Language Endangerment and the Speaker

March 3th, 2015

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Language Endangerment and the Speaker

Office du JerriaisMinority Languages


The Fifth Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment will take place on Friday July 31st 2015 at the Alison Richard Building, Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge and Peterhouse. The theme will be:

Language Endangerment and the Speaker.
Alternative identities, new speech communities and changing linguistic norms.

Ensuring an increase in speaker numbers is a crucial part of the successful revitalisation of an endangered language. These efforts often target schoolchildren, in the hope of re-establishing communication between generations in the endangered language, and other age-groups, who identify with the cultural context of the endangered language but who may have been denied the opportunity of acquiring it via intergenerational transmission. The recruitment of ‘new’ speakers can therefore often have a marked effect on the existing endangered language speech community in terms of its social make-up, its identity and its language practices. This conference invites papers that reflect on these issues: To what extent should reversing language shift incorporate identity planning? How do the actors of revitalization persuade members of the ‘dominant’ speech community that their current identity would be enhanced by its repackaging to include the endangered language? How successful has formal education actually been in both increasing speaker numbers and, crucially, in transmitting the endangered language in an effective way? Do ‘new’ speakers use the endangered languages in different ways from ‘traditional’ speakers and to what extent do these two groups in fact interact with each other? Do the linguistic norms and practices of ‘new’ speakers vary from those of the ‘traditional’ speakers? Does the speech of ‘new’ speakers reveal evidence of innovative linguistic features?

**Deadline for receipt of abstracts (200 words) is April 1st 2015**.