AcqVA: Acquisition, Variation & Attrition

Workshop: Bidialectalism

Structural and Developmental Aspects of Bidialectalism

When: October 25th–26th, 2017
Where: Tromsø, Norway



Tromsø: Travel and Accommodation
Call for papers (closed)

The AcqVA research group (Acquisition, Variation and Attrition) at University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT) and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) is pleased to announce the workshop Structural and Developmental Aspects of Bidialectalism, to be held in Tromsø October 25th-26th, 2017. The aim of the workshop is to bring together researchers who work on structural and developmental aspects of bidialectalism broadly understood as ‘bilingualism involving closely related linguistic varieties’.

Keynote speakers:
Professor Lisa Green, University of Massachusetts
Professor Leonie Cornips, Meertens Institute
Professor Raphael Berthele, University of Fribourg
Associate Professor Laura Wagner, Ohio State University

Although the focus of the workshop is not to investigate the distinction between ‘bilingualism’ and ‘bidialectalism’, we may remind ourselves about the notoriously difficult distinction between ‘language’ and ‘dialect’. A pair of distinct linguistic varieties may end up being categorized as dialects or as separate languages depending on whether one uses linguistic, historical, communicative, political or other criteria. For instance, by the communicative criterion “mutual intelligibility” the Mainland North Germanic varieties Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish should presumably be categorized as different dialects – which also squares with the largely common linguistic properties of the varieties – yet they are, for political and historical reasons, more commonly thought of as different languages.

In turn, Övdalian, a variety of North Germanic spoken in Central Sweden, is linguistically speaking much further from Standard Swedish than Norwegian is and it is furthermore not comprehensible to the average Swede. Nevertheless the official Swedish view is, for political reasons, that Övdalian is a dialect of Swedish. In a similar vein, the two written standards of Norwegian, Bokmål and Nynorsk, are by many considered different codified versions of the same language, although they have different historical origins and although there are linguistic differences between them similar to those found across the Mainland North Germanic varieties.

What is important about situations like these is that many speakers, both individuals and groups, end up with linguistic competencies whereby they use and/or deal with two closely related linguistic varieties on a daily basis. We wish to explore the characteristics of such situations, be it from a structural, developmental acquisition, societal or cognitive perspective.

A lot of research has been done on different types of bilingual groups (second language learners, successive bilinguals, heritage speakers etc.), but there is much less research on speakers who have extensive knowledge on two or more typologically very proximate languages. Many, or even most, speakers grow up speaking a certain variety in their home and community that on one or several levels may differ from other varieties or a national standard language that is later encountered in e.g. school and media, but yet little is known about these speakers’ representations of a (mutually intelligible) closely related spoken variety. Do we find the typical phenomena of bilingualism in bidialectalism? Do we see transfer, attrition and general influence from one variety to the other in bidialectal speakers? Is bidialectalism qualitatively different from bilingualism, or is there only gradual difference, possibly measurable in terms of typological proximity? See call for papers here.

Important dates:

  • Deadline for abstract submission: (closed)
  • Notification of acceptance: June 7, 2017
  • Registration opening: August 1, 2017
  • Registration deadline: October 1, 2017
  • Conference dates: October 25-26, 2017

Guro Busterud (NTNU)
Björn Lundquist (UiT)
Natalia Mitrofanova (UiT)
Yulia Rodina (UiT)
Jason Rothman (University of Reading, UiT)
Bror-Magnus S. Strand (UiT)
Øystein A. Vangsnes (UiT)
Andrew Weir (NTNU)

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