Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Conference: Tromsø International Conference on Language Diversity

Dates: 6–8 November 2013
Organizers: Tromsø University
Contact: Øystein Vangsnes
Deadline for submission: May 1, 2013
Notification of acceptance: Early June 2013

Confirmed keynote speakers include:
Kenneth R. Beesley, SAP Labs, Salt Lake City, USA
Raphael Berthele, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Ellen Bialystok, York University, Canada
Kendall King, University of Minnesota, USA
Elana Shohamy, Tel Aviv University, Israel

A central objective of the conference is to bring together research and policy making in the area of language diversity. Keynote speakers will include academics, politicians and public administrators, and at this point the following plenary speakers have confirmed their presence:

Abstracts for general session papers and proposals for workshops are invited by the submission deadline 1st May 2013.


The Tromsø International Conference on Language Diversity will be one of the seven main events during Språkåret 2013, the Norwegian national Language Year 2013, which marks both the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian linguist and poet Ivar Aasen and the 100th anniversary of Det Norske Teatret (‘The Norwegian Theater’). Språkåret 2013 aims to be a generous and inclusive celebration of language diversity.

Language is the most important defining characteristic of human beings. Yet, language comes in a multitude of forms, and differences across languages and variation within them affect society and the lives of individuals in a number of ways. Why don't we all speak the same? Why do some societies manage well with several languages whereas others do not? Why are regional languages promoted in some areas and why are minority languages suppressed in others? How is cognitive development in children affected by growing up with two rather than just one language – or with two dialects rather than just one? Do language issues affect the health of a population? Does language diversity constitute a security challenge in certain circumstances? Is the ability to understand closely related linguistic varieties desirable, and if so, should it be promoted through political measures? 

The questions are numerous and the central purpose of the conference is to highlight them and bring together research and policy making in discussing the assets and challenges regarding language diversity. Thematically the conference will focus on three main areas: cognitive and developmental aspects of language diversity, its impact on society in general, and language technology. There will be a combination of parallel sessions/workshops, plenary talks and panel debates, and we envisage discussions on issues such as the economic and societal benefits of language diversity, language diversity in education, language diversity as cultural heritage, the future of language diversity in language technology, etc.

Submission guidelines

Session papers

Abstracts are invited for 30-minute presentations (including discussion) on any topic concerning language diversity. We strongly encourage papers that highlight issues that bear on the societal and political relevance of language diversity. 

Abstracts should not exceed 500 words and 1 page in length (excluding references). 


We are also soliciting organizers for workshops on various topics that highlight societal implications and aspects of language diversity, and the following non-exhaustive list gives an impression of relevant topics.

- Language diversity and universal design
- Language, discrimination and mental health
- Machine translation and minority languages
- Bilingualism and education
- Bilingualism versus bidialectalism
- Language revitalization
- Historical minority languages in Europe
- Minority language as an asset in tourism
- Minority languages and language technology
- Language diversity and economy

Workshop proposals may be of two kinds:

1. Thematic workshops with a series of at most six 30-minute paper presentations. One or two of the slots may be used for general discussion. Upon submission of the proposal, the workshop organizers should provide a description of the workshop and include a list of speakers with paper titles. The workshop should be open to all participants at the conference, and the time slots must follow the time slots for the general sessions. The proposal should be no more than two A4 pages in length.

2. General discussion/panel sessions lasting one and a half hours. Proposals for such short workshops should include a description of the topic and a list of at least four participants and their area of expertise relevant to the topic. The proposed session must be open to all conference participants. The proposal should be no more than one A4 page in length. 

For both kinds of workshops, prospective organizers are strongly urged to get in touch with the conference organizers in due time before the submission deadline in order to get feedback on the feasibility of the proposal. Proposals that include participation from both research and politics/public administration are most welcome. 


The deadline for submission is 1st May 2013 at midnight Central European Time. All submissions should be made through the EasyChair system by following this link

Contributors will be notified by early June 2013 about the outcome of the review process, and a program for the conference will be launched as soon as possible thereafter. 

Important dates

1 May – Deadline for submission of abstracts (papers and workshops)
Early June – Notification of acceptance
Late June – Program launch and registration opens
1 October – Registration deadline
6-8 November – Conference takes place

Further information about practical matters, side events and so forth will be put out on the conference web site in due time. The organizers of the conference can be contacted at

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

GLOW Workshop Variation and Change, Lund 2013-04-02

Date: Tuesday 2 April, 2013
Organizers: David Håkansson (Uppsala),Ida Larsson (Stockholm), Erik Magnusson Petzell (Stockholm)
Contact: Ida Larsson [ida dot larsson at nordiska dot su dot se]
Invited speaker: Marit Westergaard, University of Tromsø
Deadline for submission: November 15, 2012 
Notification of acceptance: January 20, 2013
Submission of abstracts: Easychair

PDF version of the call for papers for this workshop

Conference site:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Arjeplog field work: On languages and dialects in the area

Olavi Korhonen presenting
Olavi Korhonen, professor emeritus in Saami languages and culture at Umeå University, Sweden, started the day by explaining the etymology of the place name Arjeplog, and it's Saami roots. He also told us that we are literally on Ume Saami grounds, at Hornavan hotel, since the traditional isogloss between two Saami varieties in the area, Ume Saami and Arjeplog Saami (Pite Saami), was drawn at lake Hornavan.

On the isoglosses between different Saami varieties, Korhonen stressed that there is not one more important Saami isogloss that actually coincides with any administrative border.

Korhonen also discussed how it is possible to use place names and geographic marks to establish where borders between different Saami areas have been in past times. When place names indicate a linguistic border, an isogloss, you may go looking for geographic proof in the nature,  for instance mounds of stones, often built in pyramid shape to show that they were made by a human hand.

We also heard about Saami crafts, for instance the tradition of making good strong ropes from the roots of pine trees, and learned about different Saami spelling systems and how orthography does not always correspond to the actual local pronunciation. In some instances it is more important to have a more strict correspondence than in others.

Joshua Wilbur
Joshua Wilbur continued by speaking about how Swedish has affected the Saami language in the area. Some examples: In the lexicon there are of course many words for recent innovations that Pite Saami has borrowed, like words for computer or car, but also grammatical words like the adverb kan (corresponding to Swedish kanske 'maybe') have been borrowed.

Also when it comes to prosody Wilbur reports Swedish influence. In recent loan words the prosodic template of initial stress in the Pite Saami language may be abandoned. There are also instances of utterance final devoicing in Saami corresponding to the sound pattern in the Swedish Arjeplog dialect. On a morphosyntactic level Wilbur has noticed that Pite Saami possessive suffixes have essentially disappeared, while possessive pronouns are almost exclusively used to express possession within an NP (just as in North Germanic), and that the dual/plural distinction in verb-subject agreement is diminishing. Also, the question particle in polar questions in Pite Saami is very uncommon, and may have given way to, among other things, verb initial Swedish style polar questions.

After lunch, Ann-Charlotte Sjaggo presented on the subject "Speakers and Speech in Arjeplog" telling us, among other things, how Swedish speakers arrived to the area in the 17th century to work with mining, an occupation that ended in a couple of decades. Some hundred years later there were only eight swedish farms in this vast area, but in the late 18th century the mining at Nasafjäll started again, and a more substantial immigration of Swedish speakers started.

Sjaggo told us that there are records even from the beginning of the 19th century that the Swedish spoken in Arjeplog bore influence from the Saami language. The Swedish Arjeplog dialect has traces also from Ångermanland and Umeå dialects, which is not surprising, Sjaggo reported, since the early Swedish settlers in Arjeplog came from these areas.

Michael Rießler presented in more detail how the Saami language has influenced the Swedish Arjeplog dialect, most of all in the sound system. And last but not least Anna Westerberg from the Institute of Language and Folklore presented Arjeplog, Pite and Skellefte Swedish dialects in more detail, showing – among other things – how different dialectal traits spread in the river valleys. Westerberg also gave us a quick "survival guide" to prepare for the meeting with Pite and Skellefte dialects, for instance their interesting vowel sounds, including the old diphthongs.

/Maia Andréasson

Friday, October 12, 2012

Arjeplog field work: On documentary linguistics

Joshua Wilbur, Kristina Kotcheva Rießler and Michael Rießler started the seminar with a presentation of documentary lingustics.

Wilbur cited  Himmelmann  2006, and said that what we create when we document a language is in fact a "multi purpose record of a language". The outcome of your research may serve not only linguistic purposes. A lot of the material that you gather is more or less linguistic, but metadata and – for instance – the actual content of the recordings might very well be used for other types of research, but also by the languages speakers themselves – depending on whether the data may be accessed by the public or not.

Letting the speakers of an endangered language get access to the data collected can be considered one way to give something back a speech community that has helped you with your research. (There are of course legal and ethical considerations that you need to take into consideration, when you decide who gets access to the data collected, but if it is possible.).

Some challenges with documenting a language were addressed. One of these is how we get this multi purpose documentation of spoken language to be long lasting.  We do need to take into consideration that our data must be in a format that may be read, also in the future, when the formats that we work with today may have become outdated. Also, it is important to use formats that may be easily shared.

Quoting Michael Rießler: "If it's not accessible, it's not really archived. It's just stored."

In the middle of the day Øystein Vangsnes (and to some extent me) presented and problematised the work that lies behind the Nordic Dialect Corpus and Database, and the entire group discussed methodology in collecting linguistic data, in particular how to go aboout when doing huge questionnaires with new informants.

The last part of the afternoon was used to practice using ELAN, a tool for annotation of recordings.

/Maia Andréasson

Fieldwork in Arjeplog

Today the fieldwork in Arjeplog starts.

Today's program: 

Fredag 12. oktober

Språkdokumentasjon – innledning
v/Joshua Wilbur, Michael Rießler og Kristina Kotcheva-Rießler

Innsamlingsmetoder i prosjektet Nordisk dialektsyntaks (ScanDiaSyn)
v/Øystein A. Vangsnes og Maia Andréasson

Opptaksteknikker – lyd og video, spørreskjema
v/Joshua Wilbur, Øystein A. Vangsnes og Michael Rießler

Innføring i bruk av ELAN
v/Michael Rießler og Joshua Wilbur

Praktiske øvinger med ELAN og annet
v/Michael Rießler, Kristina Kotcheva-Rießler og Joshua Wilbur

Read more about the fieldwork here:


Monday, January 16, 2012

EdiSyn Wiki on Dialect Syntax

Have you noticed that EdiSyn has launched a Wiki on dialect syntax? It contains information on researchers, institutions, projects, you name it. And as with all Wikis, anyone can contribute!

Check it out at! And contribute.



5th Conference of the translation of dialects in multimedia 


 The conference is directed at academics from various disciplines as well as translators and students who are interested in the translation of dialects in multimedia contexts. The conference will concentrate on a complex, interdisciplinary subject area involving linguistics, communication studies, film studies and translation studies as well as other areas of cultural studies, sociology and other disciplines. The main topics to be covered at the conference include dubbing, subtitling films in dialect and linguistic varieties; theatre translation; cultural transfer processes in the characteristics of dialects; archaisms, regionalisms, varieties in the continuum between dialect and standard language; diglossia (national language and regional or local language; “official” and “non official” language); the use of new technologies in the translation of dialect. To these areas the Host Committee welcomes proposals for 20-minute papers.

  • Papers are welcome in the conference languages indicated. 
  • Papers presented in languages other than English will require a further abstract in English to be distributed as a hand-out during their presentation. 
  • Conference languages: English, German, Italian, Finnish, Swedish, French. 
  • The deadline for sending abstracts in one of the official Conference languages AND in English (500 words) is 29 February, 2012 
  • The Scientific Committee will return its decision around 30th march