Project News

Conference “Approaches to Migration, Language and Identity”, 4-6 May 2017 (Université de Lausanne)

The international conference Approaches to migration, language and identity, which will be held at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) from 4-6 May 2017, aims to bring together scholars working on any aspect of migration, language, and identity. This three-day conference offers a forum for researchers working in the fields of politics, geosciences, linguistics, anthropology, economics, sociology, social (economic, legal) history and more to gather together and exchange ideas. Both synchronic and diachronic approaches are welcome.

The conference is motivated by the increasing awareness of the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to the study of migration as well as its implications on language, culture, and identity. As such, we want to facilitate a discussion about how issues related to language, migration, and identity impact people’s lives.

We are pleased to welcome the following scholars as plenary speakers for our conference:

  • Ofélia Garcia, Professor of Urban Education and of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
  • Li Wei, Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Institute of Education, University College London
  • Ben Rogaly, Professor of Human Geography, University of Sussex
  • Naomi Tadmor, Professor of History, Lancaster University

Conference Website:

Report about the Big Data and Bad Data Workshop (2-3 September 2016) by Tobias Leonhardt (Bern)

Lausanne, 2-3 September 2016: Big Data and Bad Data: Challenges of quantitative and qualitative research methods in linguistics – a report by Tobias Leonhardt, University of Bern


This workshop focused on the methodological obstacles that present themselves when working with the increasing amounts of available data in diachronic as well as synchronic linguistics and brought together a small contingent of historical linguists and dialectologists of English varieties. It was highlighted that, besides many crucial differences, there are also many overlaps between the two strands in linguistics, and that therefore, at least to some degree, the methods used in corpus linguistic research are not restricted to those strands. Over two days, ten presentations and three discussion sessions helped further our understanding of not just the work of researchers in the other strand but also that of our own.


In the first block, Susan Fitzmaurice (University of Sheffield), Daisy Smith (University of Edinburgh), Moragh Gordon (Utrecht University), and Yasushi Miyazaki (Kwansei Gakuin University) held their presentations. Among other things, they raised questions as to the definition of what is and what is not a token, whether corpus research requires for a key term to be explicitly mentioned or if it suffices for it to be described, circumscribed or implied. They all reminded us, in different ways, that our linguistic sources, our geographical sites and our more or less known authors and contributors all constitute complex linguistic realities, and they made it apparent that the human component can never be taken away completely but is always a requirement in some ways, regardless of there being more corpora or more sophisticated tools for our analysis. These and other issues were taken up in the open discussion where it was reinforced that our objects of interest (contemporary spoken varieties, written varieties in letters and manuscripts, etc.) must not be confused with the corpora that contain them. Furthermore, using tools for the analyses of corpora that contain our objects of interest requires a lot of sensitivity to all kinds of factors and issues, which renders corpus analysis slower than it might be assumed at first.


The second day was started with presentations by Alexander Bergs (University of Osnabrück), Sarah Grossenbacher (University of Bern), and Tino Oudesluijs (University of Lausanne). From these presentations there emerged a common theme, namely the necessity for human intervention when working with corpus analysis tools, which made for a perfect continuation of the previous day and fed nicely into the subsequent discussions: Search outputs must not be interpreted as representative of linguistic realities, and they must not be confused with results but need manual correction – which can only be undertaken adequately when there is a profound understanding of the structure of the corpora, its compilation methods, and a myriad of other historical and sociolinguistic aspects that contribute to the complex linguistic realities we ultimately (probably) aim to capture and describe.


The last block featured presentations by Daniel Schreier (University of Zurich), Nadine Chariatte (University of Bern), and a joint paper by Tobias Leonhardt, Sara Lynch and Dominique Bürki (University of Bern). It was, once again, demonstrated how a profound understanding of the corpora enables the right questions to be asked and the right methodologies to be chosen in an attempt to answer them. The best results are gained by not forgetting the speakers, communities and histories behind the data they provide, and by being sensitive to individual factors and by identifying the possibilities as well as limitations of our corpora accordingly. This holds true for contemporary speech that can be recorded today as well as the historical data in manuscripts and letters from various archives that survives from decades or even centuries past. The last discussion session, then, was concluded with a more or less open question: Is there bad data at all, or is there only bad scholarship?


Doubtlessly, this workshop has been fruitful and engaging. A big ‘Thank You’ goes out to the organisers, Tino Oudesluijs (University of Lausanne) and Moragh Gordon (Utrecht University), for creating this opportunity and for being wonderful hosts!



“Big data and bad data” workshop registration now open

Registration and call for papers


We are delighted to announce that the registration for the workshop “Big data and bad data: challenges of quantitative and qualitative research methods in linguistics” is now open!

This international workshop will be held at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) on 2-3 September 2016.

The workshop will focus on the empirical basis of linguistic research, particularly on quantitative and qualitative research methods based on empirical data, including the challenges, advantages, shortcomings, complementary value, etc. of a variety of methods for the (theoretical) interpretation of the data. Selected questions that will be addressed during this workshop are as follows: 1. How have recent developments in digital humanities (e.g. large scale digitization of hitherto unknown manuscript material (diachronic) or social media data (synchronic)) affected the way in which we approach data from a linguistic perspective? More specifically, do these developments introduce bad data challenges and/or resolve existing bad data problems? 2. How and in what way could the ‘Big Data’ approach have an effect on our interpretations of language variation and change, and also the role of language standards? 3. What impact will the latter approach have on existing theoretical frameworks? For instance, will it lead to revisions of frameworks such as the social network theory and community of practice, which are used to interpret historical and contemporary data? This workshop is primarily aimed at postgraduate students working in the field of language variation and change (past and present) of any language, but it may be of interest to doctoral students in other fields of linguistics as well.

You can register via CUSO (a Swiss doctoral programme in English language and literature) at[showUid]=2834 (you do not need to be a member of CUSO to register here), or you can send an e-mail to

The workshop, which will be held at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, is aimed at postgraduate students as well as everybody else interested, particularly those working in the field of language variation and change (past and present) of any language.

Call for papers:

Postgraduate students are invited to give a 20-minute talk on an aspect of their research, which can range from a fully-fledged paper to a work-in-progress.

The plenary speakers are Prof. Susan Fitzmaurice (University of Sheffield), Prof. Alexander Bergs (University of Osnabrück) and Prof. Daniel Schreier (University of Zürich).

Pre-announcement: International workshop for postgraduate students on “Big data and bad data: challenges of quantitative and qualitative research methods in linguistics”


On 2-3 September 2016, Tino, Mo and Anita will organise an international workshop entitled “Big data and bad data: challenges of quantitative and qualitative research methods in linguistics”, which will be held at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

The workshop is aimed at postgraduate students, particularly those working in the field of language variation and change (past and present) of any language.

We are happy to announce that the confirmed plenary speakers are Prof. Susan Fitzmaurice (University of Sheffield), Prof. Alexander Bergs (University of Osnabrück) and Prof. Daniel Schreier (University of Zürich).

Details regarding this event will be made available in the near future on this page.​ Save the date!

International Symposium: “Urbanisation in the British Isles: a historical and interdisciplinary perspective” (University of Lausanne, 22-23 April 2016)

The next event linked to our project that will be organised at the University of Lausanne is the following:

An International Symposium “Urbanisation in the British Isles: a historical and interdisciplinary perspective”, to be held on 22-23 April 2016 at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

Details regarding this event, notably call for papers, confirmed plenary speakers, etc. can be found on the conference website.

Attendance of SHEL-9/DSNA-20 conference at UBC, Vancouver

Tino, Mo and Anita have presented the Emerging Standards project at the SHEL-9/DSNA-20 Conference at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver in early June 2015.


New Event: International Interdisciplinary workshop to be held at the University of Lausanne from 7-8 September 2015

We are co-organising an international workshop on “Interdisciplinary perspectives on the North of England in the later Middle Ages”, to be held at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) from 7-8 September 2015, with the SNSF Project ‘Late Medieval Religiosity in England: The Evidence of Late Fourteenth and Fifteenth Century Devotional Compilations’ (Principal Investigator Prof. Denis Renevey).

Details regarding programme and registration can be found on the workshop website.

Workshop on conducting sociolinguistic research on Englishes near and far By Tino Oudesluijs

Sociolinguistic and dialectological fieldwork can be a time-consuming and exhausting enterprise. It can nevertheless also be immensely rewarding, since it usually allows the researcher to collect previously unrecorded data, the analyses of which can result in new linguistic hypotheses. To date, it is, however, an underexposed part of the research process in the sociolinguistic literature. For this reason, Prof. dr. David Britain, together with Dr. Susan Fox, Tobias Leonhardt and Dominique Bürki (all from the University of Bern), organised a workshop to introduce the participants to this fundamental aspect of sociolinguistic research. Prof. Kazuko Matsumoto (University of Tokyo), Prof. Daniel Schreier (University of Zürich), Dr. Andrea Sudbury (University of London) and PhD student Nicole Eberle (University of Zürich) were invited to come to Schloss Münchenwiler and share some of their first-hand experience with the participants.

The workshop lasted three days, starting on Friday at 13:00 and finishing on Sunday at lunchtime. This enabled the invited speakers not only to present their research and experience during lectures but also to lead interactive seminars in which everyone was encouraged to discuss the different aspects of sociolinguistic research. Finally, all participants were asked to present their own research, which gave everyone the possibility to obtain feedback from both the other participants as well as the experienced researchers.

On Friday, after a short introduction by Prof. David Britain, Dr. Andrea Sudbury, who went to the Falkland Islands, and Prof. Kazuko Matsumoto, who went to Micronesia, were the first to discuss the many difficulties researchers face when doing sociolinguistic fieldwork. Both revealed that whereas certain problems that researchers face are often of a similar origin, the approaches to such problems can differ greatly depending on the cultural and sometimes even climatological differences. At the end of the afternoon, five of the doctoral participants presented their own research, most of which was still in its early stages. As one of the participants, I found this a most profitable endeavour since all of the experts were able to give useful feedback and tips, and most of the doctoral students were introduced to different topics and approaches in the field.

On Saturday morning, Dr. Andrea Sudbury led an interactive workshop in which she asked all participants to think about and subsequently discuss the different topics discussed on Friday, stressing the practical aspect of getting to know the people you intend to interview for your research as well as their culture. As was the case the day before, everyone could have done with much more time to discuss every possible aspect of the field, and, unsurprisingly, both the coffee and lunch breaks were used well to continue many discussions. Prof. Daniel Schreier from the University of Zürich, who presented other possible solutions to many earlier discussed problems, concluded the morning session, and after the lunch break, the remaining doctoral students presented their research. The day was concluded with a guided tour through the lovely city of Murten, and, as was the case on Friday, a most delicious dinner was offered back at the Schloss in Münchenwiler. Sunday morning consisted of another interactive seminar, which was hosted by Prof. Kazuko Matsumoto, and a talk by Nicole Eberle from the University of Zürich. Both speakers offered, once again, some new insights into the practical aspects of sociolinguistic research.

The speakers at the workshop successfully managed to present, highlight, question and discuss the many different practical aspects of carrying out sociolinguistic fieldwork. Many relevant insights and methodologies were offered to all the doctoral students who participated, notably also to students who work in different research fields.

On behalf of all the participants, I wish to thank the organisers once again for such an interesting and, most of all, extremely useful workshop.