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FEL XIV. Reversing Language Shift: How to Re-awaken a Language Tradition

This page last updated: 10 November 2010


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Place and date

University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Carmarthen, Wales, 13-15 September, 2010 ...map


Registration has now opened. Register by 16 August if you wish to secure reduced-rate accommodation.

Download registration form: in MS Word format | in PDF format


The provisional programme is now available.


The Foundation for Endangered Languages, in association with the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David

Theme [longer version]

Language revitalisation is now receiving greater attention from academics, language planners, politicians, institutions and organisations worldwide. A step further than documentation, language revitalisation, supported by active policy, offers the possibility of reversing a shift that threatens over half of the world's languages

Many take language vitality to be symbolic of national and cultural identity. In the Celtic regions, in particular, governments are taking a leading role in the struggle to reverse language shift by various efforts including attempts to increase the number of speakers of the respective languages.

Wales provides a good vantage point from which to consider prospects for reversing language shift. It has experience in gauging levels of political support at local, national and international levels. Census figures show an increase in the number of users of Welsh, especially amongst the younger generation, which can be attributed to the education system. However, some academics doubt whether such increases in speaker numbers lead to increased language fluency and use. While efforts to achieve the Welsh Assembly's goal of a "bilingual Wales" have led to demands for greater legislative powers and autonomy on linguistic issues, immigration into the traditional heartlands is steadily reducing the density of Welsh-speakers there.

Language revitalisation requires the collaboration of a wide range of expertise. Institutional, political, and local support all play crucial roles, along with educationists and language planners. But how can these, working together, have practical effects in the daily language usage of ordinary people?

[Read the longer version, with more information about the situations in Wales and Ireland.]

Abstracts are invited on all topics in language revitalisation and reversing language shift, such as the following:

  • The roles and influences of formal educational systems
  • The roles of political independence, campaigns for linguistic rights, and community attitudes
  • The role of different domains of language use: is there a ‘best practice’ in ordering their importance in language policy?
  • The roles of corpus planning, documentary linguistics, and technologies, especially the internet
  • The merits and disadvantages of language standardisation
  • Can there be a corpus standard without oppressive purism? If so, how else can a corpus standard be propagated?
  • Language change in/through revitalisation
  • Special problems in a multi-lingual and multi-cultural context
  • Whether strategies for reversing language shift in places like Wales can be applied where there are many minority languages
  • How to integrate monolingual immigrants into bilingual society
  • The benefits (or otherwise) of bilingualism and multilingualism

Papers may focus on any endangered language situation in the world. Abstracts and papers will be accepted in English or Welsh. The content of all papers will be made accessible to those who lack Welsh.

Each presentation at the Conference will last twenty minutes, with a further ten minutes for discussion and questions and answers. Keynote lectures (by invitation only) will last forty-five minutes each.

Conditions of presentation

It is a condition of presenting at the conference that authors will:
  • submit a hard copy of their full paper by 1 August 2010 (further details on the format will be supplied later)
  • be members of FEL as of the date of the conference

Important dates

  • Abstract deadline: 30 April, 2010
  • Notification of acceptance of paper: 31 May, 2010
  • In case of acceptance, the full paper is due by 1 August, 2010
  • Conference dates: 13-15 September, 2010


Carmarthen's nearest airport is Cardiff, 110 Km away. If direct flights to Cardiff are unavailable, try Bristol (175 Km from Carmarthen) before any of the London airports.


An excursion is planned for the afternoon of 15 September as well as cultural entertainment during the evenings of 13 and 14 September.

The area

Trinity University College, Carmarthen and Saint David's University College, Lampeter, are merging, a process to be completed by September 2010. Trinity University College is famous in Wales for promotion of bilingualism and bilingual teaching, recognised by the Welsh Assembly Government as a key provider of Welsh-medium higher education.

The Carmarthen (Caerfyrddin - "Castle Merlin") campus of University of Wales, Trinity Saint David is situated on the edge of a market town with a population of 13,500, most of them fluent Welsh-speakers. The town claims to be the oldest in Wales, with a medieval castle and a Roman amphitheatre. Carmarthen's name under Roman rule was Moridunum Demetarum ("Sea Fort of Dyfed", in English).

Conference chair

Dr Hywel Glyn Lewis

Ysgol y Gymraeg ac Astudiaethau Dwyieithrwydd   School of Welsh and Bilingualism Studies
Prifysgol Cymru: Y Drindod Dewi Sant   University of Wales: Trinity Saint David
Caerfyrddin   Carmarthen
Cymru   Wales, UK
Tel +44 (0)1267-676680

e-mail h.lewis@trinity-cm.ac.uk


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