Conference: CLS 57

The Chicago Linguistic Society is the oldest student-run linguistics organization in the United States. Our linguistics conference has been held almost every year since 1965. This academic year, CLS will host its 57th annual meeting, which will be held from Thursday, May 6, to Saturday, May 8, 2021. CLS 57 is going virtual. All talks, posters, and social events will be hosted on an online platform. Stay tuned for more info!

Conference website:

Invited Speakers

CLS 56 Online Repository: Papers accepted to CLS 56 are now being hosted on an online repository which can be found here. If you are the author of a paper accepted to CLS 56 and would like your presentation materials posted to this repository, please contact the CLS56 committee by September 1, 2020.


  • Brianna Wilson (she/her)
  • Saulé Tuganbaeva (she/her)
  • Steven Castro (he/him)
  • Akshay Aitha (he/him)
  • Aurora Martinez Del Rio (she/her)

Call for papers

The Chicago Linguistic Society invites abstracts in any area of current research on the human language faculty, to include but not limited to syntax, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, phonology, phonetics, and all relevant interfaces and allied fields in cognitive/social sciences. We particularly encourage submissions relevant to this year’s proposed special sessions, detailed below.

Presenters will be given 20 minutes for presentation followed by a 10-minute question period. Presented papers will be published in the CLS proceedings. This year’s conference features a poster session; those presenting a poster may be chosen as alternates for talks, and poster presentations will be published as regular papers in the proceedings.

Abstract Guidelines

So that we may evaluate all submissions in a fair and equal manner, abstracts which fail to adhere to any of the following guidelines will be automatically rejected. Abstracts will be evaluated under a two-tiered system involving both external and internal reviewers.

  1. Submit your abstract(s) in PDF format with filename PaperTitle.pdf (e.g., Prosodic_Form_and_Discourse_Function.pdf).
  2. Include paper title and keywords (i.e., CLS session title, linguistic subfield(s), language(s)/ language family) in the abstract.
  3. Limit abstracts to two letter-sized or A4 pages in length, inclusive of data and references. Use one-inch margins and a font size no smaller than 11 point. Incorporate data into the main text of the abstract, not on a separate page.
  4. Anonymize submissions by not including author name(s) in the abstract or filename. If necessary, remove author name(s) from the document properties of the PDF file.
  5. Use the Easychair platform for the submission of abstracts.
  6. Restrict submissions to one individual and one joint abstract per author, or two joint abstracts per author.

Important Dates:

  • Extended submission deadline: January 15, 2021 by 11:59 PM CST
  • Notification: February 24, 2021
  • Conference dates: May 6 to May 8, 2021

Special Sessions:

Languages of South Asia

South Asia, home to four language families (Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, Munda), a number of isolates, and roughly eight hundred total languages, is one of the most linguistically diverse regions in the world. Most (if not all) of these languages are severely understudied within linguistics, and about a fourth have been classified as in danger of extinction. We welcome submissions relating to any language of this region, including both work done with speakers from South Asia and with those from diasporic communities. Submissions relating to minority, endangered, or understudied languages in this region are especially welcomed. We also especially welcome submissions from native or heritage speaker scholars working on their languages.

Sign Linguistics

Research in sign language linguistics allows us to examine the effects that differences in modality, whether in the auditory or visual channel, may have on linguistic structure. This greatly informs our understanding of language, regardless of modality, as well as how modality may influence both the production and perception of language. We welcome papers that approach sign language research from a variety of directions, including, but not limited to, corpus, computational and psycholinguistics. We are also interested in cross-linguistic and cross-modal investigations, encompassing both experimental and formal methodologies.

Language Documentation and Revitalization

Language documentation as a subfield is dedicated to describing, collecting, archiving, and documenting the various languages that are spoken and signed by people around the world. Within this subfield emphasis is placed on endangered languages or understudied languages, those with few speakers left or those where little to no information has been collected. Several factors such as discrimination, oppression, linguistic supremacy, and voluntary and involuntary language shift have led to the endangerment of languages and their communities. Language documentation opens the door for a wide variety of additional research by providing the information and data of these languages in context provided by native speakers. Language documentation also aids the battle for revitalization which helps to give the languages of minoritized speech communities a stronger foothold. Language documentation and revitalization allows linguists to acknowledge the past that the field has had and move towards documentation and revitalization work that promotes community involvement and places importance on the languages of those communities. With 2022-2032 representing the decade of indigenous languages there is increased need and focus on studying endangered and understudied languages.

Language and Race

The concept of race has been central to much work in the field of linguistics. Not only is the concept of race dynamic and ever-changing in how it manifests in reality, race has also been theorized in different ways throughout the course of scholarly work in linguistics. Early work attempted to classify a dialect using a one-to-one correspondence between a set of features and a racial group, but later work has looked at how individuals use a fluid set of linguistic features to index their racial identity. This work has also encouraged an examination of the shortcomings of work in linguistics, which has not always theorized race with the nuance it has received in neighboring fields. Research on race and language has included investigation of raciolinguistic ideologies, discursive practices of whiteness, and how phonetic and morphosyntactic features are used in identity construction. Research on linguistic discrimination has shed light on how perceptions of racialized varieties affect education, law, employment, and housing. We welcome work from any subfield of linguistics on the intersection of race and language as it pertains to any racial group both within and outside the United States.


Phi-features (typically a term referring to person, number, and gender features) are relevant to many subdomains of formal linguistics – in order to understand the phenomena of agreement, concord, DP structure, the Person Case Constraint, and more, a robust theory of phi-features and their interactions with morphology, syntax, and semantics is required. Such a theory would need to account for typological patterns in the exponence of phi-features as well as the internal structure of the features themselves. We welcome submissions on this topic in relation to any language or language family, in any theoretical framework and using any methodological approach.


Grammaticalization is a process of language change in which lexical items develop into functional items or when functional items develop into even more highly grammaticized forms. It often involves semantic changes (increased generality, loss of lexical specificity), phonetic reduction, increased frequency of use, and changes in syntactic distribution and morphosyntactic properties. Most grammaticalization happens upwards, where a lexical head merged lower in an extended projection is reanalyzed as associated with a grammatical meaning higher up in the clause, but there are also less common instances of lateral and downward grammaticalization. Cross-linguistically, there are common unidirectional pathways of shift from specific lexical items to specific types of functional items, but it is less well-understood exactly how and why these particular changes occur. We welcome work on grammaticalization from all perspectives, encouraging work that expands our understanding of the breadth of factors that influence and constrain grammaticalization.


For this special topic, we welcome research at the intersection of syntax and sociolinguistics, such as how discourse context, pragmatics, social meaning, and speaker identity influence morphosyntactic variation. Phonetic variation has largely been at the center of variationist work in sociolinguistics, but morphosyntactic and semantic variation can also be the locus for social meaning. Work on morphosyntactic variables is uniquely faced with the intertwining of possible differences in denotational meaning with differences in social meaning. From the perspective of formal syntax, while a central goal has been to account for variation, generative approaches have often been limited by their narrow focus on solely formal features or parameters. Thus, sociosyntax also expands the reach of syntax to examine how formal features may interact with social meaning, identity construction, and stylistic practice.

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