LINGUIST List 27.4483

Thu Nov 03 2016

Confs: Sociolinguistics/UK

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

Date: 02-Nov-2016
From: Christopher Lucas <>
Subject: Small-scale Multilingualism and Linguistic Diversity
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Small-scale Multilingualism and Linguistic Diversity

Date: 02-Dec-2016 - 02-Dec-2016
Location: London, United Kingdom
Contact: Friederike Lüpke
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Meeting Description:

“Small-scale societies […] are economically self-sufficient, and proudly form the center of their own social universe without needing to defer unduly to more powerful outside groups. Their constructive fostering of variegation – which holds social groupings to a small and manageable size, and keeps outsiders at a suitable distance – is not offset by the need to align their language with large numbers of other people in the world.” (Evans 2010: 14)

The social make up of small-scale multilingual situations, attested across the globe and in all likelihood constituting “the primal human condition” (Evans 2010) that has sustained linguistic diversity for most of human history has started to attract attention in the field of contact linguistics, sociolinguistics, linguistic typology and multilingualism research. Small-scale settings are those settings that pre-date colonialization of and Western influx to the Americas, Oceania, Australia, Asia and Africa, and in parts of these areas continue to thrive despite added layers of polyglossic multilingualism, or that were exported in the wake of the translatlantic slave trade and merged with indigenous practices. Detailed knowledge of all aspects of these settings is crucial for advancing all fields concerned with the interaction of languages in speakers’ brains and interactions and in conventionalized practices in their societies. Since these language ecologies are rapidly changing or vanishing, they deserve to be subject of detailed investigations now.

This pre-conference session brings together speakers working on multilingual settings in different geographical areas with the goal of comparing the social exchange patterns that nurture multilingualism, the linguistic ideologies underpinning them, patterns of multilingual language use and their interaction with polyglossic planes of multilingualism in these constellations. The methods and data needed to grasp the complexity of multilingual language use will receive special attention.

Evans, Nicholas. 2010. Dying words: Endangered languages and what they have to tell us. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Page Updated: 03-Nov-2016