BIG cities, small LANGUAGES: Deadline extension

Call for papers

BIG cities, small LANGUAGES
14-16 November  2018
Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin Germany

The SOAS World Languages InstituteMercator Research Centre/Fryske Akademy, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and LanguageDocumentation and the Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft cordially invite scholars, community organisations and community members to join the International Conference on “Big cities, small Languages” that will take place in Berlin, Germany, November 14-16 2018, at the Leibniz-Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin, Germany.

By now it is generally known that linguistic diversity of humanity is on rapid decline. Small languages become endangered and extinct, larger languagesshrink and become marginalized, driven by the economic forces of globalisation, but also by political suppression and environmental disasters. When we think of this process, we typically envision language communities in remote, rural places far from the centres of these economic forces. However, globalisation means urbanisation, the shift of population to big cities. By this process, big cities often become home to small languages, often leading to a surprisingly rich local linguistic diversity. London is home to over 250 languages and New York City of a stunning 800 and we estimate that there are at least 120 languages spoken in Berlin. 

The conference “BIG cities, small LANGUAGES” intends to bring together scholars from linguistics and social sciences with an interest and expertise insmall languages in urban areas, with a special focus on comparing situations in various cities. It should be a forum of exchange of information that includes the following topics: 

(a) How do small languages fare in multilingual urban contexts? When are they used, how does this change, what are the factors that keep them being spoken? 

(b) How do big cities deal with small languages? How are they recognized in political representation, in the school system, and generally, in the culture of the cities? 

(c) How do speakers of small languages consider their own linguistic situation? Are there activities to promote and stabilize the use of their languages, and do they work? 

(d) How do the languages influence each other, which forms of code switching and creolization can we observe?

Submission Guidelines

Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words. Each author is limited to a single abstract, including co-authored submissions. Please submit your abstract through EasyChair. Presentations will last 30 minutes in total, with 20 minutes for the talk and 10 minutes for discussion.

Submit through Easy Chair

Deadline for the receipt of abstracts: 15 June 2018
Notification of acceptance: 31 Juli 2018

Organising Committee

  • Mandana Seyfeddinipur (SOAS World Languages Institute)
  • Vera Ferreira (Centro Interdisciplinar de Documentacao Linguistics e Social)
  • Cor van der Meer (Mercator Research Centre / Fryske Akademy)
  • Manfred Krifka (Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft)
  • Natalia Gagarina (Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft)


All questions about submissions should be emailed to

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