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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

uct logo
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


Andries Coetzee
University of Michigan

The phonetics/phonology research tradition of the past five or six decades tended to treat languages as mostly invariant systems that can be subjected to description and analysis (e.g., the syllable structure of Language X, the acoustics of sibilants in Language Y, etc.). The past decade, however, have seen an increased move towards recognizing the variation between individual speakers, even within the same speech community. In this paper, I will review the shift in focus from languages as invariant systems to their individual speakers, and will interrogate the relationship between individuals and the languages that they speak. The paper will consider questions such as the limits of individual variation within a speech community, the sources of individual variation (be those cognitive, biological, or social), and the agency of individuals in the use of that variation. The paper will argue that any adequate formal model of the linguistic competence of speakers has to allow for the complex interplay between the individual agency of speakers and the linguistic communities in which they participate.

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