Programme timetable, overview

The book of abstracts is available here.

All times are in GMT+3

Monday August 16, 2021. New data from rural SSML

11:00-11:15 Opening

11:15-12:45 Keynote: Ruth Singer Discussant: Pierpaolo Di Carlo

12:45-13:15 Break

13:15-15:15 Session 1 (Australiasia-Pacific & Eurasia)

15:15-17:15 Break

17:15-19:15 Session 2 (Africa, the Americas & Models)

Tuesday August 17, 2021. Recentering sign languages as part of multilingualism

11:00-13:00 Session 1 (Large-scale–small-scale continuum & Children)

13:00-13:30 Break

13:30-15:00 Keynote: Annelies Kusters Discussant: Nick Palfreyman

15:00-17:15 Break

17:15-19:15 Session 2 (Language ideologies and Attrition)

Wednesday August 18, 2021. Minoritized multilingualism in urban and national contexts

11:00-13:00 Session 1 (Urban Contexts)

13:00-13:30 Break

13:30-15:30 Session 2 (Policy & Documentation)

15:30-17:15 Break

17:15-18:45 Keynote: Ibrahima Cissé Discussant: Mi­chael Rießler

18:45-19:15 Closing

Sessions timetable

All times are in GMT+3

Monday August 16. New data from rural SSML

Monday August 16. 11:15-12:45. Keynote: Ruth Singer. Small-scale multilingualism: the view from Warruwi. Discussant: Pierpaolo Di Carlo

Monday August 16. 13:15-15:15. Session 1 (Australiasia-Pacific & Eurasia)


  • Felicity Meakins and Rob Pensalfini: Holding the mirror up to converted languages: Two grammars, one lexicon
  • Jill Vaughan and Abigail Carter: Teams, territory and talk: reflexes of small-scale multilingualism in the Maningrida Football League
  • Kristina Gallego: A review of language dominance: Insights from the multilingual experience of Babuyan Claro, Philippines


  • Idaliya Fedotova: Shared semantic patterns and multilingualism in Western Siberia: a diachronic approach
  • Maria Morozova: Multilingualism, marriages and language acquisition patterns in the village of Karakurt, Ukraine
  • Nina Dobrushina: One woman between two languages: mutual intelligibility in mixed marriages across Daghestan
  • Ekaterina Gruzdeva and Maria Pupynina: Kolyma and Amur: Riverine multilingual areas in the Northern Pacific

Monday August 16. 17:15-19:15. Session 2 (Africa, the Americas, & Models)


  • Maria Khachaturyan and Maria Konoshenko : Translation as accommodation in a multilingual setting
  • Samantha Goodchild: Languag-e/-ing is mono-/multi-lingual: overlapping scales and chronotopes in a village setting in the Casamance, Senegal
  • Angiachi Esene Agwara and Pierpaolo Di Carlo: Language use, individualistic gain, and social distancing in the market. Multilingual behaviors during market transactions in Lower Fungom (Cameroon)

The Americas

  • Kristine Stenzel and Nicholas Williams: From "being" multilingual to "doing" multilingualism in the Vaupés


  • Emmanuel Ngue Um and Alexandra Binong: Interfacing Low-Scale Multilingualism
  • Nelson T. Tschonghongei, Pierpaolo Di Carlo and Jeff Good: Sociolinguistic Influence in Speech Heterogeneity
  • Jeff Good, Clayton Hamre and Pierpaolo Di Carlo: Lexical and spatial networks in a rural multilingual setting

Tuesday August 17. Recentering sign languages as part of multilingualism

Tuesday August 17. 11:00-13:00. Session 1 (Large-scale–small-scale continuum & Children)

Intersections between large-scale and small-scale

  • Christian Rathmann and Ronice Quadros: The impact of globalization in International Sign Language uses
  • Emmanuella Martinod: The case of Soure Sign Languages: a Multilingual Community Between Homesigns and Micro-Community Sign Language

Children’s multilingual practices and linguistic environment

  • Laura Kanto: Features in linguistic environment of children acquiring Finnish Sign Language
  • Ritva Takkinen: A shared signing community in a family of several deaf and hearing children

Tuesday August 17. 13:30-15:00. Keynote: Annelies Kusters. Small-scale sign multilingualism. Discussant: Nick Palfreyman

Tuesday August 17. 17:15-19:15. Session 2 (Attrition & Language ideologies)


  • Frances Quiñones: Puerto Rican Sign Language: The Decline of Identity and Culture
  • Robert Adam and Beverly Buchanan: Minority sign language communities in attrition – Where do minority sign languages come from and why do they go into decline?

Language ideologies

  • Hassan Ahmed Ali, Huda F. Ali, Mohamed Sulieman and Ashraf Abdelhay: Social representations of sign language in Sudan: A pilot study
  • Riitta Kelly: More than meets the eye - multilingual Finnish Sign language signers’ learner beliefs and views on languages

Wednesday August 18. Minoritized multilingualism in urban and national contexts

Wednesday August 18. 11:00-13:00. Session 1 (Urban contexts)

  • Eleanor Ridge: Supporting maintenance of small-scale multilingualism for young members of Vatlongos-speaking communities
  • Giustina Selvelli: The legacy of Ottoman small-scale multilingualism among members of the Armenian minority of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  • John Mansfield: Aboriginal linguistic exchange in an Australian city

Wednesday August 18. 13:30-15:30. Session 2 (Policy & Documentation)


  • Lijing Peng: Language Ideologies and multilingualism in West Hunan Hmong Prefecture, China
  • Sangsok Son: Multilingual literacy for multilingual students: Using scripts of national language, Thai for writing home languages of minoritized students in Chiangmai, Thailand


  • Rachel A. Ojong Diba, Pierpaolo Di Carlo and Jeff Good: How fragile is small-scale multilingualism? A multidimensional assessment of the endangerment of small-scale multilingualism in Cameroon

Wednesday August 18. 17:15-18:45. Keynote: Ibrahima Cissé. Brushing the Colorful Malian Carpet: Multilingualism to Unite and Rebuild a Nation at War. Discussant: Mi­chael Rießler

Titles and abstracts of the keynote talks

Monday August 16. 11:15-12:45. Keynote: Ruth Singer.

Small-scale multilingualism: the view from Warruwi. Discussant: Pierpaolo Di Carlo

In this talk, I will present the findings of collaborative research on multilingualism with Warruwi Community, an Indigenous Australian community. The research began a decade ago with linguistic biography interviews that included the language portrait task and then expanded to include the analysis of multilingual conversations and other tasks. The research has shown that receptive multilingualism facilitates the continued use of very small languages at Warruwi. In conversations in the receptive multilingual mode, each person sticks to their preferred language, while understanding the others' language. I will discuss some recent work on measuring receptive competence (passive competence), and also consider the role of Indigenous sign at Warruwi. The field of small-scale multilingualism has created a productive space for a linguists to discuss the language ecologies which support small languages. I will reflect on the strengths of our field and how we might build on these to form stronger connections with other researchers of multilingualism.

Tuesday August 17. 13:30-15:00. Keynote: Annelies Kusters.

Small-scale sign multilingualism. Discussant: Nick Palfreyman

Multilingual sign ecologies are environments where two or more sign languages are used in the same spaces, often in addition to one or more spoken and/or written languages. Here I describe three multilingual sign ecologies that seem to fit the framework of small-scale multilingualism.

The first ecology is Adamorobe village in Ghana, where deaf signers live their lives using both Adamorobe Sign Language and Ghanaian Sign Language during their everyday interactions with others in the village and surrounds.

The second and third ecologies are comparably more ephemeral communities of practice that arise where deaf signers of multiple sign languages gather temporarily for the purpose of work and study: (1) Castberggaard campus in Denmark, where young deaf people from different countries are supported to collaboratively learn and develop their International Sign during the 9-month “Frontrunners” course; and (2) DOOR International campus in Kenya, where teams of practitioners from different countries (mostly from Africa) work and live to create sign language translations. In both campus ecologies, multiple sign languages and written languages are used by all.

I suggest there are main themes of small-scale sign multilingualism uniting these ecologies. Firstly, language separation. The signers in all three ecologies have developed local discourses about their respective language socialisation, especially regarding the extent to which signers should engage in language separation. Secondly, language mixing. Individuals in all three ecologies often mix different kinds of signing and talk explicitly about how these languages and mixed forms are named or labelled. These two themes point to a third theme: languageness. All three ecologies contain local ideologies about the relative “languageness” of non-prestigious sign languages, and of these mixed forms, and of signing that contains intensified uses of gestures.

I show how these ideologies about language separation, mixing and languageness are both impacted by and challenge some long-standing foundational underpinnings of research on sign languages.

Wednesday August 18. 17:15-18:45. Keynote: Ibrahima Cissé.

Brushing the Colorful Malian Carpet: Multilingualism to Unite and Rebuild a Nation at War. Discussant: Mi­chael Rießler

Mali is a country built on the foundations of great empires (Ghana, Mali and Songhay) and kingdoms (Ségou, Macina etc.). The social, cultural and linguistic diversity visible in the country (several dozen ethnic groups and sixty languages) is as old as these political entities2.

In the oral and written traditions of the empires and kingdoms of West Africa, there is no evidence that such diversity was seen as an obstacle in the consolidation of social cohesion or governance. On the contrary, sources such as the Kurugan Fuga34 indicate a particular emphasis by political leaders and populations on cohabitation and interdependence in social, cultural and linguistic diversity.

Local political leaders’ perception of linguistic diversity seems to take a completely different turn from the colonial period (19th century) when France colonized this region. At this point, France, which built its system of belonging to a single nation through the imposition of one language in education and in governance, went on to impose its model on communities that had lived since (at least) the Middle Ages in political groups that were close to federated states with an acceptance of linguistic diversity.

The question of the diversity of languages therefore becomes (from the 19th century) a problem to be solved rather than a reality with which the colonies and later the new independent states in Africa must contend in the management of power.

In this keynote speech, I will explore children’s language socialization in multilingual environments (within families and in school spaces) and that of the relationship between languages and powers.

I will report preliminary results of a study of language socialization strategies involving 12 children aged 5 months to 3 years who grow up in central Mali. The results of the study highlight the central place of travel and inter-ethnic mixing in the development of a multilingual language repertoire for rural and urban populations, for both adults (parents) and children in Mali. As for the observations on language socialization within schools, they are based on a study of the language practices and usage of 19 children aged 8 to 13 in a school in Bamako (capital of Mali). The results obtained confirm that there is a gap between the expectations of the school authorities and the language practices of members of the school community, in particular the students. One of the consequences of this mismatch is the rapid mastery of languages considered to be excluded / absent from the school space (here, Bambara) and the lack of mastery of the language of instruction by students (in this case, French).

The results of these two case studies make it possible to discuss and compare two language socialization strategies (family vs. school) and question the relevance of the choice of the language of instruction (French or one of the 13 national languages in Mali) in line with macro-sociolinguistic realities.

The relationship between languages and powers will be addressed through the lens of the crisis that took place in Mali from May to August 2020. This crisis is characterized by a popular protest led by an imam and members of the political opposition to the democratically elected regime of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (former president of Mali). Opposition members used all the languages in their repertoires to mobilize populations against the ruling power, while state officials seem to favor French despite the fact that 85% of the Malian population does not understand this language. The language practices of members of the protest movement and state representatives will be analyzed and presented.

The keynote speech will close with proposals for practical solutions to the issues of language in education and in governance, adapted to the sociolinguistic realities of Mali. These proposals will be linked to the challenges and opportunities that arise in this period of debate on rebuilding Mali.