The SeDyL Joint Research Unit (Language Dynamics and Structure) is a research and training centre in language sciences under the supervision of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the French Institute for Research on Development (IRD) and the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO).
SeDyL was formed in 2010 by the merger of the CELIA (Centre d’Etude des Langues Indigènes d’Amérique, UMR 8133, founded in 1973) and the Linguistic Circle of INALCO, founded in 1994.
The SeDyL comprises around 45 members, including:
- 8 researchers including 2 Emeritus researchers,
- 15 lecturers or professors including 2 Emeritus professors,
- 3 technical support staff,
- 2 members on fixed-term contracts,
- 4 post-doctoral students and 11 doctoral students.
The scientific aims of SeDyL are:
- to compile first-hand linguistic resources through field work and the collection of corpora,
- to deepen our knowledge of the functioning of the languages of the world and language practices as social practices,
- to discuss the challenges of multilingual societies: language policies (within the fields of education and health), endangered languages and language standardisation, languages and migration.
SeDyL focuses on four fields of expertise:
1) the description, documentation and grammaticalisation of world languages;
2) the study of language contacts, linguistic variations and change;
3) linguistic and regional typologies;
4) the study of multilingualism in different contexts (school, health, migration) leading to the critical analysis of linguistic policies.
SeDyL stands out for two major specialisations:
-the joint treatment of less widespread – or even undescribed – languages and languages with an academic tradition, which has led to an abundance of work. This joint approach is adopted as a positioning in order to reach beyond certain purely typological approaches and is central to the editorial line of the unit’s Faits de Langues journal.
– the inclusion at the heart of our scientific projects of a close involvement with the field and the “Global South” countries, where the unit is an important scientific actor cooperating with other scientific bodies in knowledge transfer and dissemination. This specific epistemological positioning is central to our experience of the Global South as the IRD’s only unit in language sciences.
SeDyL has its place in the national and international landscape in two complementary fields:
– the field of the linguistics of language diversity: the unit is a member of the TUL Federation made up of eleven research units nationally, and the EFL LABEX which is formed of eleven Parisian units within the SPC. It also partners regularly with research centres in Germany and the Netherlands (Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Universities of Leiden and Amsterdam), or in the United Kingdom (Manchester, SOAS and King’s College London).
– in the field of research in social sciences of the Global South: the unit is a member of the F3S Federation and is the leader of Package 2 of the LMI MESO. It regularly forms partnerships with universities of the Global South (CIESAS in Mexico, URBA in Cambodia, UNB in Brazil), and is part of a network of research centres specialised in the field of multilingualism in the Global South (MultiLing in Oslo, Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Stockholm), through the Southern Multilingualism and Diversities consortium.
Research and training
Alongside its central role of knowledge production, as demonstrated by the many publications and the two journals it produces (Amerindia and Faits de Langue), as well as the research outputs (such as the production of corpora, methods or platforms), SeDyL makes sure that society benefits from its work through cooperation (bi-national projects or implication of the communities on which the research is based) or promotion (science and society debates, scientific outreach, translations), as well as training.
SeDyL is also highly committed to training language sciences students in Paris, from bachelor’s to doctoral levels. Our Master’s degrees – especially the INALCO-Paris 3 dual-degree – are an introduction to research practices within our four areas of expertise, each demanding specific methodological and theoretical skills which we teach with a comparative approach to different areas. The unit continues to structure linguistic activities at INALCO, thanks to interdisciplinary linguistics courses for undergraduates, the management of a Master’s in linguistics which is co-accredited with INALCO-Paris 3, and the coordination of 5 doctoral seminars that are open to all.