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Foundation for Endangered Languages

FEL XXIII (2019)
Causes of language endangerment:
Looking for answers and finding solutions to the global decline in linguistic diversity

Sydney Centre for Language Research
The University of Sydney
13-16 December 2019

See the conference report

This page last updated: 11th January 2020 - conference report.

Conference program (final)

The conference program is now available ... [PDF, 202KB]

Important dates

Deadline for abstract submission::CLOSED
Notification of acceptance:Accepted papers have been advised
Deadline for submission of full papers:CLOSED 11th November 2019
Early bird registration ends:CLOSED
  Cultural event (free for registered participants)13th December 2019
  Main conference14-16th December 2019

About the conference

The Sydney Centre for Language Research at The University of Sydney and the Foundation for Endangered Languages, in this United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages, cordially invite scholars, community organizations and community members working on issues and challenges facing endangered languages, including documentation and archiving, to join the International conference on causes of language endangerment, to take place in Sydney, Australia on 14-16th December 2019.

This event is FEL XXIII, the 23rd of a series of annual conferences of the Foundation of Endangered Languages, and takes place during the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The conference language is English. Printed proceedings will be published.

Cultural event - 13th December 2019

The conference will be preceded by a cultural program run by the local Indigenous community of the Sydney area. It will be a Harbour cruise, including lunch and a cultural program. This event will be free for all registered conference participants.

Other events in Sydney

Knowledge Ground: 30 years of sixty five thousand — an immersive installation experience celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Bangarra Dance Theatre. For further details about this free event running from 4–14th December, see the Bangarra Dance Theatre website.

Main theme: Causes of language endangerment

In the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages we face ongoing and rapid decline not only of Indigenous languages but of the world’s linguistic diversity. Why do languages become endangered? And what solutions might help arrest this decline? These are questions we seek to answer in this year’s conference. Many causes of language endangerment have been identified – ranging from speaker choices, to colonial interventions and invasions – that have forced communities to abandon or radically modify their languages. However, studies of language endangerment have not been brought together in a global discussion to look for commonalities and differences in the experiences and circumstances of endangerment.

While Indigenous languages in particular are in rapid decline, there are also many contact languages, pidgins and creoles, and varieties of dominant world languages that are also endangered. Sources such as Ethnologue aim to provide an index of the ‘vitality’ of each of the world’s languages, noting that while not all languages are endangered and that many have ‘oral and literary traditions and are being used for a wide variety of functions ... other communities, which have not achieved that status for their languages, are nevertheless taking steps to preserve the vitality of their languages by finding new ways of using them.’ We ask at this conference not only what is causing language endangerment but also what are successful solutions to the global decline in linguistic diversity.

Special theme: 2019 United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages

See https://en.iyil2019.org/

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, based on an estimate that 40 per cent of the world’s 6,700 languages are in danger and noting that most of these are Indigenous languages thus putting the cultures and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk. It is a matter of urgency that we understand what is causing these languages to become endangered and potentially to ‘disappear’.

There is rarely one single cause of language decline and it is often not clear what makes a community stop speaking their language or to alter its communicative capacity. While sometimes it has been a clear result of the invasion and subjugation of Indigenous peoples, often much more subtle factors have led to people themselves devaluing their own languages and choosing to switch to another language for reasons associated with improved access to resources, prestige or power.

We invite papers that describe research into, or experience of, both causes and solutions to endangerment of Indigenous languages.

Call for papers [NOW CLOSED]

We invite submissions of abstracts related to the conference themes. Abstracts should be in English, no longer than 500 words, and must include 3 to 5 keywords.

All abstracts should be submitted using the EasyChair website.

Accepted authors must submit their paper for the Proceedings in advance of the conference, by 30th October 2019.

At the conference, each accepted presentation will be assigned 30 minutes: we recommend allowing 5 to 10 minutes of this time for questions and discussion.


Now open at http://utrecht.elsnet.org/fel/register.html

Note that you have to register in advance and that on-site payment is not possible.

Visa information for international invited participants

About Subclass 408 (Invited Participant) visas

If you are travelling to Australia and have been invited to present at the FEL XXIII (2019) Conference, then the subclass 408 (Invited Participant) visa is the appropriate visa. If you are applying for this subclass 408 (Invited Participant) visa, please note that detailed information will be needed for your application, and in addition you must include the letter of invitation that you have received from Professor Troy. If you haven’t yet received this letter of invitation please contact Professor Troy.

There are numerous criteria that must be satisfied for the grant of the subclass 408 (Invited Participant) visa. If you apply for this visa on your own, you should have careful regard to these criteria. An overview of the visa may be found at https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/visas/getting-a-visa/visa-listing/temporary-activity-408/invited-for-other-social-and-cultural-activity.

The cost of the subclass 408 (Invited Participant) visa is AUD$310 (payable to the Department of Home Affairs). The visa charges will be higher if family are to be included as well.

All 408 visa applicants invited to participate at FEL should:

  1. Please upload the letter of invitation from Professor Troy
  2. Please upload the letter from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous, that was circulated via EasyChair, with their application
  3. Please include as much supporting evidence on their intentions and incentives to return to their home country after the Conference with their applications. Examples of this evidence might include:
    1. Family registers, birth certificates, marriage certificates, etc and any other documentary evidence of family ties and members who will remain in their home country
    2. A letter from their current employer confirming their employment and most recent payslip(s)
    3. Previous visas held for return travel to other countries
    4. Utility bills
    5. Evidence of property ownership and/or other assets
    6. Copy of travel itinerary with return flights confirmed
    7. A simple statement written by the applicant (dated and signed) stating that any of the below that are applicable to their circumstances:
      1. They have been invited to attend FEL
      2. They intend to visit Australia temporarily for the purpose of attending the FEL Conference, after which time they intend to return to their family, employment, other commitments and life in their home country
      3. They are currently employed in their home country (provide details of employer and their role)
      4. They have close family members (eg, partner and/or children) who will remain in their home country and not travel to Australia with them
      5. They have assets in their home country which provide an incentive for them to return
      6. They have previously travelled to Australia and/or other countries and returned from those trips

See also the information below about health insurance requirements.

See also the attached advice document from the Australian department of Home Affairs Visa options for business conferences, seminars, trade fairs and expos.

Health Insurance Requirement

Health insurance information for international participants applying for a visa

In order for your subclass 408 (invited participant) visa to be granted, you will need to provide evidence to the Immigration Department that you will be covered by a health insurance policy the moment you enter Australia. That is, the policy start date must coincide with your date of your intended arrival in Australia, or earlier.

The Australian government requires you to have the policy for the length of time you are in Australia. They require you to have a minimum level of cover.

You may find it is easier to use an Australian insurer as most Australian insurers have specific packages available for subclass 408 visa holders.

Please click on this link to find a list of Australian insurers you can choose from:


Please include your insurance policy with the documents that you upload to Immigration when making your application.


Please see the table below with some accommodation options. All these options are within walking distance of the conference venue. Conference participants can book and pay for their hotels online through the websites or book and then pay during their stay. Participants with accepted abstracts will be contacted and provided with further information.

Note re special rates at St Paul’s Serviced Accommodation: please email frontoffice@stpauls.edu.au and mention code FEL19. St Paul’s will extend these rates from 13th to 17th December 2019.

Accommodation Rate/room/night AUD Twins Breakfast Distance from conference venue Link
The Womens College $75 (Single bedroom) $125 Not included 350 metres https://www.thewomenscollege.com.au/external-hiring-parent/accommodation/
St Paul’s College $210 (Superior Queen studio; Queen bed with separate lounge, cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $185 (Standard studio: Queen bed with cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $160 (Standard room: Queen bed with no cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $140 (Kings Single Attic room: new building, single bed with cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $99 (Kings Single: original building, shared bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
Mercure Hotel $185   $20 Pre-booked or $30 on the day 1.1 km https://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2073-mercure-
Rydges Hotel $165   Not included 400 metres https://www.rydges.com/accommodation/sydney-nsw/camperdown/
The Collectionist Enquire with hotel for conference rate   Not included 800 metres https://collectionisthotel.com.au

Further information

For further information please contact the local organisers.

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