11th Conference on Missionary Linguistics
“Continuidades y rupturas en la lingüística misionera del siglo XIX”
Lieu : Santa Rosa, Universidad Nacional de la Pampa (Argentina)
Date : 3-5 Mars 2020
General description of the Conference
The International Conference on Missionary Linguistics focuses on older texts (colonial, postcolonial, mainly from missionaries) with the following objectives: the history of linguistics, linguistic documentation, translation studies and sociocultural analysis. The aim of historical linguistics is to describe older stages of languages as well as (processes of) language change, while the history of linguistics studies early thinking on languages, linguistic typologies and structures. These studies are often interrelated with those of the cultural context in which colonial and postcolonial societies developed. Non-Western languages are our main focus.
The cognitive appropriation of foreign cultural givens and the transcultural processes such as transference and translation implicated in these processes (based on intercultural encounters and interactions between the European missionaries and the speakers of the various indigenous languages and cultures in the Americas, Asia or Africa can be considered activities of one party colonizing or only influencing the other party. Within this framework, the learning, recording and studying of the ‘local’ languages by the missionaries can be described as complex processes of perception of the language and culture (semantics and pragmatics) of the other party and of the one in confrontation with the other, processes at the interface between subjective and socially constructed knowledge.
In the field of the history of applied linguistics, the perspective of language study, documentation, and teaching was radically changing during the age of the great discoveries. In Europe, grammars and dictionaries of the vernacular language appeared, and in the Americas the colonization and evangelization of the indigenous tribes went hand in hand with linguistic studies, which often antedate the documentation of many European “national” languages. These pioneering works contain many innovative aspects on all levels: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics and even beyond (translation theory and practices, rhetoric, stylistics, cultural studies, anthropology), since the languages they encountered often did not share the same features the Westerners were familiar with.
This 11th Conference proposes as central, but not exclusive, topic the situation of Missionary Linguistics during the 19th century. In a context in which new colonial expansionist powers (and new missionary enterprises) emerge, the number of “exotic” languages to understand, describe and document increases substantially. This period, marked by linguistic diversity in space and time – languages that come from Africa, Australia and northern and southern America, as well as the romantic interest for dialects as a heritage of the past – favours reflections about the relationship between language, thought and culture. The knowledge of different languages also contributes to the development of comparative linguistics, inspired in turn by advances in the natural sciences.
Some possible lines of research:
- Missionary linguistics in the 19th century: inheritances and innovations regarding methodology, objectives, recipients and pedagogical strategies;
- Linguistic works of the missionaries in the context of 19th-century colonialism and decolonization processes;
- Reception and use of the missionary linguistic documentation for academic purposes;
- Contributions of missionary linguistics for the development of modern linguistic theory;
- Technical advances in the (re)edition of missionary sources.
As in the previous Conferences, contributions outside the proposed topics are equally welcome, as long as they conform with the time limit of ca. 1920.
November 1st, 2019: submission of abstracts.(max 500 words).
December 1st, 2019: notification of acceptance.
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