Heritage Languages and Multilingualism conference (HELM)

IMPORTANT UPDATE! Despite our enthusiasm for the scheduled HELM conference, the current ongoing measures related to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) have led to the difficult decision about postponing the conference. Following statements by officials, there is clear uncertainty about the future of the situation, which can disrupt the possibility for travelling for a long time and forces us to proceed with extreme vigilance on the matter.

We will be announcing information related to a new date when the situation has improved, and it is safe to travel to Cyprus. For now, we thank the invited speakers for committing to present their work, the reviewers for showing interest in reviewing the submitted abstracts and the authors for submitting their abstracts for this conference. We will notify you when there are new updates.


We are pleased to announce the International Conference on Heritage Languages and Multilingualism (HELM), which will take place at Cyprus University of Technology in Limassol on June 5–6, 2020. TheHELMconference will create an opportunity for scholars, students, and educators interested in sharing their knowledge and expertise in the field of heritage languages, language acquisition, multilingualism, and grammar. The conference is funded by the University of Cyprus internal grant entitled The Gradience of Lingualities (GoL): Language Acquisition in Minority Contexts, Incomplete Linguistic Competence and Theoretical Modeling in Heritage Speakers, and Vernacular Varieties (PI: Kleanthes K. Grohmann).

Heritage languages, especially in minority contexts and endangered languages, have attracted the interest of those working on multilingualism, bilingualism, and language acquisition as well as language policy makers. Some of the common questions raised in this research are the exposure and influence on a particular population by a dominant language, the age of exposure to input from the dominant language, the grammar properties affected by it, and the overall competence of the heritage language population when compared to baseline speakers, i.e. native speakers of the same language (Polinsky 2018). Heritage languages also raise interesting questions when compared to multilingual societies where the dynamics between languages define them as standard and non-standard. Data from multilingual speakers are important since they involve grammars that often interact in interesting ways that a theory of possible mental grammars needs to incorporate (Scontras et al. 2015). The need for identifying the linguistic properties that characterize heritage language speakers in multilingual societies within a broader concept of ‘comparative lingualities’ (Grohmann & Kambanaros 2016) explains the focus that is placed on heritage languages, their recognition, and preservation for the advancement of linguistic theory.


Grohmann, Kleanthes K. & Maria Kambanaros. 2016. The gradience of multilingualism in typical and impaired language development: Positioning bilectalism within comparative bilingualism. Frontiers in Psychology 7, https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00037.

Polinsky, Maria. 2018. Heritage Languages and Their Speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Scontras, Gregory, Zuzanna Fuchs, & Maria Polinsky. 2015. Heritage language and linguistic theory. Frontiers in Psychology 6, https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01545.

We welcome submissions related to HELM at large, including any of the following topics:

  1. What are common grammar properties across heritage languages?
  2. Can we develop diagnostics for heritage language speakers?
  3. How do heritage language differ or look similar to other contexts of multilingualism?
  4. What is the role of input in heritage language acquisition?
  5. How does language contact affect heritage language development?
  6. What are the research methods that best apply in heritage language study?
  7. How do language policies or identity interact with heritage language development?

Invited Speakers:

Maria Polinsky (University of Maryland)

Artemis Alexiadou (Humboldt University of Berlin)

Maria Kambanaros (Cyprus University of Technology)

Svetlana Karpava (University of Cyprus)

Organizing Committee

Kleanthes K. Grohmann (University of Cyprus)

Natalia Pavlou (University of Cyprus)