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The Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna 2012

 

The seventh Congress of the International Society for Dialectology and Geolinguistics took place at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna between 23rd and 28th of July, 2012.

The rich program started immediately on Monday morning, even before the inaugu­rational ceremony on Monday night. Five days of conferences and workshops awaited 181 eager participants from 33 countries. The Congress subtitle “Dialect 2.0” characterized the program very well; it was far more technical than former Congresses. This is a positive development, since it shows that dialectology and geolinguistics link traditional scholarship to modern computer techniques, in the fields of corpus linguistics as well as cartography and visualization. Without exaggeration, dialectology and geolinguistics are an interface between tradition and future, as became obvious in the lectures and workshops, the poster session and the plenary lectures. Moreover, a book exposition (looked after by Astrid and Ruth van Nahl) put on display a lot of recent publications, bestowed by different pub­lishers as generous givers as well as by several scholars.

The Austrian Academy of Sciences, located in the historic centre of Vienna, proved an impressive frame for the Congress, esp. its opening and the equally solemn jubilee of the DINAMLEX institute (Institut für Österreichische Dialekt- und Namenlexika) that host­ed and organized the Congress. Special thanks go to Eveline Wandl-Vogt and Christina Schrödl and her team who worked so hard to make the Congress not only very successful, but also very commemorable.

After the opening of the Congress, all participants were invited to Vienna’s historic town hall where we could get a first impression of a Wiener Schnitzel. The speeches of the opening and the reception mentioned the budget cuts in this time of recession. The outgoing president of SIDG underlined that scientific and scholarly research and education must be exempt from cuts, since they are a necessary investment into the future, and austerity in research and education will cost dearly in the future, whereas innovation will help to resolve problems in all fields and advance knowledge and humanity. Some of us spent the time after the reception at the film festival in front of the Rathaus or in surrounding bars.

Wednesday meant a break for the scientific program: the participants had the opportunity to discover the Burgenland, the part of Austria between Vienna and Hungary. We visited the castle of Eszterházy in Eisenstadt. Our guides of Hungarian origin meticulously explained all the amorous escapades of the Eszterházy family through the last centuries. From Eisenstadt we continued to Rust where we tasted the local Zwiebelrostbraten (or mixed vegetables for vegetarians). We travelled on to Mörbisch and undertook a boat trip on Lake Neusiedl. With the beautiful weather, the skin colour of some participants became more holiday-like. Back to the town of Rust we enjoyed a guided tour and tasted some local wine.

The following two days brought more lectures and workshops and a very interesting poster session, with a prize for an outstanding student contribution. The special students’ session and the student posters is definitely something that should be repeated at later Congresses.

On Friday, the SIDG business meeting took place. As announced early, the membership fee had to be raised, albeit moderately, and a new board was elected. After two consecutive periods in office some board members—includ­ing the president—had to step back, according to the Statutes’ regulations, and a new active board came into office. Only Astrid van Nahl as the editor-in-chief of the Society’s journal and Wolfgang Viereck as her co-editor editor could be confirmed in their offices for another three years. With Maria Pilar Perea as the president, the headquarters will move to the Iberian Peninsula (which has to be ratified at an extra-ordinary busi­ness meeting at the next Congress).

The Congress came to an end on Saturday. It was a splendid idea of the organizers to finish the event with the DINAMLEX jubilee conference. As the conference language was German, some international guests left after the last Congress sessions on Saturday morning. Those who stayed had the opportunity of a solemn closing session and another reception. Linking the Congress with the jubilee even meant more public interest for our field: a small exposition gave the public some insight into 100 years of dialectal research.

The 2015 Congress has been invited to Famagusta on Cyprus, hosted by the East-Mediterranean University of Northern Cyprus. That will be a more exotic venue than the Austrian capital. Because or in spite of the summery temperatures, all participants had a wonderful time in Vienna and are looking forward to meeting again, in three years at the latest.

 

Martin Haase
(former president of the SIDG)