12th Historical Sociolinguistics Network Conference 2023

31 May – 2 June 2023
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Theme: Language histories from above and from below

Venue: BIP Meeting CenterKoningsstraat 2-4, 1000 Brussel
             (in the center of Brussels)

— click here for the program —

Thanks for your attendance and see you next year in Salzburg! 

Keynote speakers:

  • Shana Poplack (Université d’Ottawa)
    “En route to change: The circuitous pathways of spontaneous speech”
  • Simon Pickl (Paris-Lodron-Universität Salzburg)
    “Standardization and linguistic ideals. Relativizing the principle of variation reduction” 
  • Jeroen Darquennes (Université de Namur)
    “Voices from oblivion. The forgotten richness of macrosociolinguistic debates on language shift and maintenance”
  • Salikoko S. Mufwene (University of Chicago)
    “The role of population structure in language change”

Conference booklet (as PDF)download

Registration closed!

Registration (before May 1st):
(includes all lectures, coffee breaks, lunches, and welcome reception)

  • Regular attendees: €195
  • Student attendees (unfunded): €95
    (PhD candidates or students who do not have full funding to attend this conference)
  • Conference dinner (optional): €60 

Late registration (after May 1st):
(includes all lectures, coffee breaks, lunches, and welcome reception)

  • Regular attendees: €295  
  • Student attendees (unfunded): €150 
    (PhD candidates or students who do not have full funding to attend this conference)
  • Conference dinner (optional): €60 

Registration and cancellation policy: 

Registration is binding. If you wish to cancel your registration please contact the organizers at hison2023@gmail.com. If you cancel before the 1st of May, a processing fee of €50 will be charged. Refunds will be processed within 30 days after the conference. Refunds will not be granted for cancellations received after the 1st of May nor will they be given for no-shows.

Plenary speakers 

Shana Poplack
En route to change: The circuitous pathways of spontaneous speech

Read abstract

Shana Poplack is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Ottawa, where she founded the Sociolinguistics Laboratory and served as three time holder of the Canada Research Chair in Linguistics. She took her PhD (1979) at the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of William Labov, is a fellow of the Linguistic Society of America (2009), and holds a honorary doctorate of University College Dublin. She is most well-known for her pioneering work on language contact, contact-induced change, standardization and prescriptivism in French, and language variation and change more generally. 

Jeroen Darquennes
Voices from oblivion: The forgotten richness of macrosociolinguistic debates on language maintenance and language shift

Read abstract

Jeroen Darquennes is Professor in German Linguistics and General Linguistics at the Université de Namur. His research focuses on language contact and conflict among linguistic minorities in Europe. He is the author of dozens of publications on aspects of language policy and planning in Europe, he is one of the editors of the Sociolinguistica yearbook (De Gruyter) and a member of the editorial board of journals such as the Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics (De Gruyter) and Language, Culture & Curriculum (Routledge), of which he was associate editor between 2013 and 2016. He currently serves as vice-rector for international relations at the Université de Namur.

Simon Pickl
Standardization and linguistic ideals. Relativizing the principle of variation reduction

Read abstract

Simon Pickl is currently a Assistenzprofessor at the Paris-Lodron University in Salzburg, Austria, where he specializes in German dialectology, corpus linguistics, and language variation and change. In recent years, he was a Research Fellow at the Department of German and Dutch of the University of Cambridge and a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Queens’ College Cambridge. In 2022, he received his venia docendi at the Universität Salzburg, with a habilitation on morphosyntactic change in SermonC, a diachronic corpus of historical German sermons. For part of this work, he was also awarded the 2019 Hugo-Moser-Preis für Germanistische Sprachwissenschaft.

Salikoko Mufwene
The role of population structure in language change

Read abstract

Salikoko Mufwene is the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, where he also obtained his PhD (1979). Professor Mufwene has worked extensively on the development of creole languages, the morphosyntax of Bantu languages and on African American Vernacular English. He has also published several articles and chapters about language evolution and the emergence of new languages in contexts of colonial indigenization of European languages. He is a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America, and was recently elected to the American Philosophical Society (2022). During the 2022-23 academic year, he is serving as the Academic Director of the University of Chicago Center in Paris. 


Participants are required to book their own accommodation as this is not included in the conference fee.

We have listed some recommended accomodations in Brussels. Via Accor Group Hotel, you can receive a discount by filling out this code as a loyalty or subscribtion number: 30810315092931NZ

  • Aparthotel Adagio access Brussels Europe (11 min. walk to conference venue)
    Aparthotel offering fully equipped apartment studios for 2-4 people, near the EU institutions and not far from the city center.
  • Ibis Brussels off Grand Place (***) (10 min. walk to conference venue)
    Ibis economy hotel, perfectly located in the heart of the city center and near the central railway station
  • Novotel Brussels off Grand Place (****) (10 min. walk to conference venue)
    Four-star hotel right in the center of the city, near the central railway station
  • Le Louise Hotel Brussels – MGallery (*****) (12 min. walk to conference venue)
    Luxury boutique hotel in the fancy Louise shopping district, a short walk from the touristy city center
  • Happy Guesthouse: with discount code “Happy-VUB” (5 min. walk to conference venue and 2 min. walk from the central railway station) Small and adorable hotel in the historical city-centre, owned and managed by a local. 

Other hotel options near the conference venue can be booked through websites such as booking.com.

Venue and travel


The 12th Historical Sociolinguistics Network Conference will be held in the historic center of Brussels, more specifically in BIP – Huis van het Gewest on Place Royale, which is located within walking distance from the Grand-Place as well as the Royal Palace of Brussels.


Tram 92, 94 (stop ‘Paleis’)

Metro 1, 5 (stop ‘Centraal Station’ or ‘Park’)

Bus 38, 71, 95 (stop ‘Koning’)

Train Centraal Station

Bike sharing station ‘Koninklijk paleis’ (Koningsstraat)

Parking Paleizenplein, Albertina (Gerechtsplein 16), Poelaert-Zavel (Poelaert plein), Grote Markt (Grasmarktstraat 104)



If you prefer to come to Brussels by plane, we recommend traveling to Brussels Airport. The airport has a direct train connection to the center of Brussels (stop: Bruxelles-Central), which only takes 30 minutes. You can check the timetable of the trains here. It is important to note that if you travel from the airport to the center of Brussels, you must include the Brussels Airport Supplement when purchasing a ticket to exit the train station within the airport.

Another option is to fly to the Brussels South Charleroi Airport. To get to the city of Brussels you can either book a taxi, or take a shuttle bus from Flibco, which will take you to the train station Bruxelles-Midi in about an hour. From Bruxelles-Midi you can take the tram, metro or train to any place in Brussels. Instead of taking a taxi or a shuttle bus, you can also take the public bus from Charleroi Airport to the train station of Charleroi, where you can take a train to Brussels, although this is less convenient.

If you prefer to travel by train, we suggest booking a ticket to Bruxelles-Central. From there you can easily reach any part of Brussels by bus, tram, metro or train. The Central station is within walking distance of the conference venue.


Belgian beer reception

A wonderful welcome reception serving authentic Belgian beers (and other drinks!).

Wednesday 31st May, 7:00pm-8:30pm 

Location: the historic Brewers Guild House on the Grand Place 10. Look out for the facade saying Maison des Brasseurs, in the Southwest corner of the square, to the left of the Gothic town hall. 

Included in the registration price for all conference participants. Registration required.

City walk

A historic walk through Brussels’ history!

Thursday 1st June

Start: 6:15 pm, in front of the conference venue

End: 7:45 pm, at the church of the Grand Sablon, from where we’ll walk over to the conference dinner in group (± 10 more minutes)

Included in the registration price for all conference participants. Registration required.

Conference dinner

We will have the conference dinner in the heart of the old working class neighborhood ‘les Marolles’, at ‘Au Stekerlapatte’ (Priestersstraat 4 rue des Prêtres, 1000 Brussel), at an easy 15-minute walk from the conference venue. The restaurant is a true Belgian classic, a typical ‘brasserie de Bruxelles’, with good, home-made food, a sound selection of local beers, and a friendly atmosphere without pretense. It’s named after the word for the ‘stickleback’ fish, in the highly mixed Dutch-French Marolles dialect. 

The menu will include three courses and accompanying drinks. There will be a vegan and a vegetarian option. 

Thursday 1st June, 8pm

Registration required, € 60 per person.

Call for papers

Now closed!

The conference welcomed submissions for:

  • individual presentations,
  • poster presentations, and
  • thematic panels, roundtables or workshops.

We welcome contributions on themes addressed by researchers working in historical sociolinguistics, within a broad view of the field, including (sub)disciplines and themes such as dialect contact and new dialect formation, historical dialectology and geolinguistics, historical discourse analysis, historical pragmatics, history of linguistics and the history of language teaching, intra-speaker variation, networks and communities of practice, language and gender, language attitudes and ideologies, language history ‘from below’, language maintenance, shift and revitalization, language planning and policy in the past, linguistic identities and style, methodology and corpus linguistics, multilingualism, language contact, code-switching, registers, genres and text types, representations of speech in writing, standardization, norms, purism and prescriptivism, variationist sociolinguistics, and language variation and change. Also scholars working in disciplines and theoretical frameworks other than those typically associated with sociolinguistics – such as linguistic anthropology, literary analysis, cultural studies or history – are warmly welcomed to submit proposals.

We particularly – but not exclusively – invite submissions focusing on the central theme of the 2023 conference:

“Language histories from above and from below”

For decades now, historical sociolinguists have argued that we need to supplement the traditional accounts of language histories ‘from above’, marked by the different types of biases in terms of writers and texts, with new approaches incorporating perspectives ‘from below’. Studies taking such perspectives try to widen the scope of the material used in constructing language history, by incorporating handwritten texts and less formal writings, often closer to conceptual orality (e.g. ego-documents), written by men, women and children from different social ranks and backgrounds – pushing the primary focus away from literary and highly formal writings of highly-educated elite writers as our windows into the past. Nonetheless, such perspectives from below should be seen as complementary to older and ongoing work from above, and the interaction between language histories from below and from above is still an important topic to explore, as are the links between social conceptualizations of ‘from above’ and ‘from below’, versus the more traditional Labovian interpretation of changes through the speech community above or below the level of speakers’ conscious awareness. As such, we invite contributions taking more traditional ‘from above’ perspectives, as well as contributions working with approaches or material ‘from below’, in addition to any studies focusing on the interactions between these two.

Individual papers are formal presentations on original research by one or more authors, lasting a total of 30 minutes (20 minutes for presentation and 10 minutes for discussion). The length of abstracts for individual papers is max. 500 words (including possible references).

Poster presentations can be used to share work-in-progress or upcoming research, fieldwork, the construction of new corpora, or results of empirical research containing data that are best presented in a visual format. A block of time will be designated when presenters are available to discuss their posters, to offer the opportunity for individualized informal discussions. The length of abstracts for posters is max. 500 words (including possible references).

For proposals regarding thematic panels, roundtables or workshops, we are open to any suggestions coming from the scholarly community. Ideally, such events follow the 30-minute build-up of the general conference, so that participants can switch between the general session and specific events. We strongly prefer shorter, focused events (e.g. a general introduction paper, 3-4 papers by different contributors, and a final discussion or reflection) than longer events. Panel organizers are expected to invite contributors, including potential discussant(s), in advance, and submit one full proposal which includes (1) the general aims and rationale of the event (max. 500 words), as well as (2) the names, affiliations and short abstracts (200-300 words) for each contribution (including introduction and/or discussion, although the abstract may be limited to just one or two sentences in those cases). The organizers take active responsibility for the quality of the contributions to their panel, and are expected to guide their participants through the process so that all formal requirements are duly fulfilled and the abstracts satisfy the expected international standards.



Main organizers:
Yasmin Crombez | Wim Vandenbussche  | Julie Van Ongeval | Rik Vosters 

Organizing committee:
Klaas Bentein (Universiteit Gent) | Anne Breitbarth (Universiteit Gent) | Yasmin Crombez (FWO & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Ludovic De Cuypere (Universiteit Gent & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Stefano De Pascale (KULeuven & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Chris De Wulf (Universität Zurich & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Christa Schneider (Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Universität Bern) | Mark Janse (Universiteit Gent) | Philipp Krämer (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Bart Lambert (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Eline Lismont (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Catharina Peersman (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Peter Petré (Universiteit Antwerpen) | Jill Puttaert (Universiteit Leiden & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Magda Serwadczak (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Mieke Vandenbroucke (Universiteit Antwerpen) | Wim Vandenbussche (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Iris Van de Voorde (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Julie Van Ongeval (FWO & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Charlotte Verheyden (FWO & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Ulrike Vogl (Universiteit Gent) | Rik Vosters (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Scientific committee:
Anne Breitbarth (Universiteit Gent) | Agnette Nesse (University of Bergen) | Alexander Bergs (University of Osnabrueck) | Alexandra D’Arcy (University of Victoria) | Andreas H. Jucker (University of Zurich) | Anita Auer (University of Lausanne) | Anna Havinga (University of Bristol) | Arja Nurmi (University of Tampere) | Bart Lambert (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Bridget Drinka (The University of Texas at San Antonio) | Carolina Amador-Moreno (University of Bergen) | Chris De Wulf (Universität Zurich & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Christopher Strelluf (University of Warwick) | Daniel Schreier (University of Zurich) | David Britain (University of Bern) | Donald Tuten (Emory University) | Ernst Håkon Jahr (University of Agder) | Fernando Tejedo-Herrero (University of Wisconsin) | Giedrius Subačius (University of Illinois at Chicago) | Gijsbert Rutten (Leiden University) | Gro-Renée Rambø (University of Agder) | Hanna Rutkowska (Adam Mickiewicz University) | Horst Simon (Freie Universität Berlin) | Ingrid Tieken Boon-van Ostade (Leiden University) | Israel Sanz-Sánchez (West Chester University) | Jacob Thaisen (University of Oslo) | Jane Hodson (University of Sheffield) | Javier Calle-Martín (University of Malaga) | Jennifer Hendriks (Australian National University) | Joanna Kopaczyk (University of Glasgow) | José Del Valle (CUNY) | Joseph Salmons (University of Wisconsin) | Josh Brown (University of Western Australia) | Juan Antonio Cutillas-Espinosa (University of Murcia) | Juan Camilo Conde-Silvestre (University of Murcia) | Juan Manuel Hernández-Campoy (University of Murcia) | Julia Fernández-Cuesta (University of Seville) | Klaas Bentein (Universiteit Gent) | Kristine Horner (University of Sheffield) | Laura Wright (University of Cambridge) | Ludovic De Cuypere (Universiteit Gent & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Mari Jones (University of Cambridge) | Marijke van der Wal (Leiden University) | Marina Dossena (University of Bergamo) | Mark Janse (Universiteit Gent) | Mark Richard Lauersdorf (University of Kentucky) | Markus Schiegg (University Friedrich-Alexander of Erlangen-Nurnberg) | Matylda Włodarczyk (Adam Mickiewicz University) | Memet Aktürk-Drake (Uppsala University) | Merja Kytö (Uppsala University) | Merja Stenroos (University of Stavanger) | Michael Schulte (University of Agder) | Michelle Waldispühl (University of Gothenburg) | Mieke Vandenbroucke (Universiteit Antwerpen) | Minna Nevala (University of Helsinki) | Minna Palander-Collin (University of Helsinki) | Nils Langer (Europa-Universität Flensburg) | Nuria Yáñez-Bouza (University of Vigo) | Peter Petré (Universiteit Antwerpen) | Peter Trudgill (University of East Anglia / University of Fribourg) | Philipp Krämer (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Randi Neteland (University of Bergen / Høgskulen på Vestlandet) | Rik Vosters (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Rita Franceschini (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano) | Samantha M. Litty (Europa-Universität Flensburg) | Sandrine Tailleur (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi) | Sarah Thomason (University of Michigan) | Stefano De Pascale (KULeuven & Vrije Universiteit Brussel) | Stephan Elspaß (University of Salzburg) | Susan Fitzmaurice (University of Sheffield) | Tamara García-Vidal (University of Murcia) | Tania Avilés Vergara (Universidad Católica de Temuco) | Tanja Säily (University of Helsinki) | Terttu Nevalainen (University of Helsinki) | Ulrike Vogl (Universiteit Gent) | Wendy Ayres-Bennett (University of Cambridge) | Wim Remysen (Université de Sherbrooke) | Wim Vandenbussche (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)



Main organizers:
Yasmin Crombez
Wim Vandenbussche
Julie Van Ongeval
Rik Vosters