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Tue Nov 14 07:18:12 UTC 2000

From: Helle Metslang <helle at>
To: ura-list at
Subject: Conference on Language Development
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CALL: International Futuristic Conference on Language Development
Tallinn (Estonia), 12-14 March 2001

Organizers: Prof. Helle Metslang, Prof. Martin Ehala, Prof. Anu-Reet
Hausenberg, Dr. Mart Rannut, Dr. Silvi Vare.

Europe together with her languages is going through a period of major
rearrangements where the existence of a corresponding literary language
and its usage proves to be insufficient in achieving the "place under
the sun" in the next millenium world. Thus, we have the pleasure to
invite you to discuss the place, development trends and needs of a
language in this context, with the starting point at the Herderian

We expect oral (20 min.) and poster presentations in one of the
following sub-themes:
1. Language and technology
2. Language and resources
3. Language and structure
4. Language and ethnicity
The topics are elaborated in the explanatory paper below. In addition to
presentations, several panels and debates will be arranged. A selection
of papers will be published.

The working languages of the conference will be Estonian and English.
There will be no conference fee. For participation please submit your
contact data and the preliminary topic of your paper by 1 December. The
deadline for abstracts (1-4 pages, Word or rtf format) is 5 January
2001. Correspondence by e-mail is encouraged. The Organizing Committee
will provide help in arranging accommodation and in other vital matters.

Inquiries and participation:
Mart Rannut          rannut at
Helle Metslang       helle at

Snail mail (not popular at all): Chair of Estonian, Tallinn Pedagogical
University, Narva Rd 25/29, Tallinn EE10120 Estonia. Ph: +372 6409 312,
+372 6409 316.

The conference is dedicated to the European Language Year, 200 year
birth anniversary of Kristjan Jaak Peterson (a pioneer of the Estonian
language cultivation) and National Mother Tongue Day on 14 March.

 Explanatory paper

Concerning the hierarchy of communication networks one may divide
language development into three periods:
1. oral communication (vernacular, speaker-listener simultaneously
involved in the same place);
2. literary language-based oral as well as written communication (time
and space constraint not necessary thanks to Gutenberg);
3. communication between humans as well as machines, in the last case
code is used.
The bottleneck of the evolving code language as a means of communication
seems to be the multitude of constraints in the process of transfer
between humans and machines (cf. voice of a runny nose, inflicting mess
in speech perception!). At the same time several former constraints
inherent to literary language have been eliminated, like non-standard
lexicon or structure, thanks to self-learning programmes.
In this context we focus on the following:
· Is our language ready to  adapt itself to the new network?
· Are there linguistic levels comparable to technological levels, can we
pick and choose?
· What happens to literary language?

The technological development of languages creates a new elite "club"
for those languages which have the necessary resources available at its
market or in the form of governmental aid. Others (ca 95% of the
existing languages) will be ranked as losers, shifting to the lower
level of diglossic hierarchy (If one can’t speak to one’s coffee-pot in
one’s mother tongue, one changes language!). Some challenges:
· What is the price for the place in the technological elite club of
· Where to find the resources, in what form, where to start, how to
implement these?

The changes in the political and social structure of a society have
resulted in increased variability of language. Globalisation and
integration into major international political (EU) or security
structures (NATO) has impact on the language of speakers concerned. Some
issues to elaborate on:
· Language contacts - harm or profit?
· Towards simplified or sophisticated language?
· The role of language cultivation in the new situation.

While since Herder language has been linked to its speakers, their
homeland and their culture through mother tongue, the era of
postmodernity with migrational flows and globalisation, societal
fragmentation and soft security needs a fresh approach to language and
its place. Some points to think on:
· contemporary ethnicity-language link;
· multilingualism and the rights concerned;
· Do we need an innovative societal theory for language?

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