General Linguistics
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19th Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference



In 2017, DiGS will be making (more) history: for the first time in the conference's now more than a quarter century-long history, it will take place in Africa!

South Africa's Stellenbosch University and the University of the Western Cape are proud to announce the 19th Diachronic Generative Syntax Conference (DiGS 19), which will take place in the fairest Cape 5-8 September 2017.

Registration takes place via SUNConferences (all information relating to DiGS 19 is mirrored on this site). Follow this lin​k to see the various registration options.

***All Programmes are now available online***

Important Dates:

4 September 2017: Pre-DiGS Workshop (the workshop programme is here)

5 September 2017: DiGS Workshop (the workshop programme is here)

6-8 September 2017: DiGS Main Conference (the conference programme is here)​

Main Conference (6-8 September):

The venue for the main conference is the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS).

Invited Speakers

Enoch Aboh (Amsterdam)
Charlotte Galves (Campinas)
David Lightfoot (Georgetown)
Pieter Muysken (Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen/Stellenbosch)
Jenneke van der Wal (Harvard)

DiGS Workshop: (5 September):

As has become traditional, the main conference will be preceded by a themed workshop. This year's focus is Language Variation and Change in Contact Situations.

Invited speakers: Charlotte Galves (Campinas) & Pieter Muysken (Radboud Universiteit/Stellenbosch)

Foci at the workshop include, but are not limited to:
  • descriptions of un(der)studied contact varieties and of (apparently) contact-induced structures
  • linguistic situations where acquirers/speakers can be shown to have “gone beyond the input”
  • the aspects of syntax and language structure more generally that seem to be either particularly contact-sensitive or particularly contact-resistant (i.e. stable)
  • formally motivated discussion of what ‘convergence’ in language-contact situations means, and of the extent to which simplification plays a prominent role here
  • the role of L2 acquisition, code-switching, and other multilingualism-related phenomena in the shaping of contact varieties
  • the types of optionality observed in contact situations. Here we are, among other things, particularly interested both in contact scenarios where a prescriptively imposed standard is and where one isn’t in the picture.
  • attrition
  • contact modelling

Pre-DiGS Workshop (4 September)

In addition to the usual DiGS Workshop, we are happy to announce that a special pre-workshop is planned at which local researchers will present work on topics related to the broad workshop and conference theme, including multilingualism and language variation and change in contact situations.

The venue for both workshops is Stellenbosch University's famous underground JS Gericke Library.

Practical Information

For the convenience of all our participants, the organisers have compiled guides for Visa-related queries, Accommodation, Entertainment & Transport-related queries, tips for What To Do in Cape Town and Surrounds, and links to Maps that might come in handy while planning your trip (these links can also be accessed from the navigation bar at the top of the page).

For further local (Cape-related) information, please contact

For directly DiGS-related information, please contact


DiGS is an established international conference, first launched in 1990, which has, until now, alternated between venues in Europe and the Americas (see for an overview of DiGS's history). Taking place annually since 2008, with 2009 having produced the first foray beyond Europe and North America (to Brazil), the conference is now widely recognised as a privileged forum for the presentation of research on formal diachronic syntax, combining historical and more broadly comparative investigations of syntactic phenomena from a generative perspective.

DiGS 19 welcomes submissions on any topic in formal diachronic syntax, but especially encourages research that reports novel linguistic data and/or sheds light on the internal and external sources of language change and the courses that this change can and can't take. As always, our aim is, on the one hand, to harness diachrony to probe the properties of natural language, and, on the other, to contribute to our understanding of how those properties constrain language change.

Organizing Committee

Theresa Biberauer (Cambridge/Stellenbosch)
Erin Pretorius (UWC)
Marie-Louise van Heukelum (Stellenbosch)
Kate Huddlestone (Stellenbosch)
Marcelyn Oostendorp (Stellenbosch)
Johan Oosthuizen (Stellenbosch)