Contested Languages in the Old World 4
Conference and workshop, Warsaw 2024

Contested languages are languages that “are generally listed in international language catalogues and atlases (…) but have not attained any reasonable degree of official political recognition by the state within which they are spoken” (Tamburelli & Tosco, 2021: 3–4).

Contested languages are distinctly apart linguistically from the official languages of the state in which they are spoken (Abstand criterion – a language by distance). Yet, they are often disregarded due to genealogical relatedness to the state’s official languages. Contested languages are not necessarily “small” in terms of the number of speakers of different age groups (although most often younger speakers tend to be less conversant and prefer the use of the state language), sometimes they have a distinct literary written tradition, and may display some level of standardization and corpus planning (Ausbau criterion – a language by development). Still, these languages are often referred to as “dialects”, “patois” etc. in everyday (and often in academic) discourse. They are not recognized as “languages” in political terms or are referred to as “languages with adjective”: regional, local, our).

Contested languages may be territorial, used by an autochthonous / indigenous people, non-territorial and non-phonetic languages (e.g. sign language as often contested in the European context). We welcome all cases of contested languages within European continua.

Aim of the conference

The conference aims to bring together scholars and activists working on the current status and future prospects of contested languages, as well as on issues of corpus and status planning, and how these impact on the speaker communities themselves and on the academic world. The conference will also serve to discuss different sociolinguistic aspects of contested languages functioning in modern society: language ideologies, attitudes and practices.


We welcome submission of abstracts for oral presentations (20 mins + 10 mins questions) and poster sessions on, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Case studies of status, corpus and acquisition planning of any contested language in Europe;
  • Comparison of the language policy and planning situations between two or more contested languages in Europe;
  • Speakers’ attitudes towards specific contested languages in Europe, with a special attention to the theory and practice of “new speakers”;
  • Relationship between languages collaterality and contestedness;
  • Issues of Abstand and Ausbau relating to one or more contested language(s) of Europe;
  • Perception of contested languages by their speakers and legislators;
  • Government attitudes towards specific contested languages in Europe, with a special attention to distance between the overt policy and planning and the “hidden agendas”;
  • The impact of local legislation and/or local initiatives on the status and attitudes of contested languages in Europe, in their immediate visibility as well as the long-term goal, i.e. guaranteeing their intergenerational transmission;
  • Contested languages vitality and ethnolinguistic vitality of their communities.

Workshop (23 May 2024)

The conference will be accompanied by a one-day workshop, designed particularly (but not exclusively) for PhD students and early career researchers. The workshop will serve to better understand the concept of “contested languages” as well as the differences and similarities between contested languages and other forms of languages minoritization or endangerment. Examples of topics covered at the workshop include:

  • Contested languages, endangered languages, collateral languages, regional, minority, minoritized and heritage languages. What does it all mean?
  • Contested languages and linguistic rights: is language contestation a matter of human rights?
  • The dynamics of language contestation: how does it happen, who does it serve, and why should we care?
  • The cost of language contestation: what are the consequences of contestation? Who does it affect, and how?
  • Planning for the future vitality and maintenance of contested languages: how do we identify language contestation, and can it be reversed?

Submission of abstracts for the conference

Abstracts for the conference should be around 300 words long. All abstracts will undergo anonymous review. Important dates:

  • Abstract Submission Closes: January 31, 2024;
  • Acceptance Notification: February 9, 2024;
  • Registration Opens: February 26, 2024;
  • Registration Closes: April 1, 2024;
  • Conference Dates: 24–25 May, 2024.

At least one author of each accepted paper or poster must register for the conference.

Registration for the conference and workshop

Application for the workshop should concern a short (1 page maximum) CV of a participant with the title and a short description of a PhD thesis (for PhD students) and main area of interests for all others.

Please send your submission only via the EasyChair platform: – new EasyChair users should register into the system.

Conference fee

  • For regular researchers: 160 Euro;
  • For PhD students: 80 Euro;
  • Workshop: 30 Euro.

Conference fee covers coffee breaks, lunch on both days of the conference (and during the workshop), conference materials. It does not cover the costs of the conference dinner.


A selection of accepted papers will appear in the two Special Issues of the Institute of Slavic Studies Polish Academy of Sciences journals (peer-reviewed and Open Access).

Social dinner

More details to come.

Plenary Speakers

  • Dr. Astrid Adler (Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache, Mannheim, Germany);
  • Dr hab. Tomasz Wicherkiewicz, prof. UAM (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland).

Accompanying event

Presentation of the findings of the research project “Linguistic Diversity of Poland” (PI Nicole Dołowy-Rybińska, funded by the National Science Center) and open discussion.

Conference Scientific Committee

  • Dr hab. Nicole Dołowy-Rybińska, prof. IS PAN (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland);
  • Prof. Marco Tamburelli (Bangor University, Wales, Great Britain;
  • Prof. Dr. Mauro Tosco (Università degli Studi di Torino, Italy).

Conference Organising Committee (Institute of Slavic Studies, Polish Academy of Sciences)

The conference is financially supported by the Polish Ministry of Education and Science (Doskonała Nauka II – wsparcie konferencji naukowych, KONF/SP/0219/2023/01).

Logo of Ministry of Education and Science, Republic of Poland