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Multilingual and Multicultural Communication


The last 50 years or so has seen a variety of interdependent processes associated with globalization, including greater geographical, demographic, social and information exchange and mobility, leading to an exponential increase in contacts and communication between cultures and languages. As a result many more people, especially in large urban areas are affected daily by intercultural and multilingual contacts. This is particularly the case in large urban environments around the world where the presence of speakers of hundreds of languages is not unusual. For example, a recent article in The Economist (10/9/2011) claimed that New York City had nearly as many languages (800) as Papua New Guinea, the country often regarded as home to the highest number of languages (according to Ethnologue, around 830). London is reputedly home to several hundred languages.

Recent research, including that by MERCATOR (The Fryske Akademy, The Netherlands) an independent European Research Centre for Multilingualism, has begun to acknowledge multilingual communication as a norm worldwide, with an increasing amount of research being focused on the complexities underlying multilingualism in individual, developmental, and societal perspectives. With this proposal, which is a joint enterprise of MERCATOR, the School of Oriential and Asian Studies (University of London), the ICA-affiliated International Association of Language and Social Psychology, and the ICA Intergroup Communication Interest Group, we aim to explore some of these recent trends from an interdisciplinary perspective with insights from sociolinguistics, sociology, social psychology and communication theory. Prominent researchers* in these different fields will be invited over the course of the day from the UK, Europe and elsewhere to not only present their own work, but also to be part of a roundtable at the end of the day that aims to begin the process of integrating interdisciplinary insights towards a testable model of multilingual communication.

*Cor van der Meer & Reinier Salverda (Netherlands), Francois Grin (Switzerland), Jean Marc Dewale (UK), Lid King & Dina Mehmedbegovic (UK), Li Wei (UK), Rupert Brown (UK), Anne Pauwels (UK), & Howard Giles (USA) & Itesh Sachdev (UK)

Estimated Attendance



There has recently been an exponential increase in daily multilingual contacts in urban environments around the world; London is home to serveral hundred languages. Prominent researchers in this field will not only present their own work, but also roundtable with a view to crafting a testable interdisciplinary model of multilingual communication


SOAS, University of London, the location for this Preconference, was founded in 1916 and is based in central London. It has an unparalleled history in offering the highest quality resources, knowledge and research in the widest range of cultures and languages of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, covering not only the languages, but also their literatures, arts, cultures, societies, histories, religions and legal systems. SOAS has a long history of responding to the needs of individuals, commerce, industry, government, non-government and other public organisations (including EU and other international organisations).

Additional Information

The Program is of confirmed speakers and draft program is:

8.15 – 9.00 am Registration
9.00 – 9. 15 am Introduction and Welcome
9.15 – 10.00 am Europe & Multilingualism (provisional title)
Cor van der Meer & Reinier Salverda
MERCATOR, Fryske Akademy, The Netherlands

10.00 – 10.45 am Economics of Multilingual Communication (provisional title)
François Grin
Université de Genève, Switzerland

10.45 – 11.15 am Tea/Coffee/Refreshments
11.15 – 12 noon Gender & Multilingual Communication (provisional title)
Anne Pauwels
(School of Oriental & African Studies, University of London, UK

12 noon – 12.45 pm Communicating emotions in multiple languages
Jean Marc Dewaele
Birkbeck, University of London, UK

12.45 – 2 pm Lunch
2 – 2.45 pm Multilingual diversity in London (provisional)
Lid King & Dina Mehmedbegovic
The Languages Company, UK; & Institute of Education, University of London, UK

2.45 – 3.30 pm Diasporas: Multilingual and intercultural communication across time and space
Li Wei
Birkbeck, University of London, UK

3.30 – 4 pm Tea/coffee/refreshments
4 – 4.45 pm Acculturation (provisional title)
Rupert Brown
University of Sussex, UK

4.45 – 5.30 pm Round Table: Modelling Multilingual & Multicultural Communication
Chairs: Howard Giles & Itesh Sachdev
UCSB, USA; & SOAS, University of London, UK

5.30pm Reception

Howard Giles,; U of California – Santa Barbara (Session Organizer)
Please register at:

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Dear Colleagues
I just wanted to draw you attention to a new book edited by Howard Giles and myself that recognises the scholarly contribution of Emeritus Professor Cindy Gallois to the field of language attitudes. As many of you will know, Cindy was an IALSP past President and in 2012 the Association recognised her support of IALSP and her academic achievements by awarding her the title of IALSP Fellow. Please see promotional flyer for more about the book and its contents
Best wishes
IALSP President

social meaning of language flyer

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At ICLASP13: 2012 Professor John Edwards received the Robert Gardner Award.  Below is John’s acceptance of this award. For those who do not know, this biennial award recognises the pioneer work and outstanding contribution of Robert C. Gardner, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario and Fellow of the Canadian Psychological Association. Robert Gardner’s work on the social psychology of second language acquisition and communication is seminal in establishing the field of language and social psychology.

The award is intended for individuals who have a record of sustained, outstanding, and currently active research on topics related to second/foreign language acquisition, or on related issues such as ethnic relations, intergroup communication and acculturation, ethnic stereotypes and bilingualism. Competition is open to researchers working in any of these fields. Successful candidates should have obtained their doctorate and achieved a very superior level of accomplishment in their research endeavours for their career level. Awardees are invited to participate in an Awards Plenary Session at the following International Conference on Language and Social Psychology. Awardees are also given a small monetary prize to offset the price of attending the conference and the conference fee is waived for the following ICLASP conference.

Nominating letters must include evidence of candidate’s longstanding scholarly contribution in the area of second/foreign language acquisition or on related issues such as ethnic relations, intergroup communication and acculturation, ethnic stereotypes and bilingualism.

Previous Award Recipients:

  • 2000 – Kim A. Noels, University of Alberta, Edmonton
  • 2002 – Richard Clément, University of Ottawa
  • 2004 – Peter MacIntyre, Cape Breton University
  • 2008 – Richard Bourhis, University of Quebec, Montreal
  • 2010 – Itesh Sachdev, University of London

John’s Acceptance letter

I was delighted to be given the Robert Gardner award for 2012 – for both obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.  Of course it is always gratifying to have one’s work recognised by one’s closest colleagues, to have a tangible endorsement of many years of scholarly activity.  Less obviously, receiving the award evoked a great many pleasant memories and thoughts.  While I was an undergraduate at the University of Western Ontario, I never knew – nor had a course from – Bob Gardner.  As a postgrad at McGill, however, I soon became aware of the London-Montréal axis, an emerging network of language scholars that involved Bob, Wally Lambert, Don Taylor, John Macnamara, Fred Genesee, Josiane Hamers, and – as a visitor in 1970 or 1971 – Howard Giles.  Folded a bit later into this exciting academic mix were Richard Bourhis, Richard Clément and others.  The network crossed the Atlantic, and has since expanded much further, of course.   I don’t think it is inaccurate to see it as a growing family, one in which Bob Gardner was a member of the first generation – and one in which the award given to me in his name reflects my own membership in a very satisfying way.

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Dear colleagues,

During my term as IALSP President (which came to an end in June, 2012), we organised ICLASP 13 and set in motion various other projects, seminars, conferences and partnerships (taskforces, links and symposia with/at other associations). I am indebted to the many active voluntary IALSPers and others who made all this happen – thank you.  I especially want to thank all the outgoing IALSP Executive members who helped me accomplish my tasks efficiently, with great support (personal  and organisational) and great humour and panache throughout – they kept  IALSP and me on track diligently and with ease. The monthly virtual Executive meetings, spanning continents and time-zones were very productive and great fun, engendering a strong sense of a vital academic community. 

It was so wonderful to see so many of you for ICLASP 13 in Leeuwarden – thank you for coming.  Nearly 200 people attended the conference characterised by stimulating keynotes, symposia, individual paper presentations and discussion in a warm and convivial atmosphere.  A diverse array of social events included a gracious and generous reception hosted by the Mayor of Leeuwarden,  the conference dinner, and  cycling and walking tours (including a ‘smiley’ tour), aimed to actively engage with the contexts and flavours that are distinctive to Frsylan and the Netherlands.  There were many different “firsts” ranging from, first time visitors to Fryslan;  to those attending and presenting for the first- time-ever, including at an ICLASP; through a YouTube greeting by John Edwards, the recipient of the 2012 Robert Gardner Award; to the election of two IALSP Fellows – Cindy Gallois and Sik Hung Ng.  Not only were the presentations and events dynamic, but for the first time ever even the setting for our sessions was mobile! The Presidential Address,  our Annual General Meeting and a session were delivered/conducted over several hours while gently floating through Frisian lakes on a large boat-full of  ICLASPERs.   A lovely visual record of ICLASP 13 in the form of photos has been posted on the MERCATOR website at:

Perhaps one of the most significant ‘firsts’ was to have had such an active official partner in the design, organisation, hosting and implementation of our bi-annual conference: MERCATOR and the FRSYKE AKADEMY.  I would like to thank all members of the team at MERCATOR, led by our conference co-Chair, Dr Cor van der Meer,  for their great efforts  in making this a most successful conference. They worked very hard, were always warm, welcoming and fun.. many many tige tank! (‘thank you’ in Frisian).

Finally, I thank and welcome new members and look forward to working on the many exciting plans and opportunities with members of the new Executive led by our new President, Bernadette Watson.   

Warmest regards to all

Itesh Sachdev, 14.10.2012, (Past/Ex-President, IALSP)

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At the Singapore Art Museum, I had the good fortune of viewing some of the original works of Master Wu Guanzhong (吳冠中).  His oil painting 又見風箏(Seeing the Kites Again)captivated me. And there I sat in front of it for the good part of an hour, with my wife and in the company of a handful of visitors. Betwixt dream and wakefulness, I turned myself into a kite, soaring with the current, scouting around, looking back, and pondering ahead. The wind around the kite kept reminding me of my helplessness. I would certainly drop except for the mysterious power of the wind, freely available to whoever was willing to accept. Enlightened, I rediscovered the ancient awesome tree; a living testimony to what nature has been and is. In my wakefulness, I hastened to recollect my impressions, strung them into words, and committed the propositions to memory.

Months later, I stumbled on the Kites in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre complex. It was a replica truthful in every respect that counted. I laid my hands on it and headed home.

On the occasion of my retirement, I put pen to paper and scribbled down my thought as they came to mind. Let them be a tribute to my dear ones in various parts of the world –my family and friends, colleagues and students, fellow pilgrims. May God bless you all.

Ng Sik-hung, FRSNZ

Chair Professor of Social Psychology (2000-2012)

City University of Hong Kong

Celebration of Professor Sik Hung Ng’s retirement