LINGUIST List 28.3856

Wed Sep 20 2017

Confs: Historical Linguistics/Belgium

Editor for this issue: Kenneth Steimel <>

Date: 18-Sep-2017
From: Gijsbert Rutten <>
Subject: Monolingual Histories – Multilingual Practices: Issues in Historical Language Contact
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Monolingual Histories – Multilingual Practices: Issues in Historical Language Contact

Date: 01-Dec-2017 - 01-Dec-2017
Location: Ghent, Belgium
Contact: Rik Vosters
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Meeting Description:

Monolingual histories – Multilingual practices: Issues in historical language contact

Annual colloquium of Taal & Tongval: Language Variation in the Low Countries

1 December 2017
Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal- en Letterkunde (KANTL)
Ghent, Belgium

Keynote Speakers:

Päivi Pahta (University of Tampere)
Joe Salmons (University of Wisconsin - Madison)
Marijke van der Wal (Leiden University)

Languages such as English, German and Dutch have traditionally been described in monolingual histories. Accounts of the history of these languages often focus on their gradual development through time with special attention being paid to the rise of the standard language. The areas in which these languages were used, however, were also home to a wide spectrum of other languages, including regional varieties of the dominant language, immigrant languages and ‘prestigious’ foreign languages such as Latin and French. This means that speech and writing communities in most of these areas have in fact been highly multilingual throughout history (Braunmüller & Ferraresi 2003, Stenroos et al. 2012). These multilingual practices, however, tend to be rendered invisible in monolingual histories, and even regional languages within larger language areas are not always represented, particularly when the developing standard language is prioritized (Hüning et al. 2012, Schrijver 2014, Havinga & Langer 2015). At the 2017 Taal & Tongval colloquium, we aim to revisit the place of language contact in historical settings, by focusing on historical multilingualism and multilingual practices in language history.

In historical settings, reconstructability is a crucial issue. It is often difficult to find out who spoke which language(s) to whom. The written record typically prefers some languages over others, which only intensifies when standardization sets in. If we want to reconsider historical language contact, we also need to develop ways to reconstruct the sociolinguistic conditions determining the contact situation.

Main organizers:

Gijsbert Rutten, Universiteit Leiden
Rik Vosters, Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Braunmüller, Kurt & Gisella Ferraresi (eds.). 2003. Aspects of Multilingualism in European Language History. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Havinga, Anna & Nils Langer (eds.). 2015 Invisible Languages in the Nineteenth Century. Bern: Peter Lang.
Hüning, Matthias, Ulrike Vogl & Oliver Moliner (eds.). 2012. Standard Languages and Multilingualism in European History. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Peersman, Catharina, Gijsbert Rutten & Rik Vosters (eds.). 2015. Past, Present and Future of a Language Border. Germanic-Romance Encounters in the Low Countries. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Schrijver, Peter. 2014. Language Contact and the Origins of the Germanic Languages. New York: Routledge.
Stenroos, Merja, Martti Mäkinen & Inge Særheim (eds). 2012. Language Contact and Development Around the North Sea. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins.


A detailed program can now be found at:

Page Updated: 20-Sep-2017