26.1991, Calls: Applied Linguistics, Forensic Linguistics/South Africa

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LINGUIST List: Vol-26-1991. Tue Apr 14 2015. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 26.1991, Calls: Applied Linguistics, Forensic Linguistics/South Africa

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Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2015 13:34:02
From: Mark De Vos [m.a.de.vos at gmail.com]
Subject: Workshop on Cognition, Skills and the Psycholinguistics of Literacy in Sub-Saharan Languages

Full Title: Workshop on Cognition, Skills and the Psycholinguistics of Literacy in Sub-Saharan Languages 

Date: 23-Jun-2015 - 23-Jun-2015
Location: Potchefstroom, South Africa 
Contact Person: Mark De Vos
Meeting Email: m.a.de.vos at gmail.com

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Forensic Linguistics 

Call Deadline: 20-Apr-2015 

Meeting Description:

While literacy in Southern Africa has been studied from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives, much research has focused on English and Afrikaans with comparatively little on the acquisition of the cognitive precursors to – and linguistic components of – literacy in indigenous African languages.   Much research remains to be done on cognitive issues such as phonological awareness, morphological awareness, semantic processing, vocabulary development and the interplay between linguistic theory, linguistic structure and literacy acquisition.  Of particular concern is the absence of general linguistic, theoretical linguistic and psycholinguistic perspectives in the South African discussion (De Vos, Van der Merwe & Van der Mescht 2014; De Vos & Riedel 2011). 

At the moment, little is known of how the issues of orthographic complexity, integrity and transparency interact with morphology and dialect in African languages or how these translate into norms and standards which can inform curriculum statements.  Consequently, we know relatively little of the sequence, pace or relative difficulty of becoming literate in an African language.  

Relatively recently, there have been calls for this type of research to take centre stage (De Vos, Van der Merwe & Van der Mescht 2015 forthcoming).  Thus Schroeder (2014) calls for “linguistically savvy curricula” and work is developing in Zulu eyetracking (Pretorius  & Van Rooy 2013, Land 2013) phonological awareness (Diemer 2013,  Wilsenach 2013, De Sousa & Broom 2010; De Sousa, Greenop & Fry 2010), Morphological awareness ( Ortner 2014) and lexical recognition (Probert 2014, Probert & De Vos 2014).

Nevertheless, there remains much work to be done: there are currently no reading speed or vocabulary norms for any indigenous South African language and no indices of textual complexity (such as the Fleisch test etc.  This has a number of effects: (i) educators are denied important learning tools to gauge and benchmark learner progress, thus adding to the strain of teaching (ii) there are few diagnostic tools to identify learners who are lagging behind or who may have learning difficulties, dyslexia etc.  (iii) learning resources are developed without an appreciation of how the structures of language interact with literacy; for instance, direct translation of basal readers and curricula result in resources that are misleading or inappropriate (Katz & Bikitsha 2014) (iv) government policy and curricula is developed in the absence of deep understandings of the language-particular underpinnings of literacy practices.

The workshop will explore these and related issues, focusing on the linguistic and psycholinguistic systems underpinning literacy in indigenous African languages, particularly  those of the Bantu language family and attempting to draw together linguistic theory and applied literacy research.    In addition, it aims to raise awareness, promote research and build networks to deal with these issues.  

Keynote speakers: 

Helen Abadzi (University of Texas at Arlington)
Dr Carien Wilsenach (University of South Africa).

2nd Call for Papers:

Abstracts are invited for talks at the workshop. Talks should present original research in the topic area and will be 30 minutes long (with 15 minutes for questions).

Abstracts should be no longer than 1 page of text and 1 page of examples/references/appendices.

Abstracts of exceptional quality will be considered for keynote talks of 1 hour.

Send abstracts to Prof. Mark de Vos (m.a.de.vos at gmail.com) by 20 April 2015. The decision of the abstract committee will be communicated to you no later than 24 April.

LINGUIST List: Vol-26-1991	

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