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Contested Languages in the Old World Conference, 9-10th September 2013

Call for Papers

We invite submission of abstracts for oral presentations (20min + 10mins questions) and poster sessions on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • the status and/or corpus planning in one or more contested language(s) of Europe;
  • comparison of status and/or corpus planning levels between two or more contested language(s) or Europe;
  • speakers and government attitudes on specific contested languages of Europe;
  • the impact of local legislation and/or local initiatives on the status and attitudes of contested languages in Europe;
  • issues of Abstand and Ausbau relating to one or more contested language(s) of Europe.

Confirmed invited speakers:

Prof. Christopher Moseley (UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger)
Prof. Máiréad Nic Craith (Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh)

Rationale and context

The meeting will focus on languages which, although generally recognized as such by the international scientific community (e.g., they are duly reported in Ethnologue, have an unambiguous ISO 639 code, and their status as Abstand languages is often not questioned by linguists, especially out of their home country), have not attained any reasonable degree of official recognition. Sometimes, also academic interest and recognition at home are at stake.

Reference is made here to many of the regional languages of Italy (e.g. Lombard, Piedmontese, Sicilian, Venetian, and others), Germany (e.g. Bavarian, Low Saxon, Swabian), and Poland (e.g. Kashubian, Silesian), some of the regional languages of Spain (e.g. Aragonese, Asturian), and most regional languages of France, as well as to all other cases of “contested languages” within European continua. All these varieties have a relatively strong degree of Abstand separating them from the official languages of the State in which they are spoken, they also have a substantial number of speakers of different age groups (though younger speakers tend to be less conversant and prefer the use of the state language), a distinct literary written tradition, and display some level of standardization and corpus planning. Still, these languages are often referred to as “dialects”, “patois” etc. in everyday (and sometimes in academic) discourse. The visibility of these languages in the public sphere is negligible and official recognition is either totally lacking or restricted to the local level; public use of these languages is likewise totally absent or nearly so. Speakers’ awareness varies, but is generally low and restricted to active minorities.

The conference aims at bringing together linguists, political scientists, writers, activists and other scholars working on the current status and future prospects of such ‘contested’ languages, as well as on issues of corpus and status planning and how these impact on the speaker communities themselves and on the academic world.

Submission details

Please send 250-word abstracts (excluding references) to clow@bangor.ac.uk by the closing date of 1st May 2013. Abstracts should be included as Word file attachments, and be anonymised. Please indicate clearly in your email whether your abstract is to be considered for a paper or poster, along with the following information:

  • name of presenter(s)
  • university affiliation(s)
  • email address(es).

Proposers can expect to hear if their abstract has been accepted by May 31st 2013.

Format for abstracts:

  • Length: 250 words (excluding references)
  • Font-size: 12 point, Times New Roman
  • Margins: 1 inch

Important deadlines:

Submission deadline: May 1st, 2013
Notification: May 31st, 2013