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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
Download Info


2 - 6 July 2018


Professor Pieter Muysken
Radboud University

Language contact research now has a history of over sixty years, starting with the seminal publications by Weinreich and Haugen in the 1950s, and its trajectory has been extremely successful in academic terms. It has diversified into a large number of subfields, ranging from neuro-imaging research of the multilingual brain to political discourse analysis in minority-dominant language competitions, via creole studies, code-switching, and linguistic area studies. Its very success also poses at least three challenges, however. The first challenge is unification. No need of course for all language contact specialists to talk to each other all the time, but extreme fragmentation makes people lose sight of common research questions and results that go beyond a sub-discipline. The second challenge is external boundaries. Since the notion of a language has become more and more multiplex and variable, it is hard to see, sometimes, where language contact studies begin and “non-contact” developmental linguistic studies end. The third challenge comes from the fact that, as the language sciences are discovering both the complexities of and the regularities underlying multilingual practices, in many social and political constellations all over the world monolingual models of language behaviour are taken as the norm, with old nationalisms blending with new mono-ethnic conceptions of the human space.

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