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Multilingualism from Alexander to Charlemagne: cross-cultural themes and perspectives (Laurence Seminar 2009)

29–30th May 2009 at the Faculty of Classics

Organizing body: The Classical and Indo-European Linguistics Caucus, Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge (Alex Mullen and Patrick James).

Over the last decade, multilingualism has become a major research focus in the study of the ancient world. Our aim is to take a thematic and interdisciplinary approach to issues raised by the growing number of studies. As we bring together linguistic and archaeological evidence our primary concern will be the implications of language contact for our understanding of multiculturalism from Antiquity and into the Medieval period.


Friday 29th May 2009

Registration: 8.30–11.30

9.30–11.00 [Speakers and chairs only]
Introduction and round-table session on methodology (particularly the practice of interdisciplinarity and the application of modern bilingualism theory to the study of ancient languages)
Alex Mullen (Lumley Research Fellow, Magdalene College, Cambridge)

Issues in the nature and interpretation of evidence for bilingualism
Chair: Pippa Steele

Alderik Blom (Katharine Jex-Blake Fellow in Celtic Studies, Girton College, Cambridge)
‘Multilingualism and ritual language’

Rosanna Sornicola (Professor of Linguistics, Department of Modern Philology, University of Naples Federico II)
'Multilingualism in Sicily and Southern Italy in the Early Middle Ages: issues in the nature and interpretation of the evidence'

Micro and macro-communities and regional variation
Chair: Eleanor Dickey

Oliver Simkin (Research Associate, the Greek Lexicon Project, Faculty of Classics, Cambridge)
‘Language contact in Ancient Spain: direct and indirect evidence’

Trevor Evans (Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Ancient Cultures, Macquarie University, Australia)
‘Complaints of the natives in a Greek dress: the evidence of the Zenon Archive for a Greek-Egyptian micro-community’

The function of languages in multilingual societies
Chair: Patrick James

James Clackson (Senior University Lecturer, Faculty of Classics, Cambridge)
‘Stable and unstable bilingualism’

Andrew Wilson (Professor of the Archaeology of the Roman Empire, School of Archaeology, Oxford)
‘Punic and Latin inscriptions in Roman North Africa: function and display’

Reception: the Museum of Classical Archaeology, Faculty of Classics

Saturday 30th May 2009

Bilingual education and literacy
Chair: Kalle Korhonen

Scott Bucking (Associate Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Studies, DePaul University, Chicago, USA)
‘Archaeology, papyrology, and the study of Greek-Coptic education in late antique Egypt’

Pádraic Moran (Research Officer, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Cambridge)
‘Multilingualism and the Medieval Irish learned tradition’

The linguistic and cultural implications of translation
Chair: Robert Crellin

Coulter George (Assistant Professor of Classics, University of Virginia, USA)
‘Expressions of time in the Septuagint and the New Testament’

David Langslow (Professor of Classics, Department of Classics and Ancient History, Manchester)
‘Typologies of translation techniques in situations of language contact’

Continuity and change in the East and West after 500 AD
Chair: Geoff Horrocks

Bert Vaux (University Lecturer in Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Cambridge)
‘Linguistic manifestations of Greek-Armenian contact in Late Antiquity and Byzantium’

Paul Russell (Reader in Celtic, Department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, Cambridge)
An habes linguam Latinam? Non tam bene sapio: a view from the early-medieval West’

Multilingualism and multiculturalism

Robin Osborne (Professor of Ancient History, Faculty of Classics, Cambridge)
‘Cultures as languages and languages as cultures: reflections from Classical Athens’

Download all the abstracts as a PDF file

This conference has been made possible by the generous funding of the following bodies:



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