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Different perspectives on language maintenance and shift: theoretical and methodological approaches


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the workshop “Theoretical and Methodological Approaches to Language Maintenance and Shift” on 30 April 2021 will be online.

Registration by 30th of April

The topic of language maintenance and shift has been widely discussed within linguistics and approached from different theoretical perspectives, using different methods, and studying various language combinations. The heterogeneity of this topic of interest can therefore be seen as a major challenge when looking for possibly comparable frameworks (cf. Clyne (1991), Fishman (1964) or Giles et al (1977)). In general, there is an acceptance of the fact that each and every situation demands an accordingly elaborated and individually designed methodology. For instance, we can approach the topic of language maintenance and shift from an ideological or more societal point of view, we can address it at a structural linguistic level or a combination of both.

It is the aim of the current workshop to revisit the topic of language maintenance and shift by considering different theoretical and methodological approaches and discussing possible ways of combining different approaches. First, three experts in the field, notably Suzanne Aalberse (University of Amsterdam), José de Valle (City University of New York) and Josh Brown (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire), will give short presentations on their current research in the field. Thereafter, the speakers and the audience are invited to discuss how to tackle the ever-growing field of language contact and maintenance, particularly in the light of language contact becoming the “new normal” in most societies.

Keynote Speakers:

Suzanne Aalberse (University of Amsterdam)

José del Valle (City University of New York)

Joshua Brown (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)



14.00 Welcome, Introduction


Natasha Tolimir-Hölzl and Anita Auer




Suzanne Aalberse (University of  Amsterdam)

Bilingual optimization strategies: the cline from maintenance to shift




José del Valle (City University of New York)

Mapping linguistic repertoires onto language regimes (and viceversa): towards a critical understanding of maintenance




Josh Brown (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire)

Verticalization processes in American heritage language communities




Brief coffee break




Final Discussion

From 16.00-17.00       Socialising and networking on wonder.me


Deadline for registration is 30th April 2021

No workshop fee

Please register here

Registration is required for any participant

After registration you will receive an E-Mail containing the Zoom-Link to the workshop

For queries please contact:

Dr. Natasha Tolimir-Hölzl

Department for Slavonic Studies

University of Regensburg


Suzanne Aalberse (PhD, University of Amsterdam)

I am assistant professor of Dutch Linguistics at the university of Amsterdam, involved in the research group VARCAS (Linguistic Variation constrained by Cognition, Acquisition and
Social context at the Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC). My research focuses on the effects of migration on language development. I am interested in what parts of language resist change, and what roles social circumstances and cognitive preferences play in the likelihood and direction of language variation and change. I have compared two generations of speakers of Chinese languages (parent and child data) in the Netherlands to their counterparts in China. Presently I am involved in project MIND (multilingualism in day care), funded by the ministry of social affairs focusing on the question whether, and if so, how, the development of Dutch is affected by the presence of English-speaking teachers in day care centers. 

Having begun my linguistic career as a historical linguist, I have since come to work on language acquisition: the historical field of contact linguistics shares with heritage language research and early bilingualism research its aim to understand effects of language contact. However there is a mismatch in results reported in these three fields. Much of what I have written focuses on ways of connecting these different angles in a meaningful way. Key in this kind of comparison is taking social circumstances into account when investigating the direction and (non)occurrence of change. My book Heritage Languages: A Contact Perspective, co-authored with Pieter Muysken and Ad Backus, and the special issue Heritage language studies and early child bilingualism research: Understanding the connection in International Journal of Bilingualism, co-edited with Aafke Hulk, both resulted from the aim to connect different subfields of contact linguistics.

José del Valle is Professor of Latin American, Iberian and Latino Cultutes, and Professor of Linguistics at The Graduate Center, CUNY. His research and teaching are theoretically anchored in sociolinguistics and glottopolitical studies (political theorizations of language). He has mainly focused on the institutionalization of Spanish in the 19th- and 20th-centuries and, through this topic, on the relationship between language standardization, normativity and power. In 2010, he received the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for his research accomplishments.

Josh Brown (PhD, The Pennsylvania State University) is associate professor of German and linguistics at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. He is primarily interested in heritage languages, language maintenance and shift, and historical sociolinguistics. His work has appeared in the Journal of Language Contact, Critical Multilingualism Studies, American Speech, among others. His most recent publications include the book Pennsylvania Germans: An Interpretive Encyclopedia (Johns Hopkins) and a special issue of the Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics on the historical sociolinguistics of heritage languages.

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