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Foundation for Endangered Languages

FEL XXIII (2019)
Causes of language endangerment:
Looking for answers and finding solutions to the global decline in linguistic diversity

Sydney Centre for Language Research
The University of Sydney
14-16 December 2019

This page last updated: 3rd September 2019 (accommodation options).

Important dates

Deadline for abstract submission:: CLOSED
Notification of acceptance: Now revised to Wednesday 28th August 2019
Deadline for submission of full papers: 30th October 2019
Early bird registration starts: 23rd June 2019
Early bird registration ends: 30th September 2019
Registration: Now open at http://utrecht.elsnet.org/fel/register.html
Conference 14-16th December 2019

About the conference

The Sydney Centre for Language Research at The University of Sydney and the Foundation for Endangered Languages, in this United Nations Year of Indigenous Languages, cordially invite scholars, community organizations and community members working on issues and challenges facing endangered languages, including documentation and archiving, to join the International conference on causes of language endangerment, to take place in Sydney, Australia on 14-16th December 2019.

This event is FEL XXIII, the 23rd of a series of annual conferences of the Foundation of Endangered Languages, and takes place during the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages.

The conference language is English. Printed proceedings will be published.

Main theme: Causes of language endangerment

In the UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages we face ongoing and rapid decline not only of Indigenous languages but of the world’s linguistic diversity. Why do languages become endangered? And what solutions might help arrest this decline? These are questions we seek to answer in this year’s conference. Many causes of language endangerment have been identified – ranging from speaker choices, to colonial interventions and invasions – that have forced communities to abandon or radically modify their languages. However, studies of language endangerment have not been brought together in a global discussion to look for commonalities and differences in the experiences and circumstances of endangerment.

While Indigenous languages in particular are in rapid decline, there are also many contact languages, pidgins and creoles, and varieties of dominant world languages that are also endangered. Sources such as Ethnologue aim to provide an index of the ‘vitality’ of each of the world’s languages, noting that while not all languages are endangered and that many have ‘oral and literary traditions and are being used for a wide variety of functions ... other communities, which have not achieved that status for their languages, are nevertheless taking steps to preserve the vitality of their languages by finding new ways of using them.’ We ask at this conference not only what is causing language endangerment but also what are successful solutions to the global decline in linguistic diversity.

Special theme: 2019 United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages

See https://en.iyil2019.org/

In 2016, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages, based on an estimate that 40 per cent of the world’s 6,700 languages are in danger and noting that most of these are Indigenous languages thus putting the cultures and knowledge systems to which they belong at risk. It is a matter of urgency that we understand what is causing these languages to become endangered and potentially to ‘disappear’.

There is rarely one single cause of language decline and it is often not clear what makes a community stop speaking their language or to alter its communicative capacity. While sometimes it has been a clear result of the invasion and subjugation of Indigenous peoples, often much more subtle factors have led to people themselves devaluing their own languages and choosing to switch to another language for reasons associated with improved access to resources, prestige or power.

We invite papers that describe research into, or experience of, both causes and solutions to endangerment of Indigenous languages.

Call for papers

We invite submissions of abstracts related to the themes above. Abstracts should be in English, no longer than 500 words, and must include 3 to 5 keywords.

All abstracts should be submitted using the EasyChair website.

Accepted authors must submit their paper for the Proceedings in advance of the conference, by 30th October 2019.

At the conference, each accepted presentation will be assigned 30 minutes: we recommend allowing 5 to 10 minutes of this time for questions and discussion.


Now open at http://utrecht.elsnet.org/fel/register.html


Please see the table below with some accommodation options. All these options are within walking distance of the conference venue. Conference participants can book and pay for their hotels online through the websites or book and then pay during their stay. Participants with accepted abstracts will be contacted and provided with further information.

Note re special rates at St Paul’s Serviced Accommodation: please email frontoffice@stpauls.edu.au and mention code FEL19. St Paul’s will extend these rates from 13th to 17th December 2019.

Accommodation Rate/room/night AUD Twins Breakfast Distance from conference venue Link
The Womens College $75 (Single bedroom) $125 Not included 350 metres https://www.thewomenscollege.com.au/external-hiring-parent/accommodation/
St Paul’s College $210 (Superior Queen studio; Queen bed with separate lounge, cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $185 (Standard studio: Queen bed with cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $160 (Standard room: Queen bed with no cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $140 (Kings Single Attic room: new building, single bed with cooking facilities and ensuite bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
St Paul’s College $99 (Kings Single: original building, shared bathroom)   Not included 300 metres https://www.stpauls.edu.au/
Mercure Hotel $185   $20 Pre-booked or $30 on the day 1.1 km https://www.accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-2073-mercure-
Rydges Hotel $165   Not included 400 metres https://www.rydges.com/accommodation/sydney-nsw/camperdown/

Further information

For further information please contact the local organisers.

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