The International Conference on Missionary Linguistics focuses on older texts (colonial, postcolonial, mainly from missionaries) with the following objectives: the history of linguistics, linguistic documentation, translation studies and sociocultural analysis. The aim of historical linguistics is to describe older stages of languages as well as (processes of) language change, while the history of linguistics studies early thinking on languages, linguistic typologies and structures. These studies are often interrelated with those of the cultural context in which colonial and postcolonial societies developed. Non-Western languages are our main focus.
The cognitive appropriation of foreign cultural givens and the transcultural processes such as transference and translation implicated in these processes (based on intercultural encounters and interactions between the European missionaries and the speakers of the various indigenous languages and cultures in the Americas, Asia or Africa can be considered activities of one party colonizing or only influencing the other party. Within this framework, the learning, recording and studying of the ‘local’ languages by the missionaries can be described as complex processes of perception of the language and culture (semantics and pragmatics) of the other party and of the one in confrontation with the other, processes at the interface between subjective and socially constructed knowledge.
In the field of the history of applied linguistics, the perspective of language study, documentation, and teaching was radically changing during the age of the great discoveries. In Europe, grammars and dictionaries of the vernacular language appeared, and in the Americas the colonization and evangelization of the indigenous tribes went hand in hand with linguistic studies, which often antedate the documentation of many European “national” languages. These pioneering works contain many innovative aspects on all levels: phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics and even beyond (translation theory and practices, rhetoric, stylistics, cultural studies, anthropology), since the languages they encountered often did not share the same features the Westerners were familiar with.
The X International Conference on Missionary Linguistics (Rome, March 21-24, 2018) focuses on Asia. From the perspective of the History of Linguistics, the languages encountered in Asia were a great challenge for missionaries who based their work mainly on the Greco-Latin model, which was developed for the description of Greek and Latin, (which puts particular emphasis on inflectional and derivational morphology). The tonal systems in several varieties of Chinese, Vietnamese, the agglutinative patterns of Dravidian languages or Japanese, the concept of “transitivity” and “voice” in Austronesian languages are just a few examples which can be studied from the perspective of the history of linguistics. In the rich lexicographical production of missionaries, a great deal of information can be studied about “cultural encounters”.
The First International Conference on Missionary Linguistics
(avec Even Hovdhaugen):
Europe: Universitetet i Oslo, Norway, March, 2003.
The Second International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(avec Cristina Altman):
South America: Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, March, 2004.
The Third International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(avec Gregory James):
Asia: Hong Kong. University of Foreign Studies/ Inter-university Institute of Macau, China, March, 2005.
The Fourth International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(Avec Emilio Ridruejo):
Europe: Universidad de Valladolid, Spain, March 2006.
The Fifth International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(Avec Ramón Arzápalo Marín):
Americas: Universidad Nacional Autónome de México, Mérida, Yucatán, México, March 2007.
Sixth International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(Avec Emi Kishimoto & Masayuki Toyoshima):
Asia: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, Japan, March, 2010.
Seventh International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(Avec Martina Schrader-Kniffki & Klaus Zimmermann).
Europe: Universität Bremen, Germany, February, March, 2012. http://www.fb10.uni-bremen.de/misling2012bremen/
Eighth International Conference on Missionary Linguistics.
(Avec Rodolfo Cerrón-Palomino & Álvaro Ezcurra).
South America: Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. March, 2014. http://departamento.pucp.edu.pe/humanidades/linguistica-y-literatura/novedades-lin/eventos-lin/viii-congreso-internacional-de-linguistica-misionera-sera-en-la-pucp/
Ninth International Conference on Missionary Linguistics
(Avec Joaquín Sueiro Justel (Vigo, Espagne), Marlon Sales (Monash University, Australia, and María Luisa Young (El Ateneo, Manila).
Asia: El Ateneo, Manila. March 2016. http://www.admu.edu.ph/ls/soh/modernlanguages/linguistica-misionera
Tenth International Conference on Missionary Linguistics
(Avec Paolo de Troia).
Europe: Sapienza Università di Roma, Istituto Confucio, co-organizers: Centro Studi Cinesi Urbaniana. Dip Lingue Lett. e Culture Straniere, Roma Tre. March 2018 https://web.uniroma1.it/2018missionarylinguistics/en