Taal & Tongval 2020: Perspectives for research on language variation and change

27 November 2020, Ghent, Belgium 

Increasingly, ever larger data collections become available for research into language variation and change, both of existing and new data, structured as well as unstructured. At the same time, surprising combinatorial possibilities arise in the diversity of data collections. Next to the increasing digitization of existing data in research on language and speech, also new types of data emerge. Digital communication for instance gives rise to new forms of networks forming and influencing language, and in large amounts. Does this lead to new research questions and techniques, and does it afford new insights? Or can also the classic fundamental questions be answered in a more directed way using larger amounts of data? 

At the same time, new techniques are being developed to process and analyse (large amounts of) language data. Recent years have seen a rapprochement between computer science, computational linguistics, and historical variation linguistics. Computational methods, for instance, make large amounts of language data more easily accessible for further analysis, and facilitate the identification of patterns of variation and change in them. Besides methods imported from other scientific fields, this also concerns specific techniques for the analysis of language and speech, such as Natural Language Processing or acoustic analysis. New approaches in dialectometry with large and diverse data collections, and research on variation based on large language corpora and computer-mediated communication (CMC) have in recent years led to numerous new findings. What is the current state of art, and what new insights may we expect into the rise and spread of language variation, both looking back into the past and forward into the future? How do we deal with variation in space (diatopic) and time (diachronic)? How do we treat structural and semantic (both onomasiological and semasiological) features? The availability of big data clearly forces us to return to the basic questions of linguistic research.

Call for Papers: 

Meanwhile, different types of research have already delivered a number of promising results. The 2020 edition of the Taal & Tongval symposium therefore focuses on the budding perspectives that ‘big data’ affords for research on language variation and change. We request abstracts for 20-minute presentations focussing on one or more of the questions raised above. Researchers working on aspects of language variation and change in the Low Countries are particularly encouraged to submit abstracts, but abstracts concerning more general theoretical questions or research on variation in other languages are also welcome. 

Abstracts and presentations can be in Dutch or English. 

Anonymous abstracts of 300-500 words can be submitted until 1 May 2020 by attachment to an email to taalentongval2020@ugent.be. Name(s) and affiliation(s) of the author(s) should be given in the text of the email. Notification of acceptance will be given by 20 May 2020.