Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Reykjavik: Nordic Language Variation: Theoretical, Sociolinguistic, and Infrastructural Perspectives

The conference "Nordic Language Variation: Theoretical, Sociolinguistic, and Infrastructural Perspectives" took place at the University of Iceland in Reykjavík from 7 to 9 October. The conference was organized as a combined meeting of the NLVN network and of the RILiVS series of exploratory workshops, funded by NordForsk and NOS-HS, respectively. Both of these grants have been devoted to bringing together different Nordic projects and research groups devoted to the study of language variation to exchange ideas and facilitate cross-fertilization, and although they both are ending, their spirit will be continued within the N'CLAV network at least for another couple of years.
Sali Tagliamonte (U of Toronto) talking – close knit listening
on the back row.  Photo: Øystein A. Vangsnes

The conference, which physically took place in the newly renocated National Museum of Iceland, commenced on Thursday 7 by Paul Kerswill (Lancaster) giving an invited lecture entitled Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English". Then followed presentations by Silje Villanger (Bergen), Kristine Bentzen (Tromsø), Karen Hagedorn (Aarhus), Helge Sandøy (Bergen), Miguel Vazquez (Copenhagen), Åshild Søfteland (Oslo), and David Håkansson (Uppsala) before the day was closed off by the second invited lecture by Sali Tagliamonte (Toronto) talking about "Linguistic change in real time: A contemporary study of the English quotative system".
Kristján Árnason and Sali Tagliamonte at the
department reception in Árnagarður.
Photo: Paul Kerswill

The second day, Friday 9, was opened by third invited speaker Alison Henry (Ulster) presenting her talk "Variation and change in Belfast English: transitive expletives and object shift". Then followed a joint paper by Øystein A. Vangsnes (Tromsø), Marit Westergaard (Tromsø), and Terje Lohndal (Maryland), and papers by Björn Lundquist (Tromsø), Jeffrey Parrott (Copenhagen), Nanna Haug Hilton (Groningen), Caroline Heycock (Edinburgh), and Kristján Árnason (Reykjavík). In the late afternoon session a number of different Icelandic projects on language variation were presented: Höskuldur Thráinsson first gave an overview, before the audience was given the opportunity to get a more in depth acquaintance with the various specific studies through posters. After the poster session, the crowd was invited up to the Institute for light refreshments and further discussions before dinner, which later took place at Hornið, Reykjavík's oldest Italian restaurant.

Tony Kroch (UPenn) lecturing on V2 and topicalization
in (Old) English and (Old) French.
Photo: Øystein A. Vangsnes
Saturday 9 October constituted the main infrastructure part of the conference. Tony Kroch (UPenn) started off by presenting his invited lecture on "The historical evolution of V2 and topicalization in English and French". The followed presentations by Anders Eriksson (Gothenburg), Anders Nøklestad (Oslo) and Øystein A. Vangsnes (Tromsø), and Heini Justinussen (Faroe Islands) before lunch. After lunch a variety of Icelandic corpus and database projects were presented, spanning from spoken language databases to a corpus of Old Icelandic poetry. Joel Wallenberg, Anton Karl Ingason, Einar Freyr Sigurðsson and Eiríkur Rögnvaldsson closed off the paper presentations by giving some preliminary results from their work on the Icelandic Parsed Historical Corpus (IcePaHC), before the scientific program as such was closed off with a general, plenary discussion.

Coffee break at the National Museum of Iceland.
Photo: Øystein A. Vangsnes
The social program however extended further into the Reykjavík Saturday evening, and as Yoko Ono lit the Imagine Peace Tower commemorating John Lennon's birthday, the crowd enjoyed dinner at the quayside restaurant Höfnin before – at least some members of it – went exploring the Icelandic nightlife. All in all it was a sucessful conference with excellent papers given in a nice atmosphere with ample opportunities for dicussions and socializing.

/Øystein Vangsnes

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