CFP: Norm and standardization in Indigenous languages of the Americas

56th International Congress of Americanists: Universality and Particularism in the Americas

University of Salamanca, July 15‒20, 2018

Call for papers for the symposium

15/18: Norm and standardization in Indigenous languages of the Americas

Area: Linguistics & Literature

Please, send paper proposals through the form on the congress webpage:

  • Deadline for abstracts: October 20, 2017
  • Communication of accepted papers: October 31, 2017


  • Prof. Dr. Lenka Zajícová (Palacky University, Olomouc)
  • Dr. Carla Amorós Negre (University of Salamanca)

Languages of symposium: Spanish, English, Portuguese

Keywords: language standardization; language standard; language norm; Amerindian languages; language policy and planning; language management; bilingual education; language attitudes; language ideology; language purism


The emancipatory processes of Amerindian languages, driven both from below and from above, have had a wide range of consequences, ranging from the most symbolic, such as their proclamation as co-official languages in the legislation of a large number of Latin American countries, to much more practical, such as intercultural bilingual education, which, with variety of programs, methods, aims, and results, exists in practically all Latin American countries. It is especially the latter context that, before or after, raises the challenge of establishing some written standard, to enable the creation of educational materials. These processes are, in most cases, conditioned by a Western linguistic conceptualization, clearly reflected in the creation of a standard variety, a concept of Western roots closely linked to the written and codified variety of a language. It is not surprising, therefore, that the emergence of a standard may conflict with the conceptualization of the language norm of linguistic communities of primarily oral tradition. The idea and the search for good linguistic use are omnipresent. It is a cultural universal that springs from the natural tendency of each human being to evaluate the behavior of the other, including linguistic behavior. This linguistic ideal is often influenced by ideas about linguistic purism, which is not an exclusively Western phenomenon, as can be illustrated by the examples of the Maya hach ​​or guaraniete, which are considered as authentic, true, legitimate, pure, but at the same time unreachable languages, and which present themselves in opposition to what is actually spoken, varieties that are results of mixture and contact, such as xe’ek’ maya or jopara.

The symposium aims to bring together experts in linguistic standardization, both theoretical and practical, with different experiences in the codification and elaboration of standard varieties of Amerindian languages, to reflect and try to find viable paths, answers, and solutions of many questions that these processes rise, such as:

  • How to handle the conflict between the different conceptualizations of the linguistic norm?
  • What cases are documented of oral standards emerging prior to explicit codification of a written standard?
  • How to elaborate the language standard in a situation of intense language contact between different languages ​​and varieties?
  • How to avoid negative attitudes in speakers (linguistic self-disrespect and insecurity) towards their vernacular varieties during the creation of a standard and its implementation in a linguistic community?
  • How to avoid negative attitudes towards the language standard proposals?
  • How to handle ambiguous attitudes towards writing and its appropriation in linguistic communities?
  • What experiences are there with codification, especially with the creation of monolingual dictionaries and grammars?
  • What influence in the process of standardization can have the democratization and variation of writing practiced in new media?
  • How can we ensure that standardization will lead to the maintenance and revitalization of these minorized and vulnerable languages?


Amorós Negre, C. (2008). Norma y estandarización. Salamanca: Luso-Española.

Amorós Negre, C. (2014): Las lenguas en la sociedad. Madrid: Síntesis.

Milroy, J. & Milroy, L. (1985): Authority in language. Investigating language prescription & standardization. London: Routledge.

Milroy, J. (2001): “Language ideologies and the consequences of standardization.” En: Journal of Sociolinguistics 5 (4), 530-555.

Pfeiler, B. (1998): “El Xe’ek y la Hach Maya: cambio y futuro del maya ante la modernidad cultural en Yucatán.” En: Convergencia e Individualidad: Las lenguas Mayas entre hispanización e indigenismo, ed. Andreas Koechert y Thomas Stolz, Hannover: Verlag für Ethnologie, 125-140.

Terborg, R., & García Landa, L. (eds.) (2001): Los retos de la planificación del lenguaje en el siglo XXI. 2 Vols. México: UNAM.

Zajícová, L. (2014): “El jopara: la cara descubierta del guaraní paraguayo.” In Prácticas y políticas lingüísticas: Nuevas variedades, normas, actitudes y perspectivas. Ed. Klaus Zimmermann. Madrid: Iberoamericana; Frankfurt am Main: Vervuert, 285-314.

Zimmermann, K. (1999): Política del lenguaje y planificación para los pueblos amerindios: ensayos de ecología lingüística. Madrid/Frankfurt am Main: Iberoamericana/Vervuert.

Zimmermann, K. (2009): “El purismo como intento de contrarrestar la translingualización: ¿Hasta qué punto es posible.” En: La lingüística como reto epistemológico y como acción social: Estudios dedicados al Profesor Ángel López García con ocasión de su sexagésimo aniversario. Ed. Montserrat Veyrat Rigat y Enrique Serra Alegre. Vol. 2. Madrid: Arco Libros, 991-1002.

Zimmermann, K. (2010): “El manejo de las lenguas en contacto (interferencia, transferencia, préstamo, code switching etc.) desde la perspectiva del constructivismo neurobiológico.” En: XXVe Congrès International de Linguistique et de Philologie Romanes (Innsbruck 3-8 septembre 2007). Ed. Maria Iliescu, Heidi Siller-Runggaldier y Paul Danler. Vol. 1. Berlin: De Gruyter, 461-474.

Updated: September 7, 2018 — 6:44 pm