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"Plurilingualism: between diversity and universality

Since the first European Conference on Plurilingualism and the birth of the EPO in 2005, we have discovered over the years how vast a field plurilingualism is for inter, multi and transdisciplinary research.

With each new edition of the conference, we have sought to revisit the various issues by organising them not on a disciplinary basis, but along four thematic lines: education, economic and social issues, cultural issues, and politics in its two national and international aspects, and we have sought to give priority to a particular point of view in these plural approaches. After Paris and Berlin devoted to the European Charter of Multilingualism, in Rome it was the theme of the border, in Brussels that of creativity and in Bucharest that of sustainable development that were selected and explored.

For the 2022 edition, which will be held in Cadiz, Spain, we want to highlight the deep issues of plurilingualism and the conceptual, cultural, mental, social and territorial fault lines.

Any exercise that consists of reshuffling the deck each time comes up against a double pitfall.

- The first risk is to find oneself unable to embrace everything, and therefore to leave out aspects whose importance is not apparent at first sight.

- The other risk is that of skimming over everything and becoming dispersed in relation to a subject that is too vast.

Our aim will therefore be to refuse the quest for exhaustiveness and to highlight the fundamental issues.
We are not going to list them, only to set out a few avenues.

Let's start with the aspect we think about the least, the philosophical aspect.

Language and language have had a prominent place in philosophy since antiquity.

However, the problem of linguistic diversity appeared with Leibniz, Vico and Humboldt.

Two closely related questions have always been raised: the link between language and the "real world", and the question of universality, which seems to join the "search for the perfect language", which tends to be confused with the single language and therefore monolingualism.

Everything happens as if diversity and universality were necessarily and irreducibly opposed, and diversity and universality being the two extremes of an axis on which one could classify the situations actually observed. And so to come closer to the universal is always on the side of the unity that opposes singularity. Along the same lines, plurilingualism leans towards diversity, while monolingualism is almost the goal to be achieved in the name of the universality to which we aspire.

Putting plurilingualism and linguistic and cultural diversity at the heart of the universal is not at all self-evident.

If the real world is a physical world and a finite world, all languages are supposed to be able to express it, and since all languages say the same thing, only one language is needed to say everything. This is the foundation of monolingualism, with the corollary of war between languages, each language claiming to be the chosen language.

At the opposite end of the spectrum from this viewpoint, we offer readers two quotes.

Firstly, Picasso, who as an artist produced this very philosophical statement: "If there were only one truth, one would not be able to do a hundred paintings on the same theme.

Then Wittgenstein's famous aphorism, taken from the Tractatus: "The limits of my language are the limits of my own world".

Is it appropriate to introduce this debate into the Conference? The question for us is whether it is a critical question and a fundamental issue.

In our opinion, it would not be a critical issue if the way languages and the language question are perceived in today's society were not dependent on a common opinion that is indefensible today in the light of philosophy and science. To revive this debate seems to us to be in keeping with the vocation of the OEP.

Identity is also a crucial issue from the perspective of languages and plurilingualism.

Much work in sociolinguistics cannot succeed unless it is based on sound thinking about individual and collective identity, and parallel thinking about the relationship between languages and cultures. Like identitarianism, linguistic essentialism is incompatible with plurilingualism as an objective and leads to an existential impasse. However, the plurilingual approach makes it possible to address the question of identity in ways that are not possible with the monolingual confinement from which our societies are suffering today.

We are living in a very particular period where the question of identity is becoming generalized on a global scale in sometimes extreme forms and where the only identity that remains largely unthought of is the European identity. A significant place must therefore be reserved for a reflection on European identity, on European culture and cultures.

There are many sensitive issues in education.

Here are some of them.

The first question, which is rarely addressed, is whether language has a place in education. We learn French in France, which is the least we can do, we also learn two or even three foreign languages, we can even learn Latin and ancient Greek as an option, but language as a linguistic fact is outside the scope of education. In the past, when Latin was taught in a more developed way, it was likely to give rise to a metalinguistic knowledge that could be reinvested in the acquisition of French and modern languages, and was an important element of general culture. The question deserves to be asked.

One can rightly be alarmed that the learning of the mother tongue and the language of education has lost its importance and has seen its level drop, which seems today to be an observation that is no longer disputed. But we must also ask ourselves about the content of language teaching. Working on meaning is essential and must be a dimension of plurilingual and intercultural education. Just think of such passionately charged words as "slavery", "secularism", "truth". Are we sure that they have the same meaning from one language to another, from one culture to another, and even within the same language?

Other questions are important but remain unanswered. No European government, and even less the European Commission, condemned to a dead-end in-between, is taking them on.
The lowering of the age at which languages are taught seems to have received unanimous support from governments. But some have drawn the conclusion that language teaching can be stopped or reduced after secondary school, which in fact takes us further away from the objectives of the 2002 Barcelona summit.



 Dates: 9-12 November 2022

Venues: University of Cadiz, Universidad de Cádiz

Address: Universidad de Cádiz

Centro Cultural Reina Sofía

C/ Paseo Carlos III, nº 9

11003, Cadiz


Respond to this call on the dedicated website (in five languages):

Practical information

Oral presentations will be limited to 15 minutes. Presentations in the form of a slide show will be possible.

Abstracts of the proposals (maximum half page or 2000 characters including spaces) must be submitted on the platform before 30 April 2022.

These abstracts will be used for the selection of applications and for the publication of the pre-proposals in the participant's file.

Texts for publication will be produced within one month after the event and submitted on the dedicated website using the article template that can be downloaded from the website.

Catering: not provided

Accommodation: not provided (hotels recommended)

Image rights: the event will be recorded and possibly photographed or filmed. Those who do not wish to be recognised in photographs or videos are asked to inform the organisers.

Registration fees (speakers and participants)

- Online registration required



Until 15 September 2022

After 15 September 2022




Participants, accompanying persons






Masters and PhD students from the University of Cadiz

Free of charge as long as places are available

Free of charge as long as places are available


Speakers are invited to register on the directory of researchers and research teams on plurilingualism and linguistic and cultural diversity set up by the OEP, the POCLANDE network and ACAREF (


The participant's file will include pre-formats with abstracts of the papers.

The proceedings will be available on the OEP website in digital and paper versions, depending on the deadline for the submission of papers by the speakers.

Key dates

Deadline for paper proposals: 30 April 2022

Notifications: 31 May 2022

Publication of the pre-programme: 30 September 2022

Deadline for submission of full papers: 31 December 2022, maximum 10 A5 pages or 20,000 characters including spaces. (see online template)

Language regime

Languages of the conference: French, Spanish, German, English, Italian.

Plenary sessions will be interpreted into French, Spanish and English.

It is strongly recommended that, in the case of slide shows, the slides are in a language other than the language used for oral presentations.


Publication standards: specific section on the conference website


Co-organising partners

University of Cadiz


Organising Committee

José Carlos Herreras, University of Paris

Anne Bui, European Observatory of Plurilingualism

Christos Clairis, University of Paris Descartes

Christian Tremblay, European Observatory for Multilingualism

José María García Martín, University of Cadiz

Nuria Campos Carrasco, University of Cadiz

Maryia Maiseyenka, University of Cadiz

Benito Gutiérrez, University of Cadiz


Scientific Committee

Olga Anokhina, CNRS

Jean-Claude Beacco, Sorbonne Nouvelle University

Christos Clairis, University of Paris Descartes

Jean-Marc Delagneau, University of Le Havre

Jörg Eschenauer, Ecole des Ponts-ParisTech, UPLEGESS

Pierre Frath, University of Reims

José María García Martín, University of Cadiz

José Carlos Herreras, University of Paris

Isabelle Mordellet-Roggenbuck, University of Freiburg

François Rastier, CNRS

Heinz Wismann, EHESS



On a stained glass window by the painter Pierre Zanzucchi

*** Translated with (free version) ***