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Micro-variation in Multilingualism (call for papers)

Ultima actualizare: 13 Feb 2020

Tromsø, Norway, 17-18 September 2020

Call deadline: 15 May 2020


Micro-variation in Multilingualism

UiT The Arctic University of Norway
September 17-18, 2020

We are inviting abstracts for the workshop Micro-variation in Multilingualism hosted by the AcqVA (Acquisition, Variation & Attrition) research group and the project MiMS (Microvariation in Multilingual acquisition & attrition Situations), funded by the Research Council of Norway 2016-2020.

Keynote speakers

The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers working on micro-variation in bi- and multilingual populations on topics that are (directly or indirectly) related to the questions investigated in MiMS. Topics that extend the focus of the project, e.g. to different language combinations, different linguistic phenomena or different populations, are especially welcome. The following is a brief project description (more information may be found on the MiMS project website):

The MiMS project addresses central issues in linguistics within a new approach to language acquisition and attrition, the Micro-Cue Model (MCM,) which has been developed in a number of publications in recent years (e.g. Westergaard 2009, 2014) based on data from monolingual acquisition. The fundamental claim of the model is that young children do not learn language by setting large-scale parameters, but that they are sensitive to fine linguistic distinctions from early on. The MiMS project extends this theoretical approach to multilingual situations, and new data are collected from several populations of bi- and multilingual children and adults, e.g. German-Russian bilingual children, Norwegian-American heritage speakers, and bilingual children learning a third language. The focus is on (morpho-)syntactic micro-variation in Norwegian, Russian, German and English, related to word order and certain aspects of nominal structure (grammatical gender, determiner use). These languages and these syntactic constructions represent interesting combinations of challenges, both for children acquiring and adults maintaining these systems in multilingual contexts. According to the MCM, both acquisition and change take place in small steps. The MiMS project investigates to what extent these small steps and fine distinctions are also operative in multilingualism, as cross-linguistic influence. By identifying the small steps (referred to as micro-cues), the project increases our understanding of the human language faculty and the building blocks of language. It also investigates the effect of more general factors such as complexity, frequency and economy in the acquisition and attrition processes. Some of the results of the project may be found in Westergaard et al. (2017), Anderssen et al. (2018), Mitrofanova et al. (2018) and Westergaard (2019).

The deadline for abstract submissions is May 15, 2020. Abstracts should be submitted here.

We welcome both paper and poster presentations. We also encourage junior researchers to submit their work. Length of presentations is 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for Q&A.

We also plan to publish a special issue in Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism (LAB) after this workshop.

Length of abstracts: max. 1 page; references, examples, charts and tables may be provided on an additional page.

Travel grants: PhD and MA students may apply for three travel grants of NOK 5,000 each. Please indicate your interest when submitting your abstract.

We look forward to welcoming you to Tromsø in September 2020!

Organizing Committee
Nadine Kolb
Natalia Mitrofanova
Merete Anderssen
Yulia Rodina
Tanja Kupisch
Terje Lohndal
Jason Rothman
Isabel Nadine Jensen
Roumyana Slabakova
Marit Westergaard


Anderssen, Merete, Björn Lundquist & Marit Westergaard. 2018. Cross-linguistic similarities and differences in bilingual acquisition and attrition: Possessives and double definiteness in Norwegian heritage language. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 21:4, 748-764.

Mitrofanova, Natalia, Yulia Rodina, Olga Urek & Marit Westergaard. 2018. Bilinguals’ sensitivity to grammatical gender cues in Russian: the role of cumulative input, proficiency, and dominance. Frontiers in Psychology.

Westergaard, Marit. 2009. Usage-based vs. Rule-based Learning: The Acquisition of Word Order in Wh-Questions in English and Norwegian. Journal of Child Language 36.5, 1023-1051.

Westergaard, Marit. 2014. Linguistic variation and micro-cues in first language acquisition. Linguistic Variation, 14.1, 26-45

Westergaard, Marit. 2019. Microvariation in Multilingual Situations: The Importance of Property-by-Property Acquisition. Keynote article in Second Language Research.

Westergaard, Marit, Natalia Mitrofanova, Roksolana Mykhaylyk & Yulia Rodina. 2017. Crosslinguistic influence in the acquisition of a third language: The Linguistic Proximity Model. International Journal of Bilingualism.