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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages

The Fourth Cambridge Conference on Language Endangerment

Phaistos Disk


Language endangerment: orthography development for language maintenance and revitalisation

4th July 2014



Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT



Mari Jones (Department of French/ Peterhouse, University of Cambridge)

Damien Mooney (Faculty of Linguistics/Balliol College, University of Oxford)


Call for Papers

Developing an orthography is often seen as a key component of language revitalization. The ability to encode an endangered variety and to set it down as a permanent record can enhance its status and prestige. In speech communities that are fragmented dialectally or geographically, a common writing system may help create a sense of unified identity. In other cases, it may help keep a language alive by facilitating teaching and learning. Despite these clear advantages, when a language is endangered, creating an orthography can also bring challenges and our conferences invites papers that debate these critical questions. Whose task should this be: that of the linguist or the speech community? Should an orthography be maximally distanciated from that of the language of wider communication for ideological reasons, or should its main principles coincide for reasons of learnability? Should alphabets be preferred to logographic systems? Which local variety should be selected as the basis of a common script? Is a polynomic script preferable to a standardized orthography? Can developing an orthography actually create problems for existing native speakers?


Abstracts: (200 words maximum) to be submitted via email to the organisers by March 1st 2014


Paper format: 20 minutes + 10 minutes for questions



Please click here to register your place online. The standard fee is £30 with a reduced fee of £20 for students (proof of student status will need to be presented). This includes lunches and refreshments at the conference, and a drinks reception at the Master's Lodge, Peterhouse.


Please note that all bookings and payment have to be made via this website. We regret that there is no provision for delegates to pay on the day. 


Bookings that are not accompanied by payment will not be registered on the system.



The conference programme may be downloaded here.



Abstracts for the papers to be given at the conference may be downloaded here.



The organisers are unable to arrange or help book accommodation. However, the following websites may be useful

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage



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