RUEG2021: Dynamics of Language Contact: new perspectives on emerging grammars, variation and change

Страна: Германия

Город: Berlin

Тезисы до: 01.08.2020

Даты: 21.02.21 — 23.02.21

Область наук: Филологические;

Е-мейл Оргкомитета: esther.jahns AT

Организаторы: Humboldt-Universität Berlin


In the past, language contact was often regarded as exceptional and multilingualism was either seen as a potential problem, as reflected in Jespersen’s (1922) and similarly in Weisgerber’s (1966) early assumptions that multilingualism poses a cognitive problem, or it was neglected, as in the structural linguistics’ tradition which, beginning from Saussure (1916), focusses on an idealized, stable, and implicitly monolingual language system, also evident in Chomsky’s (1965) notion of competence of an ideal speaker-hearer. Accordingly, linguistic phenomena observed in language contact situations, and linguistic practices and competences of multilingual or bilingual speakers have mostly been the domain of specialised research, and tend to be investigated from the point of view of deviations from monolingual data.

While this might seem a natural way to look at it, lately there have been more and more calls to overcome such a deficit-oriented view, feeding into a discussion that acknowledges linguistic diversity as a normal condition of human language, normalises multilingualism and regards bilinguals as regular native speakers (e.g. Grosjean 2008, Bayram 2013, Rothman & Treffers-Daller 2014, Scontras et al. 2015, Guijarro-Fuentes & Schmitz 2015, Kupisch & Rothman 2016, Schroeder 2016, Bak 2017).

This moves research on language contact and multilingual speakers from the fringes to the centre of linguistic research, and makes it fruitful for our understanding of language structure and linguistic representations, language use and language development.

A particularly interesting population for this is that of “heritage speakers”, that is, of speakers who grew up bi- or multilingually with at least one minority language and a majority language (cf. among others Montrul 2016, Polinsky 2018, Lohndal et al. 2019 for details). This pattern supports intense language contact in dynamic linguistic repertoires, with the heritage language typically starting as a native language at home, while the larger society’s majority language usually becomes the speaker’s dominant language later.

The Research Unit “Emerging grammars in language contact situations: A comparative approach” (RUEG; has picked up on this with an integrated, large-scale investigation that has been driven by a positive, multilingual perspective on heritage speakers’ linguistic behaviour. Under this perspective, we think of the dynamics, rather than vulnerability, of different linguistic domains, of development, rather than incomplete acquisition, and of innovation, rather than attrition and loss in heritage speakers’ languages.

This international conference marks the completion of RUEG’s first 3-year-period. It aims to bring together researchers from different fields who study the dynamics of language contact from a positive, multilingual perspective.

We invite submissions on language contact phenomena from the point of view of linguistic systems (grammatical structure, linguistic architecture), and speakers (competence, choices, sociolinguistic factors). In addition to papers presenting new findings on language contact phenomena, we also welcome methododological papers with a general focus on studying linguistic patterns outside standard language. We will have three thematic sessions dedicated to different aspects of heritage speakers’ language production and comprehension, and a poster session. The three thematic sessions will be introduced by invited speakers, followed by commentaries.

List of Topics

  • Language Contact
  • Heritage Languages
  • Multilingualism
  • Multilingualism in Education
  • Emerging Grammars

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