Workshop: Heritage languages and bilingualism: Collaboration and synthesis (June 14–15, 2021)

Organisers:  Yvonne W. H. van Baal (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) and David A. Natvig (University of Oslo)

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Heritage languages and linguistics: Collaboration and synthesis

Call for Papers

Research on heritage languages not only advances our theoretical models, but provides insights into language acquisition, variation, and maintenance and change during the lifespan. Heritage languages and their speakers especially provide opportunities for research on the influence of varied and differential input and shifts in language use over time on acquiring and maintaining linguistic representations in bilingual speakers. In order to build collaboration and synthesize findings and analyses within the field, we invite heritage language scholars to submit an abstract to the workshop, ‘Heritage Languages and Linguistics: Collaboration and synthesis’, at the 12th International Conference of Nordic and General Linguistics. The conference will be held at the University of Oslo from June 15– 17, 2020. Possible topics of workshop talks include, but are not restricted to:

 Phonological, syntactic, semantic, and/or morphological properties of heritage languages

 Variation and change within heritage languages and heritage speaker communities

 Acquisition and maintenance of heritage languages across the lifespan

We welcome work in any linguistic subfield or theoretical school that speaks to child or adult bilingualism, as well as on any heritage language in contact with any majority language. We strongly welcome work on minoritized languages and other traditionally underrepresented languages in the field. Presentations will be 20 minutes with 10 minutes for questions. Abstracts should be no longer than a single A4 page, including examples and references. Formatting should be single-spaced, with 1 inch / 2.54 cm margins, and written in a standard 12-point font. Abstracts should be anonymous.


Heritage languages, i.e. those that are naturalistically acquired, but not as the dominant societal language,1 and their speakers provide opportunities for advancing our understanding of formal linguistic structures and the relationship between social and community structures and language use, variation, and change. Over the last two decades, there has been a growth of research in this field.2 This work contributes empirical evidence regarding language acquisition and maintenance throughout the lifespan, specifically addressing roles of varied and differential input on acquiring linguistic representations and how shifts in language use over time impact speakers’ access for purposes of comprehension and production.3 Furthermore, the socio-political contexts in which heritage languages are spoken offer fertile ground for examining a wide array of social factors that affect language maintenance and shift, 4 as well as language changes brought on by community-wide bilingualism.5

We aim for a full day workshop, including opening remarks and a concluding discussion led by the organizers, with the aim to enhance our understanding of heritage language bilingualism and related fields by facilitating discussion among scholars who approach the topic from a variety of theoretical perspectives and empirical domains. Specifically, we aim to bring together researchers who connect empirical data with linguistic theory (in any theoretical school) and/or present data that informs our understanding of heritage languages and linguistics.

Possible topics of workshop talks include, but are not restricted to, the linguistic properties of heritage languages; variation and change within heritage languages and heritage speaker communities; the acquisition and maintenance of heritage languages across the lifespan; community-wide and individual language contact and language shift.

The goal of the workshop is to contribute to a robust understanding of heritage languages and linguistics through a synthesis of different perspectives. We aim for fruitful discussions and collaboration between the different subfields of heritage linguistics, such that the content of the workshop will be more than the sum of its parts.

Accordingly, the target audience for this workshop is anyone working on one of the topics outlined above, and especially researchers developing creative approaches that synthesize the wide range of empirical phenomena and/or theoretical approaches to heritage languages.

For more information, please contact:
Yvonne van Baal: <>
David Albert Natvig <>

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1. Rothman, Jason. 2009. Understanding the nature and outcomes of early bilingualism: Romance languages as heritage languages. International Journal of Bilingualism 13(2): 155–163, p. 156.

2. Montrul, Silvina. 2016. The Acquisition of Heritage Languages. Cambridge University Press; Polinsky, Maria. 2018. Heritage Languages and Their Speakers. Cambridge University Press.

3. Putnam, Michael T., Silvia Perez-Cortes & Liliana Sánchez. 2019. Language attrition and the feature reassembly hypotheses. In Monika S. Schmid & Barbara Köpke (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Language Attrition, 18–24. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

4. Wilkerson, Miranda E. & Joseph Salmons. 2008. “Good old immigrants of yesteryear” who didn’t learn English: Germans in Wisconsin. American Speech 83(3): 259–283.

5. Haugen, Einar. 1953. The Norwegian Language in America. 2 vols. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

By Yvonne W. H. van Baal (Dept. of Language and Literature, Norwegian University of Science and Technology), David A. Natvig (MultiLing, Dept. of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo)
Published Nov. 29, 2019 10:00 PM - Last modified Aug. 25, 2022 12:31 PM