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Salience and Relief-Related Discourse

Call for articles: deadlines – April 30th, 2015 (abstracts), october, 2015 (articles).
Director of Issue:
Samia Ounoughi , Anglophone Studies AMU LERMA EA 853, Université-Pierre-Mendès France (UPMF) Grenoble 2.


Salience is a term of Latin origin and has recently been adapted to French “saillance” in the field of linguistics where it generally refers to any phenomenon of emphasis. It is precisely because the mountains are by nature salient objects of geography that we would like to bring closer the two disciplines of discourse analysis (and picture analysis) and Alpine geography through the concept of salience.

The perception of the Alpine Arch has undergone a great evolution since the end of the 18th century, especially thanks to travellers visiting from Britain. Scientists, sportspeople, artists and writers have in turn visited the Alps for more than two centuries. The way they have looked upon the Alps has greatly contributed to change the way we look at the mountains. Under their quill, the once terrifying mountains were to become a place of beauty and awe (Bätzing and Rougier, Les Alpes : un foyer de civilisation au cœur de l’Europe : 2005). Mountains thenceforth began to host more and more diverse visitors whose stay or passage in the Alps contributed in their turn to change their physical, human or social geography, among other aspects. Geographers Bätzing and Rougier (2005) have also highlighted the role played by the perception of foreigners whose daily environment does not display such imposing geographical relief as the Alps. The novelty of this range of landscapes in their eyes is transcribed in their discourse by bringing into relief traits which Alpine peoples no longer notice with such surprise or novelty.

Whether it issues from the very nature of the object referred to as salient; from the place of this object in its environment or from the inherent characteristics of the subject who experiences it (cf.: the categories of salience, Landragin: 2011), salience has become an important theme of research in linguistics. Various schools of linguistics have already issued publications on salience (Landragin: 2004, 2011, Haude, Montaut: 2012, Inkova: 2011, Boisseau: symposium in Strasburg in 2010: to be published). The aim of these works which explore various languages is to issue a more precise definition of salience and to point out the forms salience may take in language. Eventually this will help precise what this concept can bring to discourse analysis. Finally, Landragin suggests extending the use of the notion to other disciplines to which it can bring a new insight (cf. Landragin’s parallel between salience in photography and in narrative discourse: 2011).

This project more largely revolves around a questioning of how relief is framed in discourse through tools of pragmatics. Discourse construction will be analysed from the point of view of linguistics in its broadest sense. Authors are thus invited to produce articles on the forms and structures inherent to a language (certain structures may be common to different languages). Texts can be approached through cognitive linguistics and/or enunciation linguistics. Authors may also explore the stylistic aspect of relief in texts, that is to say, the framing of poetic discourse or the uncommon use of certain recurrent linguistic/discursive forms that literally “throw the perceive