Project Details


The National Science Foundation will support the Fourth World Congress in African Linguistics, to be held at Rutgers University in New Brunswick on June 17-23, 2003. This meeting aims to bring scholars based in Africa in direct intellectual contact with scholars doing research on African languages in North America, Europe, and other regions. To accomplish this, the conference will sponsor about 20 participants from Africa who would otherwise find it financially impossible to come. Some of these will be established senior figures who can serve as role models; others will be promising junior researchers chosen by anonymous abstracts for their cutting-edge work. In all, meeting organizers expect about 300 participants and close to 150 presentations. These will cover every facet of linguistics and present data from all the major groups of African languages. The meeting will also include symposia designed to encourage research and documentation of the many endangered languages of Africa, and workshops that address major analytical problems that arise in the study of African languages. This will be the first time that the World Congress of African Linguistics has come to North America. The proceedings of the Congress will be published by Rudiger Kopp Verlag of Koln, giving a permanent record of the results.

Approximately one third of the languages spoken in the world today are African languages (an estimated 2035), and African languages have had a large impact on the development of linguistic theory. But less than 1% of these languages have been thoroughly documented. The difficulty is that most of these languages can only be studied adequately by people who are physically present in Africa, and these scholars tend to become isolated from the centers of theoretical and analytical innovation. This meeting will be a step toward improving this situation by creating contacts between Africans and non-Africans that can lead to productive long term collaborations that fertilize both communities. It will also bring a taste of the excitement of working on African languages to North America, encouraging more scholars to take up this important area.

Effective start/end date3/15/032/29/04


  • National Science Foundation: $29,130.00


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