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Foundation for Endangered Languages

FEL XXII (2018)
Endangered Languages and the Land: Mapping Landscapes of Multilingualism

Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding,
University of Iceland, Reykjavík

23-25 August 2018

Important dates

Deadline for abstract submission::20 May 2018
Notification of acceptance:4 June 2018
Deadline for submission of full papers (draft):15 July 2018
Early bird registration starts:14 May 2018
Early bird registration ends:8 July 2018
Registration deadline:12 August 2018
Conference23-25 August 2018

About the conference

The Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding and the Foundation for Endangered Languages cordially invite scholars, community organizations and community members to join the International Conference Endangered Languages and the Land: Mapping Landscapes of Multilingualism, to take place in Reykjavík, Iceland, from August 23rd to 25th 2018. The conference will be of interest to all those working on the maintenance, revitalization, documentation and archiving of endangered languages.

This conference is FEL XXII, the 22nd annual conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages. A proceedings volume will be published.

Main themes

Endangered Languages and the Land

There is a strong connection between languages and the places where they are spoken. Land is a key part of the identity of a language speaking community. The lexicon and structures of a language are shaped by speakers’ appreciation of local geographical and ecological features. Contact-induced language change can reflect the ways that geography has influenced patterns of contact. Toponymies (place naming practices) reflect the languages that are or were spoken in a territory. Today, the availability of a territory where a language is ‘at home’ is one of the key factors for its vitality. In countries where Indigenous peoples seek land rights, their affiliations with languages can be factors in success.

The conference will pose questions such as: how do language endangerment scenarios vary in different regions in the world? What roles do land (or lack of it) play in speakers’ continued use of their languages? To take one example, many Indigenous communities in Australia have immutable connections between language and land, and language affiliations follow from people’s relationships with land. In other parts of the world, scattered communities can retain their identity through sharing a common language communicated across distances.

Mapping Multilingualism

How can we make relationships between language and land visible? Language maps are a frequently used tool. However, current practice in language mapping needs to be further developed. Most current language maps use either points or bounded areas (usually non-overlapping) to represent the location or range of individual languages - but the true language landscape is typically much more complex than that.

One reason for that is multilingualism. In many parts of the world, there are complex layers of languages that perform complementary functions in the life of communities. Many individuals are multilingual, whether as Indigenous people, members of a minority speaking a heritage language, migrants bringing their language into the diaspora, as language learners in a globalized world, or people interacting on-line in a lingua franca with the global community.

The conference encourages papers describing innovative approaches that seek to represent these much more intricate patterns through mapping or by similar means, making use of digital technology or other cartographic methods and devices. Proposals could address questions such as: How can diglossia be shown? How can we better research and display the distribution of domains where languages are used? How can we visualize language shift and other changes over time?

Special theme: 20 years of language documentation

This year marks twenty years since the publication of Nikolaus Himmelmann’s seminal paper “Documentary and Descriptive Linguistics” in Linguistics. Since then, Language Documentation has developed mainly as a response to the need to make lasting records of the world’s many endangered languages, and to support speakers of these languages in their desire to maintain them. Funding programmes such as DOBES, ELDP and DEL have supported language documentation activities with language communities, encouraged linguists to work with primary (digital) data, and, more broadly, raised public awareness of language endangerment.

These activities are now needed more urgently than ever, as in most areas of the world the pressure on local communities to shift to major languages has increased, and language maintenance activities are often insufficient to prevent language shift. However it may appear that the tide of Language Documentation has already passed its peak, with slowdowns in funding, establishment of centres and academic positions, and formulation of proactive language policies.

Under this theme, we invite papers that reflect on current practices in Language Documentation as a part of efforts to counter language endangerment, its impact in the academic sphere, and its contribution to language vitality and linguistic diversity.

Format of paper presentations

Accepted presentations will be assigned 30 minutes: we recommend allowing 5 to 10 minutes of this time for questions and discussion.

Call for abstracts

This 3-day International Conference on Endangered Languages and the Land focuses on endangered languages and their relation to territory/home/land, and the potential of innovative cartographic and other visual means to represent complex multilingual language situations. The conference will also reflect on the development of Language Documentation as a field. We invite abstracts for papers on the following or related topics:
  • Endangered languages and their territory/home/land
  • Re-thinking strategies for countering language endangerment, especially taking into account specific regional conditions
  • Innovative language mapping/visualization techniques for representing diglossia, multilingualism, language-use domain distribution, etc.
  • Development of and perspectives for the field of Language Documentation
  • Community-driven efforts for Language Documentation, language maintenance and language revitalization
  • Supporting languages by drawing on existing Language Documentation resources

 

Submitting abstracts

Abstracts must be submitted by 20 May 2018.

Abstracts should be in English, no longer than 500 words, and must include a title of up to 15 words, and 3 to 5 keywords. They should be emailed as Word or PDF attachments to both of the following email addresses:

In the body of the email, but not in the abstract, include the following information:

author(s), institution(s), phone number(s), e-mail address(es)

Notes:

  • you must hold a current membership of the Foundation for Endangered Languages to present at the conference. For details of membership, see the FEL website membership page
  • Accepted authors are required to submit their paper for the Proceedings in advance of the conference - see Important dates for details

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