Third Call for Papers: Languages and the First World War II Conference, 10-12 September 2018

Context of the conference

Following a successful first international conference on Languages and the First World War (University of Antwerp and the British Library, June 2014), two successful books of essays (Palgrave-MacMillan), and the following that has been built up (@LanguagesFWW and the blog), the organisers are pleased to announce the second Languages and the First World War conference for 10 and 12 September 2018.

The 2018 conference will be held at Europe House, Westminster (10 September) and at KU Leuven Belgium (Brussels campus, 12 September).

The 2014 conference opened up to an international audience the idea of approaching the conflict from a linguistic viewpoint; while we imagined this falling into two main areas – developments within languages, and influences between languages – the papers delivered and subsequent essays in the volumes widened the scope considerably, to include the rise of interpreting as a profession, the ideas of reticence and withheld communication in soldiers’ letters, the role of soldiers’ publications in the management of dialect, the racial, ethnic, gender and political dynamics of languages, dialects and rhetorics, and the collecting of linguistic data during and after the war.

Flags Fr

Scope of the conference

The 2018 conference will broaden the scope of the subject of languages and the First World War. While 2018 as the final centennial year suggests a concentration on the end of the war, Languages and the First World War II also aims to extend the subject area into the aftermath of the war. Also, the period 2014-2018 has given the opportunity for much in-depth exploration of topics that have arisen from the wealth of conferences, books, papers, symposiums and the opening up of archives and collections.

We would therefore welcome abstract submissions from academic researchers as well as from educational practitioners, museum and archive staff, heritage organisations and non-profit organisations and associations (including cultural, youth, local history).


Possible topics

Papers are invited that

  1. Discuss the causes, progress and aftermath of the war from a language point of view.
  2. Explore less discussed physical territories with complicated geo-political wartime and aftermath shifts.
  3. Analyse the many interpretations of language in place.

Causes, progress and aftermath of the war from a linguistic point of view include, but not exclusively, dialect, slang, swearing, officialese, the language of mourning, the language of international post-war negotiation, interpreting, multilinguism, propaganda, popular media, correspondence, graffiti, non-verbal communication systems, the language of regimental diaries, memoirs and phrasebooks, all will be considered.

We would particularly welcome contributions on specific languages relating to geo-political complexities. These include Balkan languages, Turkish, Russian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Greek, Portuguese, Arabic, Indian languages, African languages, Chinese, and Japanese.

The First World War created many linguistic interpretations. These include the linguistic aspects of treaties such as the Versailles Conference; and the rhetorics of resettlement, avoidance, resentment, occupation, reconciliation, pilgrimages, battlefield guides, commemorations and memories. There are also languages and shifts in language use in relation to racial orientiation and the deliberate absence of languages, the omission of the other.

Papers can easily be cross-disciplinary, but within a context of monolingualism or multilingualism. In that respect, cross-cultural mediation and translation can be seen as a means for ideologies of acculturation or isolation.

Porte-Bonheur pc

Panels and posters

The organisers are equally interested in proposals for panels. PhD students are invited to submit posters for a poster session during the lunch break.

As with the first conference the organisers aim to publish at least one volume stemming from conference contributions. The first conference papers were published by Palgrave-MacMillan, who have expressed interest in publishing further texts.

Keynote speakers

Associate Professor Amanda Laugesen, Director of the Australian National Dictionary Centre

Professor Marguerite Helmers, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

Scientific committee

Our scientific panel comprises:

  • Marnix Beyen, University of Antwerp
  • Elke Brems, University of Leuven
  • Peter Doyle, London Southbank University
  • Hilary Footitt, Uinversity of Reading
  • Jane Potter, Oxford Brookes University
  • Jonathon Robinson, British Library
  • Katya Rogatchevskaya, British Library
  • Professor Odile Roynette, Université de Franch-Comté
  • Tamara Scheer, University of Vienna
  • Tom Toremans, University of Leuven
  • Luc Vandeweyer, Rijksarchief Brussels
  • Antoon Vrints, University of Ghent


sign language

Abstracts and proposals for panels or posters

Abstracts of 250 words to be sent to by 21 March, 2018.

Please make sure you refer to the preferred location for your paper (London OR Brussels), or that you are able to attend both legs.

Confirmation of acceptance: 30 March, 2018.



The conference organisers have applied for funding and support so that students (BA, MA and PhD) can attend the conference for free.

Further funding has been requested in Belgium so that a limited number of Belgian PhD students can attend the London leg.

For interest or further questions, please contact Languages and the First World War at


2,6,1,d 3x Black cat

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: