Centre for Applied Linguistics & Translation Studies University of Hyderabad – 500046, india

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Centre for Applied Linguistics & Translation Studies

University of Hyderabad

Hyderabad – 500046, INDIA
International Seminar on Endangered and Indigenous languages

1st to 3rd March, 2008
Centre for Applied Linguistics and Translation Studies (CALTS) is going to hold International Seminar on Endangered and Indigenous Languages from 1st to 3rd March 2008. We are requesting you to participate in this seminar and give this announcement wide publicity among your students and colleagues. Though the problem of language endangerment in the present globalized world is well known, we have given an outline of this seminar for your ready reference below.

According to Crystal (2000), of the 6000 to 7000 languages in the world, over the next century two languages are predicted to die each month. Starting with the UNESCO adopting the 'Endangered Languages Project' at a conference in 1993, various funds and projects have been instituted to look into this serious problem. As a linguistically pluralistic society, we in India have a greater responsibility of understanding linguistic diversity and factors that affect negatively or enhance a language’s chances of survival and prosperity. Various parameters have been used to define the term “endangered languages”. Endangered languages are thus understood to be those languages which are moribund, i.e. not being passed to the next generation any more (Krauss1992); those which are acquired by few or no children, and the youngest good speakers are young adults (Wurm 1998); those spoken by enough people to make survival a possibility, but only in favourable circumstances and with a growth in community support (Kincade 1991); those that have come to be less used in educational, political and other public situations; those which have suffered discourse attrition so much that they have ended up surviving in just one domain; and /or those showing rapid change by incorporating features from other contact languages. With indigenous languages too the issues are as manifold. Among the issues that affect these languages are the effects of globalization which work to homogenize and standardize, thereby vitally affecting linguistic and cultural diversity (McCarty 2003). Other issues closely related to these languages are maintenance and renewal through supporting these languages in education and government policies. This has to be done keeping in mind the global demand for the English language skills.

The present seminar aims to bring together scholars working in the fields of language documentation, typology, linguistics, language planning and language teaching, etc. to address various issues and concerns related to indigenous and/or endangered languages. Some of the questions that this seminar aims to address include:

  • the issue of cultural identity in an increasingly globalized culture,

  • the crumbling cultural heritage of many peoples,

  • the intellectual disaster for the world if we are left with only a few languages,

  • factors affecting language endangerment, like the rate of acquisition of a language by the children, attitude of the community to a language, level of impact of other languages as well as extraneous factors like political structures, electronic media; recording and assessing techniques; educational programmes,

  • bilingualism and multilingualism; cultural identity; and/or the issue of a serious loss of inherited knowledge through language death,

  • Why should we worry if a language dies? Is it not desirable for the world to be free from the chaos of so many languages and have only one globally accepted language? How have the studies of various endangered and indigenous languages contributed to our understanding of what human language is like?

  • What is it likely to be without a rightful mother tongue? How do factors like political structures, electronic media; recording and assessing techniques; educational programmes; bilingualism and multilingualism; and/or cultural identity become the causes of language death?

  • How can arguments which support the need for biological diversity also apply to language? In the language of ecology, the strongest ecosystems are those which are most diverse. According to Odum (1986), "…variety may be a necessity in the evolution of natural systems". If diversity is prerequisite for successful humanity, then is not the preservation of linguistic diversity essential?

  • In a globalized world, what kind of community-based native-language programmes can be developed to guarantee the use of native language as well as develop English language skills?

  • How can bilingualism/multilingualism through educational policy be promoted in such a way that native/indigenous languages will not be left out to die slowly (Reyhner and Tennant 1995)?

  • Can language revitalization be restricted to language documentation? What steps can be taken for these languages that in Fishman’s (1995) words suffer from “lack of sufficient inter-generational mother-tongue transmission”?

  • What is the impact of language policy on indigenous languages? Is policy-making sufficient to ensure the revitalization of languages suffering from non-transmission in the home domain? How can legislation help speakers of indigenous and endangered languages claim some public space (Romaine 2002) and what is its importance?

  • Technological innovations in the areas of language documentation,
    databases and dictionary software, educational and instructional software, etc.

  • Morpho-syntactic and typological characteristics of endangered and indigenous languages of India.


Crystal, David. 2000. Language death. Cambridge: CUP.

Fishman, Joshua. 1995. Maintaining Languages: What Works? What Doesn’t? Paper presented at the Second Stabilizing Indigenous Languages Symposium, Northern Arizona University.

Kincade, M Dale. 1991. The decline of native languages in Canada. In Robins and Uhlenbeck (eds.), 157-76.

Krauss, Michael. 1992. The world's languages in crisis. Language 68.4-10.

Matsumura, Kazuto, ed.. 1998. Studies in Endangered Languages (Papers from the International Symposium on Endangered Languages, Tokyo, November 18-20). Tokyo: Hituzi Shobo

McCarty, Teresa L. 2003. Revitalising indigenous languages in homogenising times. Comparative Education 39.2: 147-163.

Odum, Eugene P. 1986. Ecosystems. Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th edn. Macropaedia XVII, 979-83.

Reyhner, Jon, and Edward Tennant. 1995. Maintaining and renewing native languages. The Bilingual Research Journal 19.2: 279 - 304.

Robins, R.H. and E.M Uhlenbeck, eds. 1991. Endangered Languages. Oxford and New York: Berg.

Romaine, Suzanne 2002. The impact of language policy on endangered languages. International Journal on Multicultural Societies 4.2: 194-212

Wurm, Stephen A. 1998. Methods of language maintenance and revival, with selected cases of language endangerment in the world. In Kazuto Matsumura (ed.), 191–211.

Abstract submission:

Abstracts for a 30-minute talk (20-minute presentation + 10-minute discussion) must be at most one page long (minimum margins: 2.5 cm or 1 inch; size of characters: 12 points; spacing: single). An optional second page is acceptable only for data, figures and references. Please submit your abstract in both .pdf and .doc formats to sapworkshop@yahoo.com. The abstract should start with the title of paper followed by the author's name, email address, affiliation and the abstract. If the abstract includes additional fonts, please attach them with your mail.

Important dates:

Submission of abstract: 31st December, 2007

Notification of acceptance: 15th January, 2008

Submission of full paper: 15th February, 2008
Travel and accommodation:

We will provide accommodation in the University of Hyderabad guest houses and take care of local hospitality. We would appreciate if the participants get themselves deputed by their institutions. However, we will try to support those scholars who cannot get it.

For further queries, please contact:

Prof. Panchanan Mohanty

Centre for Applied Linguistics & Translation Studies

University of Hyderabad

Hyderabad-500046 (India)


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