International Seminar on Endangered and Indigenous Languages

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Jan 13 14:13:19 UTC 2008

Full Title: International Seminar on Endangered and Indigenous Languages
Short Title: ISEIL

Date: 01-Mar-2008 - 03-Mar-2008
Location: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Contact Person: Panchanan Mohanty
Meeting Email:

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics; Computational Linguistics; General
Linguistics; Language Documentation

Call Deadline: 20-Jan-2008

Meeting Description

The 'International Seminar on Endangered and Indigenous Languages', at the
Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies (CALTS), University of
Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India, would focus on various linguistic and
socio-linguistic aspects of different endangered and indigenous
languages of the
Indian sub-continent, with special reference to morpho-syntactic, typological,
cognitive, socio-linguistic, educational and technologogical aspects.

We are pleased to announce an International Seminar on Endangered and
Languages, which will take place from 01-03 March, 2008 at the Centre for
Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies (CALTS), University of Hyderabad,
Hyderabad, India.

According to Crystal (2000), of the 6000 to 7000 languages in the world, over
the next century two languages are predicted to die each month. Starting with
the UNESCO adopting the 'Endangered Languages Project' at a conference in 1993,
various funds and projects have been instituted to look into this serious
problem. As a linguistically pluralistic society, we in India have a greater
responsibility of understanding linguistic diversity and factors that affect
negatively or enhance a language's chances of survival and prosperity. Various
parameters have been used to define the term ''endangered languages''.
Endangered languages are thus understood to be those languages which are
moribund, that is, not being passed to the next generation any more
(Krauss1992); those which are acquired by few or no children, and the youngest
good speakers are young adults (Wurm, 1998); those spoken by enough people to
make survival a possibility, but only in favourable circumstances and with a
growth in community support (Kincade 1991); those that have come to be
less used
in educational, political and other public situations; those which
have suffered
discourse attrition so much that they have ended up surviving in just one
domain; and /or those showing rapid change by incorporating features from other
contact languages. With indigenous languages too the issues are as manifold.
Among the issues that affect these languages are the effects of globalization
which work to homogenize and standardize, thereby vitally affecting linguistic
and cultural diversity (McCarty 2003). Among issues closely related to these
languages are issues of maintenance and renewal through supporting these
languages in education and government policies. This has to be done keeping in
mind the global demand for English language skills.

The present seminar aims to bring together linguists working in the fields of
language documentation, typology, field linguistics, syntax, morphology,
cognitive linguistics, language planning and language teaching to address
various issues and concerns related to indigenous and/or endangered languages
and to discuss the linguistic characteristics of some of the indigenous and
endangered languages of India. Some of the questions that this seminar aims to
address include:

- the issue of cultural identity in an increasingly globalized culture
- the crumbling cultural heritage of many peoples
- the intellectual disaster for the world if we are left with only a
few languages
- factors affecting language endangerment like the rate of acquisition of a
language by the children, attitude of the community to a language, level of
impact of other languages as well as extraneous factors like political
structures, electronic media; recording and assessing techniques; educational
- bilingualism and multilingualism; cultural identity; and/or the issue of a
serious loss of inherited knowledge through language death.

Why should we care if a language dies? Is it not desirable for the world to be
free from the chaos of so many languages and have only one globally accepted
language? Is this dream possible? How has the study of various endangered and
indigenous languages contributed to our understanding of what human language is

What is it like to be without your rightful mother tongue? How do factors like
political structures, electronic media; recording and assessing techniques;
educational programmes; bilingualism and multilingualism; and/or cultural
identity become the causes of language death?

How can arguments which support the need for biological diversity also apply to
language? In the language of ecology, the strongest ecosystems are those which
are most diverse. According to Odum (1986) ''?variety may be a necessity in the
evolution of natural systems''. If diversity is prerequisite for successful
humanity, then is not the preservation of linguistic diversity essential?

In a globalized world what kind of community-based native-language programmes
can be developed to guarantee the use of native language as well as develop
English language skills?

How can bilingualism through educational policy be promoted in such a way that
native/indigenous languages are not left out to slowly die (Reyhner and Tennant

Can language revitalization be restricted to language documentation? What steps
can be taken for these languages that in Fishman's words suffer from ''lack of
sufficient inter-generational mother-tongue transmission'' (Fishman. 1995)? -

What is the impact of language policy on indigenous languages? Is policy-making
sufficient to ensure the revitalization of languages suffering from
non-transmission in the home-domain? How can legislation help speakers of
indigenous and endangered languages claim some public space (Romaine 2002) and
how is this important?-

Technological innovations in the areas of language documentation,
databases and dictionary software, educational and instructional
software, etc.-

Morpho-syntactic and typological characteristics of endangered and indigenous
languages of India


Crystal, David. 2000. Language death. Cambridge: CUP.
Fishman, Joshua. 1995. Maintaining Languages: What Works? What Doesn't? Paper
presented at the Second Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium, Northern
Arizona University.
Kincade, M Dale. 1991. The decline of native languages in Canada. In Robins and
Uhlenbeck (eds), 157-76.
Krauss, Michael. 1992. The world's languages in crisis. Language 68.4-10.
Matsumura, Kazuto, ed.. 1998. Studies in Endangered Languages (Papers from the
International Symposium on Endangered Languages, Tokyo, November 18-20). Tokyo:
Hituzi Shobo
McCarty, Teresa L. 2003. Revitalising indigenous languages in homogenising
times. Comparative Education 39.2: 147-163.
Odum, Eugene P. 1986. Ecosystems. Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th edn.
XVII, 979-83.
Reyhner, Jon, and Edward Tennant. 1995. Maintaining and renewing native
languages. The Bilingual Research Journal 19.2: 279 - 304.
Robins, R.H., and E.M Uhlenbeck, eds. 1991. Endangered Languages.
Oxford and New
York: Berg.
Romaine, Suzanne. 2002. The impact of language policy on endangered languages.
International Journal on Multicultural Societies 4.2: 194-212
Wurm, Stephen A. 1998. Methods of language maintenance and revival, with
selected cases of language endangerment in the world. In Kazuto
Matsumura (ed.),

Abstract Submission

Abstracts for a 30-minute talk (20-minute presentation + 10-minute discussion)
must be at most one page long (minimum margins: 2.5 cm or 1 inch; size of
characters: at least 12 points; spacing: single). An optional second page is
permitted for data, figures and references. Please submit your abstract in both
.pdf and .doc formats to The abstract should start with
the title of paper followed by the author's name, email address,
affiliation and
the abstract. If the abstract includes additional fonts, please attach
them with
your mail.

Important Dates

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 20th January, 2008
Notification of acceptance: 25th January, 2008
Deadline for submission of full papers: 15th February, 2008

Travel and Accommodation

We provide local accommodation and hospitality. We would appreciate if the
participants can get themselves deputed by their institutions. However, we will
try to support those who cannot get it.

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