The concept of domain loss originated in the Nordic countries in the 1990s and was defined by Laurén, Myking & Picht as “Loss of ability to communicate in the national language at all levels of an area of knowledge because of deficient further development of the necessary means of professional communication”. Foremost among those ‘necessary means’ are the terms needed to communicate on specific professional topics in one’s own language.
The term domain loss caught on quickly and became a buzzword shared by journalists and picked up by national language commissions (Haberland 2005). Extending their theory, Laurén, Myking & Picht also coined the terms domain conquest and domain reconquest, to refer to examples where a national language comes up with its own means of communication in a particular domain or supplies those means where they were at first lacking.
There have also been critics of the domain loss theory: Hultgren (2016) calls domain loss a ‘red herring’ that detracts attention away from other, more fundamental debates. She argues it might be more appropriate to speak of “lack of domain gain”. Haberland (2019) criticises the domain concept, at the same time stressing that variation in language behaviour remains a very worthwhile area of research that can be approached from a variety of angles. In Myking (2011) the co-author of the original seminal paper on the subject returns to his topic and notes that “It is possible that too much discussion has been centred around the negative aspects of domain loss, and that a positive shift of focus towards domain conquest would be more productive”. In his new paper, he argues that language planning, or rather “language management” is always possible but that its outcome is not predictable.
Worries about the influence of dominant languages on local languages, in particular in professional contexts, continue to exist, as do worries about the threat of (digital or other) extinction of minority languages. Conversely, there are many attempts, successful as well as unsuccessful, at enriching languages with language-specific terms for new concepts. The conference aims to address all these issues and welcomes theoretical work as well as practical examples.
The conference will welcome theoretical discussions on the theme as well as case studies illustrating domain loss, domain conquest and/or domain reconquest, with a focus on terminology as well as on other linguistic aspects. The following list is not exhaustive:
- In retrospect, are the concepts of domain loss/gain pertinent or are they misguided?
- What are the processes of domain loss/gain?
- Post-colonial issues related to domain loss
- Domain loss/gain and the role and options of governments and other bodies
- Domain loss/gain and multinational/international bodies
- Language planning and domain loss/gain
- The role of social media in domain loss/gain
- Domain loss/gain in workplace communication
- Domain loss/gain in higher education
- E-commerce and the importance of local languages
- What domains and what languages are especially vulnerable to domain loss and what are the contributing factors?
- What are the dangers/risks if any of domain loss?
- The threat of “digital death” for some languages
Solutions for domain loss
- Are there any potential solutions to domain loss?
- Best practices for problem solving for domain loss in translation, interpreting, terminology, education, business, etc.
- Can technology influence domain loss and/or support domain gain?
- How to react against domain loss and how to acquire/adopt domain terminology from other communities
- What domains and what languages – if any – are successful in domain gain?
- Can language planning by official bodies or via legislation contribute successfully to domain gain? What other means can be more successful?
- Creole and pidgin languages: need for domain gain?
(The list is not exhaustive)