CFP: FEL VIII: On the Margins of Nations: Endangered Languages and Linguistic Rights; Barcelona, 1-3 Oct 2004

Nicholas Ostler nostler at
Wed Feb 25 18:56:00 UTC 2004

Call for Abstracts: FEL VIII - Linguistic Rights

The Foundation for Endangered Languages: Eighth Conference
Barcelona, 1-3 October 2004


The Foundation for Endangered Languages' annual meeting comes back to
Europe this year, specifically to Barcelona, the capital of
Catalonia, on Spain's eastern seaboard.  Our topic will be
"endangered languages and linguistic rights", addressed both through
reports on actual experience, and through prescriptions for policy.
All approaches will be welcome, but three aspects of this vast field
are especially suggested for discussion:

1)	The politics of language from the grass-roots activity to
political institutions at all levels: how are linguistic rights
acknowledged and, where necessary, enforced? How can communities act
to defend them?
2)	The interplay of the global and the local in linguistic
rights - international, national and local: how are identities being
redefined in post-nationist discourses?
3)	Endangered languages and linguistic rights crossing borders:
what rights can be asserted and duties accepted in diaspora
situations, in divided language communities and where languages are
spoken by migrant groups?

We view  language politics and language policy simultaneously from
the bottom up and the top down. Language communities' struggle for
rights may take different forms and pursue different goals.
	What claims are the communities making?
	What are the goals of grass-roots action?
	To what extent can one language community take advantage of
another's goals and methods?
	Can any effective language policies be developed top-down?
	How do such policies affect the acknowledgement and
enforcement of linguistic rights, from bare toleration up to strong
promotion of endangered languages?
	Is positive discrimination necessary in order to achieve
equality among languages in a community?
	Where language revitalization programs are in progress, how
are duties shared among speaker communities and political powers?
	Is there any way to assess language policies / language
revitalization programmes and their effectiveness?

In a world with ever heightened communications, the interplay between
the local and the global is increasingly complex. We need to analyse
the status of endangered languages with respect to linguistic rights
and politics, which now extend beyond the nation to supranational and
global organizations. How relevant, for example, are international
measures and recommendations, such as UNESCO's Declaration on
Cultural Diversity (2002), Proclamation of Masterpieces of the Oral
and Intangible Heritage (1998) and proposal for a "Convention sur la
diversitŽ culturelle" (2003)?

Most endangered languages and communities are enclaves within the
limits of a state. Others, however, spread across political and other
boundaries. Borders may be considered as either barriers or
opportunities. We shall focus on the causes and consequences of these
	How does this cross-border situation affect people's linguistic rights?
	What kind of policies are favoured by governments towards
such divided language communities?
	What kind of international agreements have been / may be
developed to manage the issue?
	What happens when the linguistic situation is uneven across a
community, with differing rates of language shift or language

One social effect of globalization is an increase in migration. This
poses other issues:
	What are the rights of diaspora and migrant communities?
	What are the rights and duties of immigrants in their host country?
	What are the rights of nomadic people?

This discussion of rights may end up posing interesting challenges to
the kind of discourse that has become usual about endangered
languages, which has tended to emphasize the intrinsic value of
diversity. But ultimately, we may need to engage in quite different
discourses for different audiences. Different communities too may
prefer to rely on different lines of argument, and quite different

Catalonia's concern for language rights is well-known. It is attested
by the Mercator Project on European minority languages, whose
Barcelona site deals with language legislation. It is attested by the
Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights, which was read out in a
wealth of languages and voices in Barcelona on 6-9 June 1996.  Above
all, Catalonia has been notable for its success in asserting the
place of its own language in the context of the Spanish state. It is
highly natural that a conference on Language Rights should take place
in Barcelona.Ê

And Barcelona is a city of the European Union Ð a polity that is
neither a state nor an international organization.  The Union aspires
to respect linguistic diversity, but its linguistic regime provides
no official status for minority or endangered languages Ð even when
official in their own states.

Barcelona lies on the shore of the Mediterranean, where peoples,
languages and cultures have crossed Ð and merged Ð  throughout
history. The city's name comes from the great Carthaginian general
Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal. The local language, Catalan, is -
like French, Spanish, Provenal and many others - derived from Latin.
It has a glorious mediaeval past, when it was standardized and  used
widely in all types of literature as well as government. But from the
16th century the country began to lose its institutions of
self-government and the use of the language in literature decayed. In
the 19th century "la Renaixena" reversed this decline. The embryo of
the "Institut d'Estudis Catalans" (IEC), which is co-hosting the
conference with FEL, was created in 1907. Over the next 25 years it
undertook the codification of Modern Catalan, culminating in a
dictionary published in 1932. Since the approval of the Spanish
Constitution (1978) and the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia (1979)
Catalan has become an official language in Catalonia side by side
with Spanish Ð as well as in other regions in which Catalan is
spoken, such as the Balearic Islands and Valencia.

The confluence of bottom-up and top-down policies is one reason for
the degree of success that Catalan language policy has achieved.
Catalans, however, have a tragic perception of their self and their
language: there is constant discussion on the progress, and even the
survival, of the language.  All this has given birth to the idea,
expressed by many scholars, that Catalonia is a laboratory of
sociolinguistics and language policy. It is a fitting place, then,
for FEL's latest consideration of endangered languages and their
place in the world.

Abstract Submission

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. They  should be submitted in
two ways: by electronic submission and also on paper. They will be
accepted in English and Catalan.

1) Electronic submission: Electronic submission (by 19 March 2004)
should be as attachment in Word or format in email message to
<jargenter at> Please fill in the subject domain as follows:

2) Paper abstracts: Three copies should be sent (by 19 March 2004) to:

Dr. Joan A. Argenter
Cˆtedra UNESCO de LlengŸes i Educaci—
VIII FEL Conference
Institut d'Estudis Catalans
Carrer del Carme, 47
E-08001 Barcelona
Catalonia, Spain

This should have a clear short title, but should not bear anything to
identify the author(s).

On a separate sheet, enclosed in an envelope, please include the
following information:

NAME : Names of the author(s)
TITLE: Title of the paper
EMAIL: Email address of the first author, if any
ADDRESS: Postal address of the first author
TEL: Telephone number of the first author, if any
FAX: Fax number of the first author, if any

The name of the first author will be used in all correspondence. If
possible, please also send an e-mail to Joan A. Argenter
<jargenter at> informing him of the hard copy submission. This
is in case the hard copy does not reach its destination. This e-mail
should contain the information specified in the above section.

Oral presentations will last twenty minutes each, with a further ten
minutes for discussion. Plenary lectures will last forty-five minutes
each. Authors will be expected to submit a written paper with the
full version of the lecture for publication in the proceedings well
in advance of the conference.

Important Dates

·	Abstract submission deadline 19 March 2004
·	Committee's decision 12 April 2004
·	In case of acceptance, the full paper should be sent before
18 June 2004.
                 (Further details on the format of text will be
specified to the authors)
·	Conference 1-3 October  2004

                        Nicholas  Ostler
              Foundation for Endangered Languages
		UK Registered Charity 1070616

              Batheaston Villa,  172 Bailbrook Lane
              Bath           BA1 7AA        England
              +44-1225-85-2865 fax +44-1225-85-9258
                   nostler at

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