International Congress: "Crossing the border between Spanish and English: current issues, future perspectives, linguistic and literary insights"

Diana Castilleja's picture
Call for Papers
February 5, 2019 to February 6, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Chicana/o History / Studies, Linguistics, Literature, Mexican History / Studies, Borderlands

This international congress is a joint initiative of the Research Group CROS of the Department of Spanish and Comparative Romance Linguistics at Ghent University (Belgium) and the Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies (Spanish language) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium)


The congress will take place at Het Pand (Ghent, Belgium) on February 5-6, 2019.


Plenary speakers

Linguistics: Kim Potowski (University of Illinois)

Literary Studies: An Van Hecke (KU Leuven, Antwerpen)

Cultural Studies: Silvia Betti (Università di Bologna)



1st Call for papers


The phenomenon of globalization includes an ever-increasing degree of contact between different languages and cultures. This congress wants to study concrete consequences of contact between the Spanish and English languages and cultures in different areas. From a linguistic viewpoint, contact between English and Spanish may occur at various levels among which there are: lexical borrowings, lexical and syntactic calques, and codeswitching. In Spain, there is a growing presence of English in mass media, education etc. and hence an increasing influence of the Anglo-Saxon language and culture. The linguistic outcomes have been the subject of some controversy: some believe that the effect on Spanish syntax and semantics is real, especially among younger generations, whereas others situate the impact mostly at the level of the lexicon (thus lexical borrowings, Stewart 1999). Another particular case in point constitutes what is commonly defined as Spanglish. The continuing migrations of Hispanics towards the North have changed the profile of the US, not only from a cultural, social and economic viewpoint, but also because of the linguistic contact between English and Spanish. Over the last decades, the study of Spanglish has become an increasingly popular topic, although the phenomenon has triggered numerous and, at times, emotionally charged debates involving negative and positive attitudes toward the phenomenon itself, the terminology (‘Spanglish’ versus ‘espanglish’ or ‘popular Spanish of the US’), and its linguistic status (Spanglish as a new language or a dialect). Besides being a communicative practice, for many Latinos it constitutes a part of their multicultural identity. The research group CROS kindly invites interested researchers to present their work relating to the following issues:


1. Spanish in contact with English in Spain

The conference wants to contribute to the ‘measurement’ of the impact of English on Spanish, at various linguistic levels.

  • Is it mostly to be situated in the domain of lexical borrowings, or can concrete cases of impact on Spanish syntax be identified?
  • Can one observe a changing impact, for instance by the analysis of a particular phenomenon through different micro-diachronies?
  • Is it true that the impact is to be situated among adolescents and younger generations?

Although proposals including theoretical reflections and all kinds of concrete topics are accepted, we particularly welcome case studies on syntactic borrowings and calques (e.g. studies on the gerund, prepositional uses, and other constructions which may have changed as a consequence of Spanish-English language contact).


2. Spanish in contact with English in the USA

Spanglish has rightly been treated as a socially, politically and culturally relevant research domain and has been the topic of many sociolinguistic studies. However, much less is known on what really happens in the minds of Spanglish speakers. This workshop wants to provide an interdisciplinary approach to the phenomenon (Rodríguez-González & Parafita Couto 2012), by combining linguistic and literary insights, and within each discipline by integrating different viewpoints. Although proposals including all approaches and topics about Spanglish (or Spanish spoken in the U.S.) are accepted, the following research domains can be defined.


From a linguistic viewpoint, the conference aims at further identifying the characteristics of Spanglish as a unique form of bilingualism, by adopting various perspectives:

  • It particularly welcomes concrete case studies of Spanglish grammar (e.g. on phenomena of word order, discourse markers etc.). These could contribute to the general question of whether the image of linguistic chaos (González Echevarría 1997) can be replaced by the model of Spanglish as a ‘a third linguistic system’, rule-governed and full of remarkable regularities (Betti & Enghels in Press; Silva-Corvalán & Potowski 2009).
  • We also particularly welcome papers that discuss the construction of corpora: What kind of empirical data can be used in order the study the phenomena? As such, the conference ties up with a more general discussion on the value of written data to study phenomena typical of orality. Should written multilingual texts be treated as a discourse genre in its own right and do they constitute a valuable source of information on how bilinguals make advantage of their enriched linguistic system in order to perform and translate highly complex cognitive tasks?
  • It also wants to discuss the main challenges Spanglish is expected to be confronted with in the (near) future given that, more than ever, the identity of its speakers in the USA is at stake.


From a literary point of view, the following research topics can be discussed:

  • How to write a territorialized national identity where notions of homeland, native language (mother tongue), and cultural belongings are affected by the crossing of borders? How does writing attempt to reconfigure the links between the author and his/her origins? How and what else is around the writing of the ambivalent sense of belonging? To do so, some suggested areas and topics of exploration (non-exhaustive) are:
    • Self-experience writing: Autobiography, Autofiction, Testimonial literature.
    • Personal Geographies: Experiencing 'nostos' (return to the homeland), longing for home.
    • Images of nostalgia and in-betweenness.
    • In the search of roots and routes.
    • Borders and Boundaries.
    • Women writing.


We invite the submission of abstracts for full papers. Abstracts for an oral presentation (20 minutes + discussion time) must not exceed 500 words, including references, and should mention the main research question(s), methodology, data and (expected) results. Abstracts will have to be submitted individually and will be reviewed anonymously. Please submit via Easychair through


The conference languages are Spanish and English.



We intend to publish a special journal issue of selected papers from the workshop. More details will be announced in due time.


Important Dates

15.08.2018: Abstract submission deadline

30.09.2018: Notification to authors

30.11.2018: Final program publication

05-06.02.2019: Congress


Contact Info: 

Diana Castilleja (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)

Renata Enghels (Ghent University)

Contact Email: