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Foundation for Endangered Languages

FEL XIX - FEL NOLA, New Orleans, USA
7-10 October 2015

See the conference report

Key updates (as of 29 September 2015)

Conference information and Press Release (PDF)

Full conference program

Conference registration - register from the FEL membership page (hosted by Leiden University)

Accommodation - Discounted bookings announced at the LaQuinta Hotel - reservation information: as PDF | as MS Word (docx)

Regular updates and further details will appear on this page. This page last updated: 29 September 2015.

Location and venue

The conference takes place at various venues around Tulane University, 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. Most of the activities take place in the Lavin-Bernick Center ... Location map | Campus map

Conference program

The conference program is available here.


Our 2015 conference, FEL XIX has the theme: The Music of Endangered Languages. It will consider the role of music and songs in the revitalization and preservation of endangered languages. The conference will take place at a venue (yet to be confirmed) in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. See more about the location.

There are many ways in which the music culture of communities is critical to sustaining and revitalizing languages:

  • Songs are a vehicle for carrying forward the essence of history and culture. The repetitive, structured, danceable sounds of music are found in almost every society. What people perform or listen to becomes an issue of cultural significance.
  • People use language in music to re-create and celebrate who they have been and establish what they wish to be. New words added to an old song look backward to earlier struggles and make a statement about the present and future.
  • Music is one of the ways that communities establish themselves and try to survive. Endangered peoples and cultures are often large minority groups within nations that can suddenly erupt into civil war or persecution.
  • Speakers of endangered languages can utilize modern forms of music and musical instruments to make their language relevant, and to raise interest in their language, both within the community and from outside.

Call for abstracts - now closed

FEL XIX (FELNOLA) calls for abstracts addressing the conference theme of music and endangered languages, discussing areas including (but not limited to):

Language preservation and revitalization / increasing Language Awareness: Where and to what effect are songs and music employed in the preservation of endangered languages? In what ways does this benefit the communities? How does it assist language revitalization? What are the benefits and limits in the use of music in sustaining and revitalizing endangered languages?

Identity and Multicultural Urban Settings: In what ways can languages and music be studied along the lines of maintaining cultural identity in a multi-cultural urban setting? How do cultural heritage and music feature in the linguistic landscape?

Dimensions of Community and Place: Local, Urban and Rural: How do endangered languages speakers use their music to co-exist in urban and rural areas? What kind of knowledge is lost with language shift and how does such loss of such knowledge change communities? What is gained by maintaining indigenous perspectives on the local ecology?

Children and Youth / Education and Schools: Why should the music of endangered language communities be part of school curriculums? How is music used to advance the revitalization of endangered languages in school settings? To what kinds of advantages can indigenous languages be employed in school education?

Popular Music - Considerations and Influence: What is the influence of indigenous music in popular music? How can that popularity be parlayed into the development and teaching of indigenous languages and music? What is the role of music in language awareness? What models of intellectual property rights can best protect indigenous groups as they develop materials for education and cultural tourism?

Economic Aspects of the Cultures and Music of languages: How have local communities supported the music culture of endangered language groups as part of preserving regional identity? What kinds of resources do the music of heritage languages provide for specific economic activities such as tourism? How can the economic effect of heritage languages and music be explored for language planning and policy?

Format of presentations

Presentations will be twenty minutes, with ten minutes for discussion and questions and answers. Keynote lectures (by invitation only) will be forty-five minutes each.


The conference takes place at various venues around Tulane University, 6823 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70118. Most of the activities take place in the Lavinā€Bernick Center ... Location map | Campus map

New Orleans is an international port city and gateway to America for many of the world's languages since the 18th century.

New Orleans is an international port city and gateway to America for many of the world’s languages since the 18th century. As a colony under French, Spanish and American flags, Creole society coalesced as Islanders, West Africans, slaves, free people of color and indentured servants poured into the city along with a mix of French and Spanish aristocrats, merchants, farmers, soldiers, freed prisoners and nuns.

From 1820 to 1870, the Irish and Germans made New Orleans one of the main immigrant ports in America, second only to New York. New Orleans also was the first city in America to host a significant settlement of Italians, Greeks, Croatians and Filipinos. Just before the opening of the 20th century, thousands of Sicilians came to New Orleans adding to a collective of disconnected suburbs, many divided by language. Among the indigenous languages in Louisiana are small groups of Koasati, Choctaw, Chitimacha, and Tunica who borrowed words from Spanish, mixing it with the Mobilian Jargon, a trade language of the Central Gulf Coast.

Immigrants from a wide variety of nations brought along their traditional music and added them to Louisiana’s rich cultural ‘gumbo’. Jazz emerged from African and African-rooted dancing, singing, and drumming in New Orleans’ Congo Square. West of New Orleans, across the Atchafalaya Basin into east Texas, lays the homeland of Cajun music and zydeco, exuberant dance-music genres of Southwest Louisiana where some half a million people still speak Cajun and Creole French. Other sounds include the Isleños ballads known as décimas of St. Bernard Parish, which are sung in a 17th-century Spanish dialect from the Canary Islands; Italian music, and its fascinating interaction with jazz and rhythm & blues; salsa, merengue, and other styles from Central America and the Caribbean; the music of such Asian nations as Vietnam and Laos; and many more.

Today at Tulane University, there are speakers of both Cajun and of other Louisiana Frenches. Scholars here who specialize in this area include Drs. Klingler and Dajko. In addition, there are other Louisiana communities in as serious a situation as the regionally specific varieties of French. Louisiana has several linguistic isolates, Atakapa, Chitimacha (with an active revitalization project), Natchez and Tunica (also revitalizing and a host of the conference). There are also Koasati and Choctaw, which are Muskogean, Ofo and Biloxi, which are Souian, and Lipan Apache, who are actively seeking aid in their revitalization projects.

Important dates

  • Call for abstracts announced: 28 March 2015
  • Abstract submission deadline: 3 May 2015
  • Notification of acceptance: 1 June 2015
  • For accepted papers, authors to submit the full written paper by 2 August 2015. It is a condition of presenting at the conference that authors submit their completed paper by this deadline
  • Conference dates: 7-10 October 2015
  • Cultural Program: 10 October 2015


Register by going to the FEL membership page (hosted by Leiden University).

Cultural Program

The last day of the conference (10 October) will feature a Cultural Program including the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, Coushatta Tribe, United Houma Nation, Clifton Band of Choctaw-Apache, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Important addresses

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

Requests for further information about the conference should be directed to either of the following:


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