International workshop on linguistic microareas in South Asia

Uppsala University

5-6 May 2014


Location: Gustavianum (Auditorium Minus)

Multilingualism has long been the norm in South Asia. There are signs of language contact between Vedic Sanskrit and Dravidian languages in the Rig Veda, the oldest extant Indian text. It is reasonable to assume that this long-lasting contact situation will have made the languages of this region more similar in many respects to each other than they are to their genetically related languages spoken outside the region. However, systematic investigations of the areal phenomena within South Asia have been few and narrow in scope. Which areal phenomena are characteristic of South Asia, as well as their geographical extent, remains unclear. Some 'microareas' within South Asia have also been proposed, for example, the Himalayan region, where a long history of language contact and multilingualism has led to convergence on many linguistic levels between the two genetically unrelated language families of the area (Tibeto-Burman and Indo-Aryan). Another microarea which has been proposed is South-South Asia which encompasses Sri Lanka and parts of India, with primarily Dravidian and Indo-Aryan languages. It has further been suggested that Dardic (Indo-Aryan) is not a genetic, but rather a geographical/areal labelling of languages of North India and Northwestern Pakistan, and a similar suggestion has been made for West Himalayish (Tibeto-Burman).

In order to obtain a clearer picture of areal phenomena within South Asia, there is a need for more comprehensive overviews of the linguistic patterns from different geographical regions in South Asia in order to discuss the relationships between linguistic features that are attributed to the microareas and features that encompass the entire South Asian region, as well as to disentangle genetic and areal traits. This two-day workshop is intended as a forum to discuss these issues in more depth.

Call for papers

We invite researchers working on these and related problems to submit proposals for presentations at the workshop, including but not limited to topics such as:

  • case-studies on the linguistic structure of a selected geographical region (a contrastive study of two languages will not be prioritised)
  • socio-linguistic studies pertaining to a geographical region, with implications for the linguistic structure of the concerned languages
  • relationship between the proposed microareas and South Asia as a linguistic area
  • methodological challenges for areal linguistics, with empirical data from South Asia
  • synchronic data and prehistory, with data from South Asia

Abstracts should be one (A4 or letter) page long, with 25 mm/one inch margins and the text in a 12 point Roman font. A second page may be included for references and/or data. Abstracts --in pdf format only-- should be sent to: <microareas(at)lingfil(d)uu(d)se> (change the parenthesized expressions into the appropriate characters)


A selected number of papers from the workshop will be considered for publication in the Journal of South Asian Languages and Linguistics.