CfP – Contested Languages in the Old World 4, CLOW4

Call for Papers

Definition and examples

Contested languages are typically related to yet linguistically distinct from the official languages of the state in which they are spoken; they further have a substantial number of speakers of different age groups (although younger speakers tend to be less conversant and prefer the use of the state language), often a distinct literary written tradition, and display some level of standardization and corpus planning. Still, these languages are often referred to as “dialects”, “patois” etc. in everyday (and sometimes in academic) discourse.

Typical cases of contested languages are several regional languages of Italy (Lombard, Piedmontese, Sicilian, Venetian, but also Sardinian – which has been officially recognized as a minority language – and others), the Netherlands (e.g. Frisian, in certain contexts), Germany (e.g. Bavarian, Low German, Swabian), and Poland (e.g. Kashubian, Silesian), a few regional languages of Spain (e.g. Aragonese, Asturian, or, in certain contexts, even Catalan), and most regional languages of France. We welcome all cases of contested languages within the European continuum.

We also include languages traditionally present in the continent which are either a-territorial or lacking a well-defined territory, such as various languages of the Roma people, Yiddish or Sami. Creole languages without a high degree of Ausbau and spoken by a consistent community in a territory of Europe (such as Papiamento in the Netherlands) can be included. In many cases, also sign languages are often contested in the European context. Finally, a special case of contested language is Esperanto.

Aim of the conference

The conference aims at bringing together scholars and activists working on the current status and future prospects of contested languages, as well as on issues of corpus, status and planning, and how these impact on the speaker communities themselves and on the academic world.


We welcome submission of abstracts for oral presentations (20 mins + 10 mins questions) and poster sessions on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • case studies of status, corpus and acquisition planning of any contested language in Europe;
  • empirical matters and research design concerning contested languages;
  • reflexions on standardisation concerning contested languages
  • comparison of the language policy and planning situations between two or more contested languages in Europe;
  • speakers’ attitudes towards specific contested languages in Europe, with a special attention to the theory and practice of “new speakers”;
  • the role of mobility in the usage of and attitudes towards contested languages in Europe;
  • government attitudes towards specific contested languages in Europe, with a special attention to distance between the overt policy and planning and the “hidden agendas”;
  • the impact of local legislation and/or local initiatives on the status and attitudes of contested languages in Europe, in their immediate visibility as well as the long-term goal, i.e. guaranteeing their intergenerational transmission;
  • economic analyses of actual and prospective language policy and planning of any contested language in Europe;
  • issues of Abstand and Ausbau relating to one or more contested language(s) of Europe;
  • and especially – due to the location of the conference – analyses of contested languages in the German speaking area (e.g. Low German, Bavarian, German Sign Language etc.).

Submission of abstracts

Abstracts should be around 500 words long. Please indicate whether you apply for a presentation or a poster. All abstracts will undergo anonymous review. For deadlines, see Important Dates.

Please submit your abstract to clow4 (at) .

Important: At least one author of each accepted paper or poster must register for the conference.

Early bird: 50 EUR
Regular: 70 EUR
Early bird PhD students: 25 EUR
Regular PhD students: 25 EUR
Early bird MA and BA students: 25 EUR
Regular MA and BA students: 25 EUR

Important Dates
Early Bird Registration Opens: October 14, 2019
Abstract Submission Closes: November 15, 2019
Acceptance Notification: January 17, 2020
Early Bird Registration Closes: March 6, 2020
Regular Registration Closes: April 30, 2020



Organising Committee
Chairs: Marco Tamburelli (University of Bangor), Mauro Tosco (University of Torino)

Local organisers: Astrid Adler, Albrecht Plewnia (Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim)

For all information concerning the conference, please write an email to: clow4 (at)

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