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A warm welcome to the website of ICL 20, the 20th International Congress of Linguists. The congress is to be held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre between the 2nd to the 6th of July 2018. The hosts are CIPL (Comité International Permanent des Linguistes), the LSSA (Linguistics Society of Southern Africa) and UCT (the University of Cape Town). Our partner organisations are given below. Please follow the links to find out more about these dynamic organisations.

The Congress is held every five years, and is meant to showcase current developments in Linguistics. The Congress will run over five days, have a plenary panel on linguistics in South Africa, nine plenary speakers covering a range of major sub-fields, 10 paper sessions each with its own focus speaker, up to 30 workshops, and several poster sessions. While speakers and topics are drawn from a wide international pool, ICL 20 will take the additional opportunity of showcasing African language research. It will also cover applied linguistic areas of research of vital importance to the African continent and the 21st century at large, with a special extended session on Multilingualism, Education, Policy and Development.

Please take a look at the pages on our Scientific Committee, our invited plenary speakers, session topics and call for workshop proposals and abstracts. If you haven’t visited Cape Town before, please also have a look at some of the images of a beautiful and diverse city. We look forward to welcoming you at the tip of Africa in July 2018.

Prof. Rajend Mesthrie

President ICL 20.
June 2016.

In conjunction with Prof. D. Bradley. President CIPL

Hosts & Supporting/Partner Associations


Comité International Permanent des Linguistes / Permanent International Committee of Linguists

Linguistics Society of Southern Africa

Southern African Applied Linguistics Association

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University of Cape Town
African Language Association of Southern Africa

South African Association for ​Language Teaching


Registration NOW OPEN!
27 June 2018 Online Registration Closes


Water situation in Cape Town
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2 - 6 July 2018


Prof. Loraine Obler (CUNY)

Plasticity has been called upon to account for the critical period in second-language (L2) acquisition and for related sensitive periods for different linguistic aspects of it. At the same time it can be employed to account for individual differences in L2 learning and acquisition at older ages. It has also been considered to underlie the apparent cognitive advantages of bilingualism for children and older adults who presumably practice cognitive control more often than monolinguals, and even for bilinguals and multilinguals’ later diagnoses of dementia. Such plasticity may be considered ‘additive’; that is, by practicing a set of skills, bilinguals’ and multilinguals’ inter-neuronal connectivity is enhanced.

Plasticity, however, also entails a second set of phenomena that require pruning of connections and defacilitation of neuronal connections. Such physiological phenomena, I will argue, underlie language attrition (the over-riding of one language by another that has become more dominant) and syntactic and lexical influence of a later language on an earlier one. Concurrent additive and subtractive plasticity effects can explain mutual-interference effects of Voice Onset Time adjustment in early bilinguals.

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