Languages in Urban Spaces

Workshop, University of Bern, 11th–13th of December 2019

From the very beginning of sociolinguistics, language use in urban spaces was of central interest for variationists. However, within the last decades the focus of studies concerning languages in urban spaces has shifted from investigating homogeneity in social stratification and style shifting to exploring the complex dynamics of multilingualism, language diversity and/or multiethnolects. Therefore, research on language use in urban spaces draws a new picture today, one that points from homogeneity to heterogeneity. Moreover, urban spaces are today understood as superdiverse and ever-changing universes that are shaped by multicultural and multi-ethnic communities and their languages and varieties, which are in permanent contact. Thus, language contact in urban areas has to be seen as fertile soil for new varieties and ways of life, increasingly affected by the coexistence of different cultural, ethnical and social spheres.

Sociolinguistic research plays a central role in order to understand multilingual practices, language contact, or diverse indexical fields. Researching languages and varieties in urban spaces from a sociolinguistic perspective also helps to better understand the dynamics of language variation and change in general, especially when core concepts of the field are imposed on superdiverse and highly heterogeneous communities as they are found in urban settings.

Thus, this workshop aims to bring together different sociolinguistic perspectives on languages in urban spaces:

  • multilingualism and language diversity in urban spaces
  • multiethnolects and new urban vernaculars
  • migration and language
  • communities of practice and language and identity in urban spaces
  • language contact and language variation and change in urban spaces
  • language variation and change in urban and rural dialects
  • urban indexical fields and linguistic landscaping


Keynote speakers:

  • Peter Auer, University of Freiburg
  • David Britain, University of Bern
  • Unn Røyneland, University of Oslo

Dr. Lars Bülow – University of Salzburg/Center for the Study of Language and Society, University of Bern

M.A. Christa Schneider – Center for the Study of Language and Society, University of Bern

University of Bern
Hochschulstrasse 4
3012 Bern

Room 033

Participation is free, however, you need to register with Christa Schneider by 06.12.2019.

Together with a conference report, MA students of sociolinguistics can earn 3 ECTS.