German and Russian Department to Host International Conference

Scholars and teachers from around the world will gather in May to discuss and present research on Germanic languages.

PROVO, Utah (April 27, 2015)—BYU’s Department of German and Russian will host the 21st Germanic Linguistics Annual Conference (GLAC-21) on May 8-9th. GLAC is the annual conference of the Society for Germanic Linguistics, which serves the broad community of scholars teaching and researching in Germanic linguistics, second language acquisition and philology.


This is BYU’s first time hosting the event. Laura Catharine Smith, a German linguistics professor organizing the event remarked that scholars are presenting on an interesting array of topics, such as German (including varieties spoken in Texas and Wisconsin), Dutch, Icelandic, Gothic, language change, second language acquisition and Old and Middle English from the perspective of sound, word and sentence structure. GLAC brings scholars from across the U.S., Canada, Germany, Netherlands, UK, Lithuania, Australia and Japan who will present their research on Germanic linguistics, second language acquisition and pedagogy.

“This really is an international conference,” Smith said.

One of the conference’s plenary speakers is Rolf H. Bremmer from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. “He’s the world’s leader scholar on Frisian, which is argued to be the closest-related language to English,” Smith explained. “Today it’s spoken by fewer than a million people.”

Smith said that a lot of people aren’t aware of just how far reaching the Germanic languages are. “We have the West Germanic languages: English and German and Dutch, Frisian, Yiddish, Low German, and then you get the Scandinavian languages which include Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, Danish, even Faroese. And then you have Gothic, which died out in about the fifth century.” Smith noted that there’s even an expert on Afrikaans presenting at the conference.

The conference covers the structure of language and language change over time within the Germanic languages. Leading up to the conference on Thursday May 7 is a series of pre-conference workshops open to people from all languages: one will examine proficiency in teaching and the other on stats and research.

“If people are more interested in the teaching aspect, they can go and learn a little more about that. If they’re needing help thinking through their stats or research, they can go to those workshops,” Smith said.

For the first time, teachers are also being involved in GLAC. Saturday’s sessions will include papers on topics of interest for teachers as well as the Teaching Expo featuring posters outlining activities, research, and materials for teachers to use the following week to enrich their classroom experience.

For more information on the upcoming conference, visit the GLAC 2015 website.

—Danielle Chelom Leavitt (B.A. Russian ’15)