The proposal addresses the complex, multi-level dimensions of historical and contemporary multilingualism: (1) the presence of individual multilingualism in local and regional settings; (2) the characteristics and dynamics of such multilingual settings, in other words, societal multilingualism. The fundamental aim of the project is to reconstruct, explain and better understand the mechanisms and causality of the processes behind the emergence, continuity, reduction and loss (as well as possible re-emergence) of multilingualism in differing historical, geographical, social, political and cultural contexts. These goals address not only essential gaps in the state of knowledge, but also significant questions about the past and the present of human development. The project will embrace historical and contemporary multilingual milieux from four regions relevant for understanding the causal frameworks underlying multilingual trajectories: selected historical multilingual hotspots from Central-Eastern Europe, Mesoamerica, South Africa and the Archipelago of Vanuatu. They represent a diversity of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial contexts, ensuring a meaningful comparison. The case studies also offer a novel possibility to study the ‘invisibility’ of multilingualism and uncover its neglected history(ies). The research will focus on a broad range of rural communities and a smaller amount of urban contexts, thus permitting comparative insights into urban multilingualism. A multidisciplinary approach will combine in novel ways historical and present data, qualitative and quantitative methods as well as mathematical modeling, data-driven mapping and GIS mapping. Its expected results will provide informed diagnoses and predictions with huge potential for improving existing language policies and educational strategies oriented toward the preservation of linguistic-cultural diversity and sustainable multilingualism.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeERC-COG - Consolidator Grant