First Weekend (June 29-30) :

Symposium B
Historical-Comparative Linguistics for Language Revitalization
Jorge Emilio Rosés Labrada (University of Alberta) & Justin Spence (UC Davis)
Where: Risling Room (3201 Hart Hall)
Time: June 29Saturday9:00am-4:00pm
June 30Sunday9:00am-3:00pm

Call for papers:
Call Deadline: 31-Jan-2019

Meeting Description:

The theme of this symposium is connections between historical-comparative linguistics and language revitalization – broadly speaking, how historical-comparative methods can be brought to bear to benefit language revitalization, and also how the study of languages undergoing revitalization can inform questions of general interest in the study of language change. Included as part of the 2019 LSA Linguistic Institute (hosted at UC Davis), the symposium will bring a group of scholars and practitioners whose language revitalization and reclamation work draws on historical-comparative methods.

Call for Papers: 

Recent scholarship has explored the mutually beneficial relationship between historical-comparative linguistics and language documentation. However, language revitalization has been largely absent from these discussions even though historical-comparative linguistics has figured prominently in the revitalization and reclamation of endangered languages and dormant languages that are known principally through archival documentation collected in the past. In this symposium, we propose to address this gap by bringing together a group of scholars and practitioners whose language revitalization and reclamation work draws on historical-comparative methods. We specifically propose to focus on six questions:

1. How can historical-comparative linguistics help to fill gaps, both lexical and grammatical, in the existing documentation of formerly dormant languages?

2. How can historical-comparative linguistics inform the evaluation of existing documentation to be mobilized for the creation of teaching materials?

3. How can the study of languages undergoing revitalization and reclamation expand the empirical scope of historical-comparative linguistics and shed new light on questions of general interest in the field?

4. How can the corpus of documentation relevant to revitalizing a given language be expanded by working with speakers of related languages, thus supporting the creation of richer learning materials?

5. What is the value of comparative philological work based on older documentation for language revitalization?

6. How can we more effectively train revitalization practitioners in historical-comparative linguistics?

By focusing on these and other ways in which historical-comparative linguistics can aid language revitalization and reclamation efforts, we hope to reach a wide audience of both linguists and communities currently working towards promoting their languages. This workshop will thus contribute to ongoing efforts aimed at promoting the maintenance of the world’s indigenous languages.

Invited Keynote Speakers: 

– Marianne Mithun (UC Santa Barbara)
– Pam Munro (UCLA)

The conference invites papers addressing questions related to connections between historical linguistics and language revitalization, including but not limited the ones outlined above. While the primary focus of the conference is on the comparative part of ”historical-comparative linguistics,” we also encourage abstracts from other areas of historical linguistics, including topics such as language and dialect contact and sociolinguistic dimensions of the diffusion of linguistic innovations, insofar as these may also pertain to language revitalization.

Abstract Submission: 

Anonymous 1-page abstracts (12-point Times New Roman, single-spaced, 1” margins) should be submitted in pdf format. References and examples may appear on a second page. Submit to

The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2019. Notification of acceptance will be made by approximately February 28, 2019.