Call for Abstracts for FEL IX Stellenbosch - Migration and Marginalization

Nicholas Ostler nostler at CHIBCHA.DEMON.CO.UK
Mon Apr 4 12:47:15 UTC 2005

Call for Abstracts: FEL IX - Creating Outsiders: Endangered Languages,
Migration and Marginalization

The Foundation for Endangered Languages: Ninth Conference
Stellenbosch, South Africa, 18-20 November 2005

Today's world-maps, political and linguistic, were laid out through
human population movements, some ancient but some of them very recent.
In this year's conference we want to address the effects of these
movements on language communities: how they dissolve communities, and
change their status; how communities may re-form in foreign places, and
the relations between incomers and the established populations,
whichever has the upper hand; the impact of empires, deportation, mass
immigration, population loss from emigration. Remembered migration
histories may be relevant to the modern self-image of communities.
Internal migration by dominant-language speakers into the territories of
minorities may lead to the marginalization of others /in situ/; and
minorities often decamp to the dominant centres under various pressures.

The UN has declared a second International Decade of the World's
Indigenous Peoples. The languages we talk about will be very varied, and
likely to include the languages of communities all over the world. Some
of them are spoken by indigenous communities, which have become a
minority on their own original territory due to the immigration of a
dominant majority group. This kind of marginalization is very common,
and notable examples include the San languages in South Africa, the Ainu
language in Japan and many pre-Hispanic languages in California. It
plays a major role in the current civil disorder in Nepal. In some
cases, endangered languages may have gone into their own world-wide
diapora: such is the case of Plautdietsch, language of the Mennonites,
who emigrated to many places (Siberia, Canada, Mexico, Paraguay), where
often their language became marginalised.

Marginalization can, however, result from a variety of causes: a state
policy of forced assimilation, military domination, religious
conversion, the wish for social betterment, attendance at boarding
schools, etc. We shall look at how both the State and communities can
address the causes of marginalization, and of course its effects on the
survival and development of languages.

Besides the international dimension, this year's location in South
Africa will give members an opportunity to get acquainted with many of
the local linguistic issues, among them the position of Khoe and
San, the past and future of Afrikaans, but also the Makhuwa-speaking
ex-slaves from Durban, the Phuthi speakers from Eastern Cape, and no
doubt many others.

Issues that may arise include:

· Why are migration histories so treasured as sources of language identity?

· Do language-communities always (or ever) have better prospects of
survival in their home territories than when transplanted?

· Can language-communities on their home ground and in diaspora give
each other effective support?

· Can small language-communities create new identities in remote

· Can new communities resulting from migration or deportation establish
a new quasi-indigenous identity based on a shared language?

· What is the value of cultural resources for maintenance of status and
active language use within endangered language communities?

· Do technical media have a significant role in combatting or
reinforcing marginalization?

· Is it possible to reconcile the recognition of official languages with
respect for a much larger number of indigenous languages?

· Can minority and even endangered languages play an active role in a
state’s policy of multilingualism?

Local Site

The University of Stellenbosch is in South Africa's Western Cape, close
to Cape Town. It has had a Department of African Languages for more than
half a century (; it has a
Department of General Linguistics (.../linguist/index_english.htm) and a
Language Centre (.../taalsentrum/index_engframeset.htm).

Abstract Submission

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words. They may be submitted in two
ways: by electronic submission, and alternatively on paper. Most simply,
they should be written in English. Other languages may also be accepted
by prior arrangement with the Conference Chair Nigel Crawhall
<crawhall at> or FEL Chairman Nicholas Ostler
<nostler at>

1) Electronic submission: Electronic submission (by 24 April 2005)
should be as an attachment in Word, or simply as an email message to
<crawhall at>, with a copy to <FEL at>. Please
fill in the subject domain as follows: FEL_Abstract

The e-mail should also contain, in the following format:

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.

2) Paper abstracts: Three copies should be sent (to arrive by 1 May
2005) to:

FEL IX Conference Admin
Foundation for Endangered Languages
172 Bailbrook Lane
Bath BA1 7AA
United Kingdom

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 Funmi Adeniyi
<FEL at> informing her of the paper submission. This is
in case the hard copy does not reach its destination in time. 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 arrival deadlines - 24 April 2005 (e-mail); 1 May 2005 (by post)
· Committee's decision 15 May 2005
· In case of acceptance, the full paper should be sent by 31 Aug 2005.
(Further details on the format of text will be specified to the authors)
· Conference 18-20 November 2005

Foundation for Endangered Languages
Registered Charity: England and Wales 1070616
172 Bailbrook Lane, Bath BA1 7AA, England
+44-1225-852865  nostler at

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