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LINGUIST List 23.4320

Tue Oct 16 2012

Calls: Writing Systems, Socioling, Discourse Analysis, Historical Ling/Croatia

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <alisonlinguistlist.org>

Date: 16-Oct-2012
From: Laura Villa <lvilla1udayton.edu>
Subject: Conflicting Orthographies
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Full Title: Conflicting Orthographies

Date: 18-Sep-2013 - 21-Sep-2013
Location: Split, Croatia
Contact Person: Laura Villa
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Discourse Analysis; Historical Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Writing Systems

Call Deadline: 01-Nov-2012

Meeting Description:


Studies focused on language ideological debates over orthographic issues as powerful sources to explain the intricate relations between spelling and society


Laura Villa, University of Dayton - lvilla1udayton.edu
Rik Vosters, Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Erasmus University College Brussels - Rik.Vostersvub.ac.be

The study of the socio-political aspects of spelling has gained scholarly attention in the last decades (e.g. Jaffe 2000, Sebba 2007, Jaffe, Androutsopoulos, Sebba & Johnson 2012, Baddeley & Voeste 2012). The introduction of writing systems in oral communities in decolonization contexts, the intense standardization of national and minority languages in the twentieth century, the bitter public debates triggered by orthographic reforms, and the exploitation of non-standard spelling norms as sources of group identity are among the processes that have clearly underlined the non-linguistic significance of orthography.

This socio-political dimension of language - and spelling - becomes particularly visible in the course of public debates over linguistic matters as the participants in those debates propose discursive representations of the self and the other - and the self and the other's linguistic practices. When such controversies arise, external factors move to the forefront, revealing, in fact, that linguistic controversies 'are part of more general sociopolitical processes' (Blommaert 1999: 3). Accordingly, approaching linguistic conflicts as language ideological debates allows us to emphasize concepts such as human agency, power, and authority and, therefore, better explain the complex 'relationship between language and power/social structures' (Blommaert 1999: 1). As spelling is - and was - often at the forefront of linguistics controversies in the public sphere, it is an excellent object of study to illustrate the social, cultural and historical issues that are often at stake in discussions about language.

This panel aims at bringing together scholars working on a range of languages and periods, whose research stresses the potential of orthographic competence and orthographic conflicts to better understand the intricate relations between spelling and society - i.e. scholars interested in the reproduction of broader socio-political processes in specific spelling ideological debates. We propose to offer a broad comparative overview of orthographical conflicts in different standard and non-standard language varieties in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present.

Call for Papers:

Possible topics of discussion include, but are not limited to:

- The selection of official orthographic norms in nation-building contexts: how are orthographic norms established and maintained, particularly as part of emerging or dominant 'standard language cultures' (Milroy 2012) in Early and Late Modern Europe?
- The public use of non-standard spelling in connection with social demands: in which way can language users - in the present or in the past - draw on orthographic variation to negotiate divergent linguistic identities?
- The non-linguistic dimension of public debates over the reform of orthographic systems: to which extent do public discourses about orthographic changes reflect societal tensions, and how are linguistic arguments used as substitutes for extra-linguistic concerns?
- The politically laden discursive representation of orthographic variation: how are spelling differences exploited within broader contexts of language conflict (Nelde 1997)?

Please send a 300 word abstract to both Laura Villa (lvilla1udayton.edu) and Rik Vosters (Rik.Vostersvub.ac.be) by November 1, 2012.


Baddeley, S. & A. Voeste (2012). Orthographies in Early Modern Europe. Berlin / Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.
Blommaert, J. (1999). Language ideological debates. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Jaffe, A. (ed.). (2000). Non-standard orthography. Special issue of the Journal of Sociolinguistics 4 (4).
Jaffe, A., J. Androutsopoulos, M. Sebba, & S. Johnson (eds.). (2012). Orthography as social action. Scripts, spelling, identity and power. Language and Social Processes 3. Berlin / New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Johnson, S. A. (2005). Spelling trouble? Language, ideology and the reform of German orthography. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
Milroy, J. (2012). 'Sociolinguistics and ideologies in language history.' In: Hernandez Campoy, J. M. & J. C. Conde Silverstre (eds.), The handbook of historical sociolinguistics, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 571-84.
Nelde, P. (1997). 'Language conflict.' In: Coulmas, F. (ed.), The handbook of sociolinguistics, Malden (MA): Blackwell, pp. 285-300.
Sebba, M. (2007). Spelling and society. The culture and politics of orthography around the world. Vol. 2007. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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