1st Call for papers

African languages for sustainable societies and knowledge creation

Language plays a vital role in our societies that are more and more shaped by communication and information, and Africa is no exception. As languages provide the framework for interpreting the world, African languages can contribute tremendously to our understanding of how people communicate and how language structures this interaction. Only by using African languages in all spheres of social life in African societies does communication become inclusive and information truly accessible to all and lead to reducing  inequality and establishing  sustainable societies. African linguistics has a key role to play in helping to bring this about.
We invite contributions on all African languages including sign languages; synchronic and diachronic studies, literatures in African languages; all subdisciplines of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, psycholinguistics, language planning and policy, language documentation; and applied and educational linguistics.

Program organisation

We envisage 5 plenary speakers, followed by pitches for posters, and 8-10 parallel sessions. Presentations will be 20 minutes long followed by 5 minutes discussion and 5 minutes for changing rooms. Poster sessions will take place during lunch and coffee/tea breaks. We select abstracts to accommodate maximally 400 papers.

The papers will be organised as much as possible in logical sessions so as to make all fields of African linguistics visible.

We are open to suggestions for proposals for workshops during, before or after WOCAL. Please contact the organisers before July 30th, 2020. Currently workshops on Tone, Sign languages, Bantu universals and variation, Pragmatics, and Technologies for Enhanced Documentation of African Languages have been suggested. We hope that workshops will attract separate funding to allow participants from Africa to attend WOCAL.

We are looking into options for on-line streaming and on-line presentations for those who cannot be physically present.

Conference dates

Conference: June 8, 9, 10, 11 2021
Arrival and registration: June 7
After WOCAL social events: June 12

Submission deadlines

Workshop proposal: Due July 30th, 2020
Abstract: Due November 30th, 2020
Notification of acceptance: January 31st, 2021


Conference fees (early bird before 1st March 2021). Details for payment will be announced soon.

General160 EUR(early bird 140)
(PhD) Students80 EUR(early bird 70)
Participants from economically challenged countries80 EUR(early bird 70)

Congress Language

The Leiden WOCAL10 congress languages are English and French. We will try to arrange interpreters for presentations in International Sign, ASL, LFS, to English and vice-versa.

Abstract submission guidelines

All abstracts should be submitted via easychair https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=wocal10

Individuals can choose to propose abstracts for contributions in one of the following categories:
(i) Oral/ signed paper presentation
(ii) Poster presentations (Authors of posters selected will give 2-minute pitches about their posters at plenary sessions before poster viewing.) 

Please indicate your preference for paper or poster in the keywords field of your abstract submission.  

Written abstracts should be a maximum of 300 words. Abstracts may also be submitted in International Sign, ASL or LFS in a video no longer than 5 minutes; see this page for further instructions for the submission process.

Due to heavy competition for slots in the WOCAL10 programme no one individual can be considered for more than one contribution for which they are a first (or sole) author.


Faculty of Humanities, Lipsius Building, Leiden University

Local organising and scientific committee

to be contacted at call@hum.leidenuniv.nl
(in alphabetical order, affiliation is Leiden University, unless other affiliation is mentioned. The Leiden University members are affiliated to the research units of Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Leiden University Centre for the Arts and Society (LUCAS), and the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL).

Enoch Aboh, University of Amsterdam
Felix Ameka
Azeb Amha
Mark Dingemanse, Radboud University Nijmegen
Manolis Fragkiadakis
Richard Griscom
Timothy Hadjah
Andrew Harvey
Elisabeth Kerr
Maarten Kossmann
Zhen Li
Hope Morgan
Marta Morgado
Maarten Mous (chair)
Victoria Nyst
Sara Petrollino
Bert van Pinxteren
Saskia van Putten, Radboud University Nijmegen
Annachiara Raia
Christian Rapold
Thilo Schadeberg
Heleen Smits
Ahmed Sosal
Mariana Sousa da Silva Martins
Lisa van der Mark
César Valenzuela Léon
Jenneke van der Wal