FY
NL
EN
You are here: Minority languages → Expert in the Spotlight → Durk Gorter

Expert of the Month March 2008: Durk Gorter


The expert of the Month feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s.

Featured expert:

Durk Gorter is specialist on minority language education, linguistic landscape, multilingualism and Frisian.

If you have any questions on this months topics, Ask Durk!

 

Face to face with Durk Gorter

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages / education / multilingualism?

I got into the field through my research work on the survey of the Frisian language in a large project funded by the Dutch National Science Foundation carried out at the Fryske Akademy. From the beginning I wanted to see the social context of Frisian as a minority language in a broader European framework. Through the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages and some international projects funded by ‘Europe’, among them the Mercator project, I was able to develop my interest in international comparative research further.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

Today on the one hand we see many efforts to revitalize languages such as Frisian or Basque. Some are more successful than others. On the other hand in our world we are confronted with increased multilingualism in many ways, through technology, travel, migration, etc. To understand how this complex works, how people learn languages, how they deal with their languages and how they use their linguistic resources is a real challenge.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

The last few years, among others, I have been involved in the study of the linguistic landscape, that is, the analysis of the use of language in its written form in the public sphere. This started as an ‘aside’, a digression of my main work. The study of the linguistic landscape has attracted a lot of new researchers. It is a sexy topic and has almost turned into a hype in sociolinguistics.

One of the central concepts I would like to investigate is that of ´multi-competence´. It refers to the fact that second or third language users should not be viewed as a sum of imitation monolinguals, but rather they should be seen to possess unique forms of competence, or competencies, in their own right. The languages that multilingual speakers use are not completely compartmentalized and influence each other. Multilingual people have different degrees of competence in different languages because they use them for different purposes and they also use code-switching and other resources to communicate in a more efficient way. Languages are not separated into isolated compartments, and borders between them are fluid.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

Well, perhaps my two forthcoming edited books.

The first is with Elana Shohamy from Tel Aviv on ‘Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery’. It will be published later this year by Routledge.

The second is also an edited book, this time with Guus Extra from Tilburg on ‘Multilingual Europe: facts and policies’. It will also appear in 2008 and is published by Mouton-De Gruyter.

Further details on my publications are available in www.creamofscience.org

And if you want to come to work in the Basque Country, I give some reasons on the website of Ikerbasque (click researcher portraits).


Area of focus:

Durk Gorter is specialist on minority language education, linguistic landscape, multilingualism and Frisian. He works as research professor at Ikerbasque (Basque Foundation for Science), FICE / University of the Basque Country, Department of Theory and History of Education, Donostia / San Sebastian, Basque Country, Spain and at the University of Amsterdam, Frisian Studies, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Do you have any questions on these topics?

Ask Durk!


Featured topic:

Our focus this month lies on multilingualism and minority language education.


Further reading:

Ikerbasque, FICE / University of the Basque Country, Department of Theory and History of Education, Donostia / San Sebastian, Basque Country , Spain

University of Amsterdam, Frisian Studies