Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Viennese Linguistic Polyphony

Barbara Conrad, Chair IPO Vienna 2011 & other IPO leaders
On our first day in Vienna, I walked into the IPO Meeting of the International Committee to a polyphony of languages. More than 50 philosophers from 30 countries gathered for our first planning session. Since I was in Vienna, I wondered what the 'official' language of the gatherings would be. German, French, English? Finally, Barbara Conrad, from the University of Vienna spoke up to begin the meeting. Now all the national languages  merged into a concert of major accents. I studied German in college and I can get by in French. I teach two philosophy courses in Spanish, but International English was music to my ears!

Over the next few days we would wonder, wander and walk all over Vienna together. I felt like we were some kind group of late medieval scholars who spoke Latin at their lectures, but their own vulgar languages when they had more intimate conversation with their compatriots. That alone was a wonderful experience.

Over the next weeks and months, I will write more about the International Philosophy Olympiad Vienna 2011. In December at the APA Eastern Division conference, the American students from the US Delegation to the IPO and I will describe and discuss our Viennese experience and International Pre-College Philosophy. In the meantime, the Columbia University Pre-College Philosophy Conference is about to begin. It will take place at CU during the last week of June. Since, most unfortunately, I cannot attend -- because I will be in Barcelona leading a group of 30 American students on an academic immersion trip with the University of Salamanca as our final destination and home away form home for a month -- my colleague, Ben Fleisher, will attend in my stead. He will be a guest blogger in this space and write about the Columbia Conference. Good luck to everyone at CU and to Ben.