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After the previous editions in Bangor (2013) and Turin (2016), the 3rd edition of the Contested Languages in the Old World (CLOW) conference series took place in Amsterdam on May, 3-4, 2018. The conference, jointly organized by Federico Gobbo (University of Amsterdam)Mauro Tosco (University of Torino) and Marco Tamburelli (Bangor University), brought together linguists, political scientists, legal experts, writers, activists and other scholars working on the current status and future prospects of “contested languages”, starting from the reflections by Nic Craith (2006). A special parallel panel was devoted to mobility and inclusion of contested languages in Europe. The conference programme is available here:

Towards the rediscovery of Italy's hidden multilingualism

A themed Panel discussion organised by the Research Group was featured as part of the First International Conference on Revitalization of Indigenous and Minoritized Languages held in Barlcelona (19-20 April 2017).

The panel focused on the minority (some of them highly endangered) languages of Italy, with a special attention to those which are not recognized (nor supported) by the Italian Government. Key points included:

the official language policy of Italy, language discrimination, language ideology and the ambiguous role of academic institutions vis-à-vis languages and dialects, the effects (and results) of official support for recognized minority languages, as well as grassroots approaches to the standardization and development of unrecognized languages and new developments on the net.


1. Mauro Tosco (University of Turin):
   The roof (language) as an enemy: the Ausbauization of Italy’s minority languages

2. Emanuele Miola (University of Milan-Bicocca and University of Turin):
   The misuse of the “languagedialect” opposition in Italy and its consequences in current linguistic research

3. Riccardo Regis (University of Turin):
   On geographical variation in Italoromance

4. Claudia Soria (CNR, Pisa):
   Language policies and speakers' attitudes: evaluating the impact of official recognition on some of Italy's regional languages

5. Lissander Brasca (Bangor University) and Paolo Coluzzi (University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur):
   Writing systems for Italian regional languages

6. Federico Gobbo (University of Amsterdam):
   Is Esperanto a contested language? Towards a multifaceted definition of contestedness through the case-study of Esperanto in Italy

7. Marco Tamburelli (Bangor University):
   The persistence of linguistic discrimination in Italy: causes, effects, and potential solutions


2nd International Conference on Contested Languages in the Old World (CLOW 2016)

Contested Languages in the Old World (CLOW) - 5-6th May 2016

After the success of CLOW 2013, we are happy to announce CLOW 2016, to be held in Turin on 5th-6th of May 2016. The conference is jointly organised by Mauro Tosco (University of Turin) and Marco Tamburelli (Bangor University) and aims to bring together linguists, political scientists, legal experts, writers, activists and other scholars working on the current status and future prospects of contested languages.

Call for papers available from the CLOW 2016 website.



Rationale & Context

Only a fraction of European languages listed in the 2010 “UNESCO Atlas of World’s Languages in Danger” enjoy some recognition within the state(s) in which they are spoken. There thus remain many European bilinguals who have linguistic rights only in one of their two mother tongues, often not their preferred one.

The meeting will focus on languages which, although generally recognized as such by the international scientific community (e.g., they are duly reported in Ethnologue, have an unambiguous ISO 639 code, and their status as Abstand languages is often not questioned by linguists, especially out of their home country), have not attained any reasonable degree of official recognition. Sometimes, also academic interest and recognition at home are at stake.

Reference is made here to many of the regional languages of Italy (e.g. Lombard, Piedmontese, Sicilian, Venetian, and others), Germany (e.g. Bavarian, Low Saxon, Swabian), and Poland (e.g. Kashubian, Silesian), some of the regional languages of Spain (e.g. Aragonese, Asturian), and most regional languages of France, as well as to all other cases of “contested languages” within European continua.

All these varieties have a relatively strong degree of Abstand separating them from the official languages of the State in which they are spoken, they also have a substantial number of speakers of different age groups (though younger speakers tend to be less conversant and prefer the use of the state language), a distinct literary written tradition, and display some level of standardization and corpus planning. Still, these languages are often referred to as “dialects”, “patois” etc. in everyday (and sometimes in academic) discourse.
The visibility of these languages in the public sphere is negligible and official recognition is either totally lacking or restricted to the local level; public use of these languages is likewise totally absent or nearly so. Speakers’ awareness varies, but is generally low and restricted to active minorities.

The conference aims at bringing together linguists, political scientists, writers, activists and other scholars working on the current status and future prospects of such ‘contested’ languages, as well as on issues of corpus and status planning and how these impact on the speaker communities themselves and on the academic world.


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