CUSO workshop on “Methodological approaches to synchronic and diachronic heritage language data”


Place: Université de Lausanne (UNIL-Chamberonne), Anthropole, room 5033

Time: 16-17 February 2018 (start on 16 February at 9am, finish on 17 February after lunch)

Organisers: Anita Auer (UNIL), Adina Staicov (UZH), Jennifer Thorburn (UNIL)


Migration often leads to speakers of a specific mother tongue finding themselves in a situation, i.e. in a different country, where another language is dominant. As a result of this situation, the mother tongue, referred to as ‘heritage language’ (see Aalberse & Muysken 2013 for a discussion of the ‘heritage language’ definition; Polinsky & Kagan 2007), is likely to be affected one way or another. Factors that play a role here can be multiple and interrelated, e.g. what generation of heritage speaker are we dealing with, what were the reasons for leaving the home country, and in what environment does the heritage speaker find themselves in the new country, what motivations are there for language learning and/or language maintenance, what role does the family and larger community play (cf. for instance Valdés 2000; Carreira 2004; Polinsky / Kagan 2007; Potowski 2013). Since the so-called ‘Age of Mass Migration’ (c. 1850-1940) and ensuing globalization, many people have left their home countries in search of betterment and/or adventure, but have preserved their original identity in the form of their language, i.e. the heritage language. These languages can be traced in letters, diaries, and early recordings for the past and in speech recordings today.

This workshop will be concerned with different methodological approaches that will allow for the study of empirical heritage language data, both in the past and in the present. A particular focus will be on heritage languages in the North American context, i.e. where English or French are the dominant languages. In order to get a broad overview of approaches, leading scholars who work in different linguistic fields and therefore take a different perspective on heritage language data will be invited to present, apply, and critically discuss their respective approaches. The focus will be on

(a) the linguistic questionnaire and linguistic analyses: Prof. Naomi Nagy (University of Toronto, Canada),

(b) sociophonetic analyses of speech data: Dr. Adrian Leemann (Lancaster University, England), and

(c) written historical data, e.g. letters, diaries: Prof. Stephan Elspass (University of Salzburg, Austria) and Dr. Markus Schiegg (University of Erlangen, Germany).

This workshop is primarily aimed at postgraduate students working in the field of sociolinguistics, language variation and change (past and present) of any language. The workshop will be of interest to more junior (MA level) and senior scholars alike.

All participants will have the opportunity to present their research projects (fully-fledged paper or work-in-progress) and to discuss their work in a friendly and informal environment.


CUSO workshop programme (version 9 February 2018)


The workshop will be held on the Université de Lausanne campus (room details to be provided soon).

Registration and submission of abstracts is possible until 11 February 2018!

CUSO members, please register via CUSO (the Swiss doctoral programme in English language and literature): https://english.cuso.ch/index.php?id=897&L=0&tx_displaycontroller[showUid]=4164

Non-CUSO members, please register by sending an e-mail to anita.auer@unil.ch.


Practical matters

How to get to Lausanne

Lausanne can easily be reached by car (www.viamichelin.com), by rail (www.sbb.ch) and by plane (Geneva airport is closest).

The best way to travel from Geneva Airport to Lausanne is by train. Tickets can be purchased from the ticket office or vending machines at Geneva station. There is a direct train from Geneva airport to Lausanne Gare, which runs c. 4 times an hour. The train journey lasts about 60 minutes and costs around CHF 27.- (one-way journey, second class).



How to get around Lausanne

Both buses and metro lines operate within the city of Lausanne. To use them, you will need to purchase a ticket at a vending machine. If you are staying at a hotel, you will receive a free Lausanne transport card that allows for free travel in the city of Lausanne (zones 11, 12, 15, 16, 18, 19 – 2nd class).


Hotel Accommodation

You can find the best deals via online booking sites like booking.com, ebookers.com and hotels.com. Moreover, we can recommend the following hotels: Lausanne Guesthouse (YTA), Hôtel du Marché (*), Hôtel Ibis (**), Hôtel Regina (***), Hôtel Aulac (***), Hôtel City (***), Hôtel Bellerive (***), and Hôtel Alpha-Palmiers (****).