10. - 12. März 2020: Deutsch in Europa, Rosengarten, Mannheim


24. Oktober 2019 - 16.03.2020: 550 JAHRE NACH GUTENBERG: Aktuelle Positionen, IDS Mannheim


17. - 18. Februar 2020: Workshop "Komposita", IDS Mannheim


Mädchen Zukunftstag am 26. März 2020


01. - 03. April 2020: 22. Arbeitstagung zur Gesprächsforschung, Rahmenthema "Bedeutung in der Interaktion", IDS Mannheim


Mündliche Kompetenz von Teilnehmenden an Integrationskursen und Vorschläge für die Praxis


Contested Languages in the Old World 4, CLOW4

14.-15.5.2020, Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim



After the previous editions in Bangor (2013), Turin (2016) and Amsterdam (2018), we are proud to announce the 4th edition of the Contested Languages in the Old World (CLOW) conference series, to be held in Mannheim on May, 14-15, 2020. The conference is jointly organized by Astrid Adler (Leibniz-IDS Mannheim), Albrecht Plewnia (Leibniz-IDS Mannheim), Mauro Tosco (University of Torino) and Marco Tamburelli (Bangor University) and aims at bringing 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 is devoted to mobility and inclusion of contested languages in Europe. The working language of the conference is English.


Only a fraction of European languages listed in the 2010 “UNESCO Atlas of World’s Languages in Danger” enjoys some degree of recognition within the state(s) in which they are spoken. This leaves many European bilinguals whose linguistic rights are limited to one of their everyday codes – often not their preferred one.

The meeting will focus on contested languages, i.e. linguistic codes which are generally recognized as such by the international scientific community: e.g., they are reported as languages in Ethnologue and tend to have an unambiguous ISO 639 code, and also their status as separate languages is often not questioned by linguists, especially out of their home country. Still, they have not usually attained any reasonable degree of official recognition, or, where recognition has been granted, especially at the local level, it has not triggered any reasonable attempts at language development. In other words, official recognition is not a guarantee for the absence of contestedness.

In contested languages, speakers’ awareness varies, but it is generally low and restricted to active minorities. The result is that these European bilinguals do not perceive themselves as such, and therefore their language loyalty and intergenerational transmission is in danger. Generally, the visibility of these languages in the public sphere is negligible.


Call for Papers

Definition and examples

Contested languages are typically related to yet linguistically distinct from the official languages of the state in which they are spoken; they further have a substantial number of speakers of different age groups (although younger speakers tend to be less conversant and prefer the use of the state language), often 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.

Typical cases of contested languages are several regional languages of Italy (Lombard, Piedmontese, Sicilian, Venetian, but also Sardinian – which has been officially recognized as a minority language – and others), the Netherlands (e.g. Frisian, in certain contexts), Germany (e.g. Bavarian, Low German, Swabian), and Poland (e.g. Kashubian, Silesian), a few regional languages of Spain (e.g. Aragonese, Asturian, or, in certain contexts, even Catalan), and most regional languages of France. We welcome all cases of contested languages within the European continuum.

We also include languages traditionally present in the continent which are either a-territorial or lacking a well-defined territory, such as various languages of the Roma people, Yiddish or Sami. Creole languages without a high degree of Ausbau and spoken by a consistent community in a territory of Europe (such as Papiamento in the Netherlands) can be included. In many cases, also sign languages are often contested in the European context. Finally, a special case of contested language is Esperanto.

Aim of the conference

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


We welcome submission of abstracts for oral presentations (20 mins + 10 mins questions) and poster sessions on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • case studies of status, corpus and acquisition planning of any contested language in Europe;
  • empirical matters and research design concerning contested languages;
  • reflexions on standardisation concerning contested languages
  • comparison of the language policy and planning situations between two or more contested languages in Europe;
  • speakers’ attitudes towards specific contested languages in Europe, with a special attention to the theory and practice of “new speakers”;
  • the role of mobility in the usage of and attitudes towards contested languages in Europe;
  • government attitudes towards specific contested languages in Europe, with a special attention to distance between the overt policy and planning and the “hidden agendas”;
  • the impact of local legislation and/or local initiatives on the status and attitudes of contested languages in Europe, in their immediate visibility as well as the long-term goal, i.e. guaranteeing their intergenerational transmission;
  • economic analyses of actual and prospective language policy and planning of any contested language in Europe;
  • issues of Abstand and Ausbau relating to one or more contested language(s) of Europe;
  • and especially – due to the location of the conference – analyses of contested languages in the German speaking area (e.g. Low German, Bavarian, German Sign Language etc.).

Submission of abstracts

Abstracts should be around 500 words long. Please indicate whether you apply for a presentation or a poster. All abstracts will undergo anonymous review. For deadlines, see Important Dates.

Please submit your abstract to clow4 (at) ids-mannheim.de .

Important: At least one author of each accepted paper or poster must register for the conference.



  • Early bird: 50 EUR
  • Regular: 70 EUR
  • Early bird PhD students: 25 EUR
  • Regular PhD students: 25 EUR
  • Early bird MA and BA students: 25 EUR
  • Regular MA and BA students: 25 EUR

Important Dates

  • Early Bird Registration Opens: October 14, 2019
  • Abstract Submission Closes: deadline has been extended, new deadline: January 17, 2020
  • Acceptance Notification: February 21, 2020
  • Early Bird Registration Closes: March 20, 2020
  • Regular Registration Closes: April 30, 2020



Organising Committee

Chairs: Marco Tamburelli (University of Bangor), Mauro Tosco (University of Torino)

Local organisers: Astrid Adler, Albrecht Plewnia (Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim)

For all information concerning the conference, please write an email to: clow4 (at) ids-mannheim.de