Knowledge Hubs

An Academic Conference Embraces ‘Vocal’ Culture in Glasgow

Not only was the phonetics and sociolinguistics research conducted by Glasgow universities influential in securing an international phonetics conference, the way the city's residents speak was a unique value-add.

Celia Lloyd, left, of Intelligent Events, a Glasgow PCO, and  Jane Stuart Smith, University of Glasgow.
Celia Lloyd, left, of Glasgow PCO Intelligent Events, and Jane Stuart Smith, University of Glasgow.

In Barbara Palmer’s December cover story, she showcases DMOs around the globe that are using their destinations’ intellectual and business assets to attract groups of a similar ilk, which we see it as part of the evolution of the destination-marketing industry. In addition to marketing their destinations’ infrastructure to support meetings as well as their recreational and cultural offerings, DMOs are capitalizing on their cities’ business, scientific, medical, research, and educational assets. The goal is not just knowledge sharing — the conference benefits from local expert speakers in their field — but knowledge exchange. In other words, an ongoing conversation takes place between the local experts and the conference attendees/speakers/organizers after the event concludes.


We see examples of this all over the map, including the 18th International Conference of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS) 2015. At the academic conference in Glasgow, Aug.10–14, that “conversation” was literal: 1,000 delegates had a professional motivation to listen to and speak with local residents.

Jane Stuart Smith, a professor of phonetics and sociolinguistics at the University of Glasgow, coordinated input from a consortium of four Scottish universities to win Glasgow’s bid to host this year’s conference. Professor Stuart Smith said in a release that she has “made leaps and bounds” in her research “and forged huge discoveries in the subject of accent and dialect” in her adopted city of Glasgow. Her influential work in this field was key to attracting the congress to Glasgow — and so was its citizens’ native tongue. “The Glasgow dialect is a phonetic treasure trove,” she said. “I could spend my whole career working on it — many of our delegates also loved the added bonus of being able to study and experience this first hand.”

Michelle Russell

Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.