Third Conference on the Endangered Languages of East Asia (CELEA3)

May 6, 2024 - May 8, 2024

The Department of Asian and North African Studies at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice is pleased to announce the third meeting of the Conference on the Endangered Languages of East Asia (CELEA).
The conference focuses primarily on the endangered, indigenous, and minority languages of Japan, China, Korea, the Russian Far East, Mongolia, and Taiwan so priority will be given to contributions that discuss languages spoken in these countries. However, contributions dealing with languages spoken elsewhere in Asia will also be more than welcomed. Please note that contributions addressing any aspect of the official or main languages spoken in these territories (e.g. Japanese, Chinese, Korean, etc.), as well as of the dialects and varieties of those languages, fall out of the scope of the conference and will not be considered.

As the theme of this third meeting of CELEA we have chosen boundaries. The concept of “boundary” with regards to language may have different interpretations, which vary in applicability, pertinence, and even desirability depending on what aspect of language one discusses. Of course, setting boundaries is a necessary step in the process of understanding how languages work – that is, the process by which we define what is what or, to say it differently, how and why something is different from something else.
Indeed clearly defining language features and behaviors is a desirable thing, since by doing so we should provide a common ground to make our analysis of single languages intelligible to others and, more generally, to enhance cross-linguistic comparison. Linguistic typology has long resorted to categories as a way to ensure this common ground. However, languages often display variations that escape the parameters previously set to define a certain category – this is often true specifically for those indigenous and minority languages that have started to be investigated only recently. This ultimately makes us question what a language category should be in order to an effective tool for language comparison (Haspelmath 2010, Bickel 2010). Connected to this matter are the obstacles posed by how we employ even commonly known linguistic terminology in our definitions, which too often becomes a harbinger of misunderstandings due to the lack of general consensus on its interpretation (Croft 2022). Also related is the issue of when a certain feature becomes something else (specifically in light of the essentially gradient nature of grammaticalization, Heine 2003, Hopper & Traugott 2003) or when a certain language develops into a different one, which comes together with the challenge of dividing a language family’s history into periods.
As a tool for communication, language also occupies a place within society. Especially for indigenous and minority languages, how this space has been and is delimited, denied, (re-)gained, and shaped intertwines tightly, among other factors, with language ideologies, language identity, and wellbeing (Schieffelin et al. 1998, Taff et al. 2018, among others), with sometimes strikingly different outcomes that directly depend on the multifaceted past of East Asian countries.
With this conference we will “cut along the dotted lines” of East Asian endangered languages to see how the minority and/or indigenous languages of the area contribute to language-specific descriptions as well as to theoretical linguistics. We specifically encourage contributions that explore issues related to categorial status, the use of terminology in language description, the space(s) of language within society, language periodization, and language-specific features that have to do with either factual or perceived distance and boundaries (e.g. definiteness, givenness, possession, spatial/discourse deixis, egophoricity, pragmatic uses of language registers, …).

Submission instructions:

Abstracts are invited for 20-minute oral presentations (plus 10-minute discussion) and for poster presentations on any area of linguistics including (but not limited to) phonetics, phonology, morphosyntax, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and historical linguistics. All abstracts submitted for oral presentations and poster presentations must comply with the overall topic of the conference, regardless of the area of linguistics the author decides to focus on.

Abstracts should be anonymous – they should not include the name(s) of the author(s) nor their affiliation. Please note that name(s) and/or affiliation should not appear in the name of the file you submit either.

Only one abstract per person (or one single-authored abstract plus one additional co-authored abstract) is allowed.

Please specify, right under the title, whether you are submitting your abstract for “oral presentation” or for “poster presentation”.

All abstracts should be submitted in English, which will also be the language of the conference. Abstracts should not exceed 500 words, excluding references but including examples, tables, and graphs. Abstracts exceeding the word count or containing the author’s name and/or affiliation will not be considered for paper or poster presentation at the conference.

Submissions open: Oct. 1, 2023 - Dec. 31, 2023

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