2 December 2022

Multilingual worlds – neglected histories. Uncovering their emergence, continuity and loss in past and present societies (MULTILING-HIST)

External link

ERC Consolidator Grant

Grant agreement ID: 101002696

Start date: 1 March 2022

End date: 28 February 2027

Principal Investigator: prof. Justyna Olko

Partner Institutions: MPI-EVA & Cape Town University

The project addresses the complex, multi-level dimensions of historical and contemporary multilingualism:

(1) the presence of individual multilingualism in local and regional settings;

(2) the characteristics and dynamics of such multilingual settings, in other words, societal multilingualism. The fundamental aim of the project is to reconstruct, explain and better understand the mechanisms and causality of the processes behind the emergence, continuity, reduction and loss (as well as possible re-emergence) of multilingualism in differing historical, geographical, social, political and cultural contexts. These goals address not only essential gaps in the state of knowledge, but also significant questions about the past and the present of human development.

The project embraces historical and contemporary multilingual milieux from four regions relevant for understanding the causal frameworks underlying multilingual trajectories: selected historical multilingual hotspots from Central-Eastern Europe, Mesoamerica, South Africa and the Archipelago of Vanuatu. They represent a diversity of pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial contexts, ensuring a meaningful comparison. The case studies also offer a novel possibility to study the ‘invisibility’ of multilingualism and uncover its neglected history(ies).
A multidisciplinary approach combines in novel ways historical and present data, qualitative and quantitative methods as well as mathematical modeling, data-driven mapping and GIS mapping. Its expected results will provide informed diagnoses and predictions with huge potential for improving existing language policies and educational strategies oriented toward the preservation of linguistic-cultural diversity and sustainable multilingualism.


Europa, Ameryka Północna, Vanuatu i Kaszuby – o wielojęzyczności w Naja Szkòła w Wejherowie


Search Publications Skip to content