, C. and Jaworski, A. (eds). (2019). Elite Discourse: The Rhetorics of Status, Privilege and Power. London: Routledge.


Crispin Thurlow is Professor of Language and Communication in the Department of English at the University of Bern, Switzerland. His most recent books are The Business of Words: Linguists, Wordsmiths, and Other Language Workers (Routledge) and Visualizing Digital Discourse: Interactional, Institutional and Ideological Perspectives (De Gruyter). He serves on the editorial board of journals such as Language in Society; Critical Discourse Studies; Sociolinguistic Studies; Discourse, Context & Media; and Visual Communication. More information about Crispin’s work can be found at: