LINGUIST List 32.3524

Fri Nov 05 2021

Calls: Anthropological Linguistics, Historical Linguistics, Sociolinguistics/Romania

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 04-Nov-2021
From: Ezequiel Koile <>
Subject: Spatial and Social Separation of Speech Communities and Language Change
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Full Title: Spatial and Social Separation of Speech Communities and Language Change

Date: 24-Aug-2022 - 27-Aug-2022
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Contact Person: Ezequiel Koile
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Sociolinguistics

Call Deadline: 15-Nov-2021

Meeting Description:

Full Title: Spatial and social separation of speech communities and language change

The consideration of real-world situations of interaction among language users is integral to the study of language contact and change. The geography of an area has potentially significant effects in shaping such interactions, as do social features of the groups interacting, such as marriage patterns and degrees of political centralization and complexity. There is a specific subset of real-world situations that has recently received increasing attention, namely situations where speech communities are characterized by relatively high degrees of geographical and/or social separation from other communities. These include e.g. mountainous landscapes where villages lie at different elevations, and small island communities.

There have been claims that language varieties used in spatially and/or socially separated communities show a higher degree of grammatical opacity, more elaborated grammatical paradigms, and rarer sounds compared with closely related neighboring language varieties that have been spatially and socially less separated (Trudgill 2011). This effect has been observed in different regions of the world, such as the Caucasus (Nichols, 2013, 2015, 2016), the Andes (Bentz, 2018), as well as in different dialects of German (Baechler 2016), and surveyed in Urban 2020. As for genuinely social factors, it has been proposed that the strongly endogamic nature of some Caucasian speech communities is a relevant factor in the languages of such communities developing distinctive patterns from their neighboring language communities (Pakendorf et al. 2021, Dobrushina et al. 2020, Kirby et al. 2016).

In this workshop, we aim at investigating whether the claims made by Trudgill, Nichols, and others hold across other scenarios of spatially and socially separated language communities. The main focus is on societies where traditional, pre-colonial cultural traits are still observable, especially those characterized by small-scale multilingualism (i.e. widespread multilingualism in local languages), though work considering this topic from an areal or global perspective where sociolinguistic information is not available at a high level of detail is included as well. Our goal is to stimulate discussion on the ways in which separation of speech communities from each other, whether this is due to spatial factors, social factors, or a combination of the two impacts patterns of language change and whether it is associated with a distinctive profile from language change in other contexts, as claimed by the mentioned authors.

Call for Papers:

SLE Workshop: Spatial and social separation of speech communities and language change

We invite submissions for papers that study how spatial and social structures shape language structure. Both empirical and theoretical studies are welcome, as well as different scales of granularity, such as small-scale, areal, and global studies. A non-exhaustive list of possible topics is:

- Studies of outcomes of language contact in landscapes where settlements exhibit significantly different degrees of accessibility or connectedness (e.g., mountainous landscapes where villages can be at very different levels of elevation, small island communities and similar situations).
- Work on the relationship between marriage patterns and linguistic variation, in particular in contexts where some communities show greater degrees of endogamy than others.
- The role of spatial and social factors in conditioning structural features of languages.
- Spatial factors as contributing to social separation and the ways that they affect languages.
- Studies of language complexity as conditioned by social and spatial separation

Please send your non-anonymous abstract of max. 300 words to by November 15, 2021. The convenors will carry out a first round of review and notify authors of their decision later that week. Accepted abstracts will be sent to the SLE conference organizers as part of the workshop proposal. Notification of acceptance or rejection of the workshop proposal will be by 15 December, 2021.

Convenors: Ezequiel Koile, Michael Daniel (both HSE University, Moscow), Pierpaolo Di Carlo, Jeff Good (both University at Buffalo), and Susanne Maria Michaelis (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig)

Page Updated: 05-Nov-2021