top of page

Islands of Cognition

International perspectives on linguistic diversity and human cognition

Iceland - Greenland - Denmark

Veröld – House of Vigdís
University of Iceland
Friday, 26th April 2019

The Conference

Room 023 in Veröld - House of Vigdis
26th April 2019
09:45 – 16:00

In April 2018, Peter Bakker and Joshua Nash invited 12 speakers to participate in a workshop entitled Exploring Island Languages at Aarhus University. Each speaker shared knowledge of a specific language spoken by a speech community living on a particular island or archipeligo. While the notion of ‘islandness’ was the common denominator, some of the languages discussed were typologically very different from the others. The decision to include a variety of languages facilitated the objective: to answer the question “Is there anything unique about island languages?” Our discussions and conclusions are presented in the article ‘On languages on islands’, to be published in the journal Acta Linguistica Hafniensia later this year.


The conference Islands of Cognition seeks to elaborate on the theme of island languages. In this conference, the focus is directed at specific attributes of each language or language type to be discussed. Simultaneously, our objective is to provide students and teachers of Icelandic, General Linguistics and other Humanities subjects at the University of Iceland with an insight into the constraints imposed by domain-general cognitive function on the structural diversity characteristic of communicative systems known collectively as human language. Additionally, it is hoped that our guests from Denmark and Greenland learn about research performed from the perspectives of first and second language acquisition, cognitive and usage-based grammar and by scholars at the University of Iceland.


The conference will showcase original research conducted from the cognitive perspective with the ultimate aim of demonstrating how domain-general cognitive processes such as comparison, analogy, categorisation, schematisation and entrenchment facilitate language acquisition, language usage and language change.


Our nine speakers come from six countries and work at one of three institutions of higher education: Aarhus University, the University of Greenland and the University of Iceland. Each of the nine papers will focus on a particular island language or type of island language: Crucian (St. Croix, in the Carribean), Faroese, Greenlandic, Icelandic, Pitcairn (South Pacific) and Reta (Indonesia). All papers will be presented in English.






Jón Símon Markússon (Icelandic, Faroese)

Entrenchment of relations and their (re)organisation by frequency: Evidence from Insular Nordic


Kristoffer Friis Bøegh (Crucian)

Tense-Modality-Aspect inSt. Croix Creole English


Katrín Axelsdóttir (Icelandic)

Of cats and men





Jeroen Willemsen (Reta) 

Phonaesthemic minimal pairs in Reta


Þórhallur Eyþórsson (Icelandic, Faroese)

North Atlantic subjects: Morphosyntactic levelling of subject case in Insular Nordic


Judithe Denbæk (Greenlandic)

The power of bound morphemes





Gísli Hvanndal Ólafsson (Icelandic as a second language)

Chunking of linguistic structures in Icelandic L2


Joshua Nash (Pitcairn)

Pitcairn Island frames of spatial reference


Peter Bakker (island creole)

Cognitive creolistics: the what and why of shared properties of island creoles



The Conference

About the venue

What is Veröld - House of Vigdís?

The newest building at the University of Iceland is Veröld – the House of Vigdís. The house opened formally on 20 April 2017 with a large number of people in attendance. 

The building houses teaching, research and events connected to foreign languages and culture. The building was named Veröld – the house of Vigdís (the World), after a competition among the public. 

The Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages is located in the building. The institute operates in cooperation with the Icelandic government and UNESCO. 
The building boasts of excellent facilities for lectures and conferences, work spaces for visiting scholars, and rooms for teaching and research in the field of foreign languages. 

A small collection commemorating the historic election of Vigdís Finnbogadóttir as president in 1980 can also be found in Veröld, along with a space dedicated to exhibitions on language and culture.  

The goal with the house’s operations is to increase knowledge in the field of foreign languages and culture and to increase awareness of the importance of such knowledge in society at large.



Speakers from the University of Iceland, University of Greenland and Aarhus University
Click on an image for speaker's abstract
Past Events


For additional information contact Jón Símon Markússon.
bottom of page