A New Year for the Celtic Students Sociolinguistics Network

Dia daoibh, a chairde, agus athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir. As I reflect on 2023, one of the academic highlights that jumps out to me is the creation of the Celtic Students Sociolinguistics Network. The Network was formed back in May, shortly after the Celtic Students Conference in Glaschu. It was at the conference that the idea for the Network emerged, mainly through discussions I had with the amazing 2023 Conference Chair and sociolinguist Erin McNulty.

The Celtic Students Conference has always embraced a wide variety of approaches and topics relating to the Celtic languages, and it was especially clear to us in Glaschu that this has ensured a vibrant presence of students interested in the sociolinguistics of Celtic languages (understood broadly as a society- and people-focused approach to researching the Celtic languages). Not only were there a number of papers on sociolinguistics at the Conference in 2023, but the breaks and Conference dinner were full of conversations that touched on themes in sociolinguistics, as we discussed the six minoritised-language communities that the Conference brings together. Linguistic landscape, language policy and planning, experiences of Celtic-language learners – these are topics of interest to the Association of Celtic Students at large, and the Association aims to be a welcoming space for those of us who dedicate our research to them. To further this, Erin and I thought it would be a good idea to establish a group specifically for students interested in sociolinguistics, a group that would allow us to come together and share our work and ideas.

In April, I contacted some of the people who had presented papers on sociolinguistics in Glaschu to gauge interest and find a date for an initial Zoom meeting. Once a date was agreed at the start of May, I shared the information with the wider Association and asked people to tell any student they know who is interested in sociolinguistics and Celtic languages. The idea for the first meeting was to get to know each other and decide what we wanted for the group: How often would we meet? What would we do when we do meet? What support would the Network be able to offer that would be helpful for its members? On the call, we learned more about each other, our research interests, our Celtic-language backgrounds, and we brainstormed ideas for the coming months. It was clear from the beginning that this was a coming together of enthusiastic, dedicated and kind students who were eager to connect with others working on similar topics and offer support to one another.

It was decided that we would meet monthly on Zoom to talk about what we are working on and thinking about. This might involve a general update, sharing ideas, asking questions or discussing challenges we’re facing. We also came up with other activities for calls like a speed paper-collaboration brainstorm using the breakout rooms on Zoom, individual presentations on aspects of our research that we’d like feedback on, guest speakers and a small online conference. Since May, we’ve been meeting monthly and bringing some of these ideas to life: we’ve had enjoyable catch-up calls, we’ve read amazing work by Network members and shared feedback, we’ve helped with Viva preparation, we’ve speed-papered and come up with future collaborations, we’ve made a Google Drive for sharing interesting readings we come across. Overall, we’ve built a generous, supportive, good-humoured community.

In 2024, we’d love to see this community continue to grow and we always welcome new members. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate student who is interested in the sociolinguistics of Celtic languages, please reach out so we can send you more information. We meet on Zoom on the first Friday of every month at 15:00-16:00 (Irish Standard Time). Even if you can’t regularly attend meetings, let us know if you’d like to be contacted about our future activities. The Network, for me, has been a source of huge joy and support, and I hope it can be that for you too. 

Alexandra Philbin
Universitat de València


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