The International Congress of Linguists (ICL) takes place every five years, under the governance of the International Permanent Committee of Linguists (CIPL). Any organization or institution that is a member of CIPL may organize the ICL. The venue of the congress is chosen by the Executive Committee of CIPL at least four years before the event takes place.

The first International Congress of Linguists was held in 1928 in The Hague. The initiative came from two Dutch linguists, Christianus Uhlenbeck (Leiden University) and Joseph Schrijnen (the University of Nijmegen). It was an important landmark in the history of the Congresses and a convincing proof of the fact that linguistics had become an autonomous science. At the first Congress Antoine Meillet, an outstanding French linguist, suggested that International Congresses of Linguists should be held every three years. This proposal was unanimously accepted.

The regularity of the Congresses was broken by World War II. Since 1952 the Congress has been held with a five-year interval. The Congress has considerably expanded, growing into a worldwide event. Two Congresses took place in North America (1962 and 1992), two in Asia (1982 and 2008) and one more in Africa (2018). The Congress of 2013 was held in Geneva and dedicated to the 100th anniversary of de Saussure’s Cours de linguistique générale.

By now 20 congresses have been organized: The Hague (1928), Geneva (1931), Rome (1933), Copenhagen (1936), Brussels (1939) (cancelled because of World War II), Paris (1948), London (1952), Oslo (1957), Cambridge, Mass. (1962), Bucharest (1967), Bologna (1972), Vienna (1977), Tokyo (1982), Berlin (1987), Quebec (1992), Paris (1997), Prague (2003), Seoul (2008), Geneva (2013), Cape Town (2018).

ICL21, which is to be held in the very heart of Eurasia in 2023, aims at fostering academic knowledge and cooperation in the field of linguistics throughout the world. Its motto is “Stepping up towards broader linguistics”.