Plenary Speakers

Pia Lane

Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies

P.O. Box 1102 Blindern 0317 OSLO Norway


Pia Lane is a senior researcher at MultiLing - Centre for Multilingualism in Society Across the Lifespan (MultiLing) at the University of Oslo.

She has investigated multilingualism from a range of theoretical perspectives, primarily drawing on data from Kven-speaking communities in Northern Norway, but also amongst Finnish-speakers in Canada. Her research addresses language as a part of a larger semiotic system, for instance showing how material objects are used as means for identity construction in a situation of language shift, outlined in the article Identities in action: a nexus analysis of identity construction and language shift. Visual Communication (2009). "We did what we thought was best for our children." A Nexus Analysis of language shift in a Kven community, International Journal of the Sociology of Language (2010) also analyses language shift. Pia Lane has primarily worked within the framework of nexus analysis (developed by Scollon and Scollon) and an introductory article on nexus analysis is to appear in the Handbook of Pragmatics.

Currently, Pia Lane’s main research focus is multilingualism, language policy and discourse analysis, and she is PI of the project Standardising Minority Languages. The project investigates sociopolitical aspects of the standardisation of five European minority languages, with a particular focus on the role of users in these processes and how users accept, resist and reject aspects of standardisation.

Plenary title: ‘Catch me if you can: Minority language standardisation, variation and codification’.

Paul Smolensky

Department of Cognitive Science

Johns Hopkins University


Paul Smolensky has an endowed Professorship at Johns Hopkins University, where he was Chair of Cognitive Science for several years. His research explores the relation between the brain and language, the theory of grammar, and the mind/brain problem in philosophy.  He has published in the top journals in the fields of Cognitive Science, Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Computer Science as well as in Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy Science, USA, and is a widely sought-after keynote and plenary speaker at international conferences in all these fields.

Professor Smolensky revolutionized the field of linguistics in the early 1990’s when he co-developed Optimality Theory, a model of grammar derived from the theory of information processing in the brain. The success of Optimality Theory demonstrates how even highly abstract aspects of the mind like universal grammar can be better understood by incorporating general principles of neuroscience. His ground-breaking work not only enlightens grammatical theory; it also provides a framework for understanding many aspects of language acquisition and language change, providing principled mechanisms for understanding many issues which were once thought to be ‘exceptions’ in more traditional, rule-based systems of grammar. His creativity and vision have been recognized by the following awards:

  • David E. Rumelhart Prize for Outstanding Contributions to the Formal Analysis of Human Cognition
  • Chaire Internationale de Recherche Blaise Pascal (France)
  • Sapir Professorship for Distinguished Scholar, Linguistic Society of America Summer Linguistic Institute
  • Krieger-Eisenhower Chair of Cognitive Science, Johns Hopkins University
  • Fellow, Cognitive Science Society
  • Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship

Isabelle Bril


Langues et civilisations
à tradition orale

Isabelle Bril
Directrice de Recherche
7, rue Guy Moquet
94800 - Villejuif, France
Tel 01 49 58 37 55
Fax 01 49 58 37 79

Isabelle Bril is Senior Researcher (Directrice de Recherche) at the LACITO-CNRS (Laboratoire des Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale) in Paris-Villejuif.

Her research focuses on the syntactic and semantic typology of Austronesian languages from New Caledonia and more recently from Taiwan, investigating Complex Predicates 2004 (Mouton de Gruyter), Reciprocals and Middle 2005 (Linguistic Typology), Coordination & Subordination 2007, 2011, Possession 2012 (OUP), Informational and referential hierarchy 2010 (Benjamins), T.A.M. systems, Number and number marking, etc.

She is now focusing on the morphosyntax of Amis (Formosan), centering on voice, alignment systems and their relation with verbal classes.

Research interests

  • Syntactic typology of Austronesian languages (Taiwan and New Caledonia)
  • Coordination, subordination and dependency relations between propositions
  • Reciprocals and middles
  • Complex predicates
  • Deixis
  • Aspect and modality
  • Information structure and discourse hierarchies (topicalisation and focalisation)