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The Foundation for Endangered Languqages is holding its thirteenth annual conference this year in Tajikistan, in association with the Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan and The Institute of Humanities, Khorog.

Place: Institute of Humanities, Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan, Khorog Tajikistan

Dates: 24-26 September, 2009

Abstract deadline: March 1, 2009

The languages of the conference: English, Russian and Tajik. Abstract and papers will be accepted in any of these languages. Go to the conference website for further information. But I've put the conference themes below in full, because they make one think about history in a serious and interesting way.

Call for Abstracts:

Endangered languages are often the remnants of old nations and civilizations. Many of these languages have been widely used in vast territories for centuries before giving way to more powerful and influential languages over a period of time for various social, economic, literary, political, and natural reasons. It is often precisely in the endangered languages of minorities and indigenous peoples that scholars seek answers to the historical developments of nations, their values and ethics, agricultural activities, habitat, way of life, migration patterns, arts and crafts, religious traditions, archaeological findings, etc. Endangered languages can serve to legitimise the sovereignty of the dominant nations, or to reaffirm their identity and authority over the territory, often at the expense of other languages. In the process, the endangered languages themselves may be strengthened or weakened as the past of the nation becomes a bone of contention. History also has value in the life of a community and can foster and promote a sense of identity among its members, thus perhaps playing a crucial role in the preservation or revitalisation of the endangered languages.

The conference will discuss the complex interaction of Endangered Languages and History and how the study of history can encourage the preservation and promote the revitalisation of endangered languages. The following are some of the aspects of this interface which could be discussed at the conference, certainly not an exclusive list:

* The role of endangered languages in the writing of history. Endangered languages as a medium for history writing, a source of historical data, and a basis for the buttressing of the historiography of a nation, region, empire, etc.
* Methods and tools used to relate history to endangered languages, including the effects of imperialism and nationalism on their perceived status. The impact of conquest, political annexation, economic ascendency or cultural dominance on languages and their resulting endangerment; conversely, the contributions of endangered languages to the evolution of the language of empire.
* Use of endangered languages in the study of literary sources and archaeological findings. Oral history, myth and oral literature as instruments of decipherment of sources.
* The use of endangered languages in strengthening historic community identities, at any level from family to nation. Endangered languages as a symbol of homogeneity, an instrument of unity and a vehicle of identity.
* What history tells us about the causes and trends of language attrition, including the role of language contact as a result of trade, war, conquest and missionary religion.
* How historical studies can contribute to the revitalisation of endangered languages.
* A historical perspective on the developing study of language endangerment and endangered languages. Historiography and epistemology of language endangerment.

The Authors

About the Blog

The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.
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E-MELD The E-MELD School of Best Practices in Digital Language Documentation

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