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Foundation for Endangered Languages


Endangered Languages - the Voices they Project, and the Images they Present

Quito, Ecuador, 7-10 September 2011


Main conference website at Pontificia Universidad Católica, Quito, Ecuador

Conference registration now open - download forms DOC PDF

Programme at main conference website (in Spanish)

English translation of conference programme

Annual General Meeting notice

This page last updated: 16 July 2011. For up-to-date details, see main conference website at Pontificia Universidad Católica, Quito, Ecuador


Language endangerment is now accepted as an important issue of our times, but it is sometimes misrepresented as a problem just for the speaker communities, and not for the wider societies which surround and often penetrate them. In this conference, we want to focus on the impacts that minority languages make on those outside, whether deliberately through raising their voices or implicitly, through the images that they give out to outsiders. What messages do endangered languages send to the wider world? These voices and images may play vital roles in the formation of language attitudes. We are therefore asking questions of these kinds:

  • How have endangered language communities presented themselves, their languages and their cultures? The audience could be outsiders, but it could also be young, or returning, members of their own families.
  • What policies have outsiders used to characterize these communities, across a whole spectrum of possibilities? These will include attempts to vilify, stigmatize or even annihilate them, to seek to assimilate or recruit them, to accept them passively, or even to see some special value in them?
  • What uses have endangered language communities made of others' methods to protect themselves, or to enhance their standing?
  • How have endangered language speakers maintained or transformed, or been alienated from, their traditions or identity?
  • What alliances have endangered language communities forged for mutual protection?
  • How have attitudes to majority languages been affected by greater interest in minority languages?
  • How have the techniques derived from majority-language culture, e.g. for teaching, or for documentation, been used for endangered languages?
  • How have mass media (as radio, television), and modern networked media (as mobile phones, the internet) affected the image of endangered languages, or given them new voices? Linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis of endangered languages

These are just some of the questions to be discussed in this conference, which aims to learn lessons about the place of minority languages within larger communities. We aim to create awareness about the current situation of endangered languages among the speakers and non-speakers of such languages. Our goal is to promote linguistic maintenance within a wide variety of social contexts. There will be a place to discuss relevant experience of the documentation of endangered languages as well as of language revitalization.

Ecuador is well known for its geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity. Besides Spanish, it hosts thirteen indigenous languages, all endangered. Quichua has around 1 million speakers in Ecuador, of 8 million along the Andes. The indigenous languages are found on the coast, in the highlands (Sierra) and on the Amazon - representing many of South America 's linguistic families.

Important dates

  • 13 March, 2011: Abstract submission deadline
    Abstracts (up to 500 words) to be sent in English or Spanish (or Quichua or Shuar), as a MS Word document (.doc or .rtf formats). Please include up to 5 key words or phrases, author names, affiliation, postal address and telephone number of leading author
  • 10 April, 2011: Notification of acceptance/rejection of paper
  • 16 July 2011: Registration opens - download registration form DOC PDF
  • 1 August, 2011: In case of acceptance, the full paper will be due
    Note: It is a condition of speaking at the conference that authors submit a hard copy of their paper by this deadline, in MS Word and as a PDF; further details on the format of text will be specified to the authors. In the course of the following month, PowerPoint presentations (if any) should be submitted, together with a scanned photograph of author
  • September 7-9, 2011: Conference
  • September 10, 2011: Excursion to Otavalo (see below)

Important addresses

All abstracts and papers should be emailed as attachments to both of these addresses:

Postal Addresses and Telephones (if necessary):

Conference Chair
Dr Marleen Haboud,
Facultad de Comunicación, Lingüística y Literatura, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador
+593 2 2991700

Foundation Chair
Dr Nicholas Ostler
Foundation for Endangered Languages, 172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath, England BA1 7AA
+44 1225 852865


Excursion to Otavalo www.otavalo.gov.ec/, www.otavalo.virtual.com/
This trip will include a visit to the indigenous market, lakes, a sacred waterfall, a condor park, and perhaps a visit to local musicians. Later excursions may also be planned: Santo Domingo de los Tsáchilas (at least one more day), and if there is interest, Galápagos Islands or the Selva (jungle).

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