- Minority languages
- Research & Projects
A summary of the news for December 2013.
Times are uncertain for Omrop Fryslân, the regional broadcaster of the province of Fryslân and the only regional broadcaster of the Netherlands that does not broadcast in Dutch, but in the second national language, Frisian. After severe cutbacks in the last couple of years, the regular funding of and the responsibility for Omrop Fryslân will be transferred from the Provinsje Fryslân to the national Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on January 1st 2014. This means that Omrop Fryslân would have to cut down another 1.7 million euro as of 2017. Two plans circulate with respect to such a reorganisation. In the first plan Omrop Fryslân and the other regional broadcasters would have to integrate with the national broadcaster NPO. In the second plan, which is a suggestion of the association of regional broadcasters ROOS, Omrop Fryslân would have to merge, or at least cooperate intensively, with the northern broadcasters RTV Noord and RTV Drenthe.
Both plans are a direct threat for the use of Frisian on radio and television. If not taken into account, Frisian will be restricted to a weekly ‘Frisian hour’. The EBLT wants to point out to the politicians, at Frisian and national level, that according to the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages Frisians are entitled to radio and television in their own language. Therefore, the EBLT asks the politicians in the Provincial Council and the Dutch House of Representatives to settle that Omrop Fryslân stays an independent broadcasting station with its own director and management.
Furthermore, the EBLT wants to point out that the Netherlands signed the European Charter not only for Frisian, but also for Low Saxon. Two other northern broadcasters, RTV Noord and RTV Drenthe, develop programmes in Low Saxon and are important for the Low Saxon language and culture (spoken in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe). The EBLT is therefore of the opinion that RTV Noord and RTV Drenthe should retain the possibility to develop radio and television in Low Saxon and to extend these programmes when possible.
The position paper of the EBLT has also been sent to the Council of Europe. This paper is available here.
3-year network (January 2014- December 2016) supported by action KA2 Languages of the Lifelong Learning Programme, European Commission
How can less used languages, including Regional and Minority languages, benefit from Open Educational Practices (OEP)? How can Open Educational Resources (OER) be shaped to foster linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe? What policies are favourable to the uptake of quality OER in less used language communities?
Less used languages face the risk of linguistic/cultural dependence in the fast evolving OER/OEP landscape currently dominated by English. The LangOER network addresses the needs of two main target groups: educators and policy makers. For the former, the project offers face-to-face and online training sessions in 7 languages, aimed at raising awareness of OER/OEP and covering the creation and use of multilingual and interactive OER. For the latter, capacity building is targeted through expert pan-European events, policy support and consultation mechanisms seeking to overcome barriers to OER uptake.
The partnership consists of a set of key players: a global organisation for open and distance education, a consortium of 30 European Ministries of Education linked to the biggest network of European schools, a research centre on multilingualism / network of multilingual schools in minority language areas in Europe, universities with R&D activity and strong local and national reach, and companies with experience in quality e-learning activity at European level.
Activities will result in comparative studies, policy making papers and a showcase of best practices. Above all they will be nurtured by and fuel live streamed conferences, webinars, an awards competition and social network based discussions. The network’s real challenge is to enhance the linguistic and cultural variety that Europe is proud of, on the international scene of Open Education.
Key findings will be published in EL, EN, LV, LT, NL, PL, SE and Frisian. Network impact is guaranteed through the dissemination potential of LangOER project members, especially pan-European and international networks
A summary of the news for October 2013.
Each year the Foundation for Endangered Languages organises a conference devoted to the study and safeguarding of endangered languages. In 2008 this took place at the Fryske Akademy in Ljouwert/Leeuwarden and this year Carleton University in Ottawa hosted the conference in the beginning of October. As FEL Committee member and representative of the Fryske Akademy and the Mercator Centre, Tjeerd de Graaf attended the meeting together with about 60 other delegates from various countries. The topic of this year's conference was Endangered Languages beyond Boundaries: Community Connections, Collaborative Approaches and Cross-Disciplinary Research. Special attention has been paid to the survival and maintenance of the Aboriginal languages in Canada and it was indicated that a renewed interest exists in the vitality of these languages. Efforts to preserve them contribute to the cultural continuity and identity of Aboriginal peoples, maintain connections across generations and foster community well-being. This was quite well illustrated during a very interesting visit to the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Maniwaki, Quebec, where the language immersion programme at the school was shown by the teachers. They have implemented language programmes in their community school and have used technology to promote it on their website. The lectures and demonstrations during the conference also illustrated the important results which have been obtained in this field. The conference brought together researchers and language activists from a range of disciplines, organisations and governments, all aware of the importance of language maintenance and revitalisation. Further information about the conference and other activities of the Foundation for Endangered Language can be found on the website of the FEL journal Ogmios: www.ogmios.org
On Thursday the 17th of October and Friday the 18th of October the first LEARNMe Workshop took place in Aberystwyth, Wales.
The theme of the workshop was ‘revisiting, reanalysing and redefining research on linguistic diversity: media, education and policy’. Several experts from all over Europe gave a presentation. The focus of the presentations was on media in the broadest sense of the word or on redefining the concept of linguistic diversity. Among the experts were Professor Tom Moring, University of Helsinki, Finland, who presented about the new indigenous journalism master. Professor Jeroen Darquennes, University of Namur, focussed on macro and micro perspectives in language policy and planning in Europe. Also, the so-called ‘new media’ was represented: Lysbeth Jongbloed (Mercator Research Centre) told us about her research on the language use of teenagers on Twitter. Dr. Eithne O’Connell, Dublin City University, summed up the workshop with her presentation about ‘the diversity of linguistic diversity’. Other experts who gave a presentation were: Elin H G Jones, Dr. Huw Lewis , Dr. Noémi Nagy, Professor Vitek Dovalil, Dr. Wini Davies, Vanessa Bretxa and Professor Josu Amezaga.
At the end of the conference there was a round table discussion about the most important statements of the workshop and about redefining or defining linguistic diversity at all.
During the Workshop Twitter and Facebook were used intensively. You can see mini-summaries of each presentation on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mercatornetwork or follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mercatornetwork.
We also intend to putt the presentations online at our website www.learnme.eu.
During the workshop video interviews were held with the experts. Experts told about best practices and about what linguistic diversity means according to them. Those videos will be used for the dissemination of the project and also be shown at the final conference in Budapest in 2015.
After this workshop a position paper will be produced, using the input of the first workshop. The second LEARNMe Workshop will be in Stockholm on 15 and 16 May.
A summary of the news for september 2013.
In September 2013 the new building of the Frisian Museum in Ljouwert/Leeuwarden will be opened. One of the special expositions there is “Ferhaal fan Fryslân” (Story of Fryslân), which contains material about the Frisian language and culture. One item is devoted to historical sound recordings, made in 1928 by the German linguist and field worker Theodor Siebs. He had great interest in and published important books about the Frisian language and its history. During a few weeks in Fryslân he recorded more than twenty dialects, such as from Hylpen (Hindeloopen), Skylge (Terschelling) and Skiermuontseach (Schiermonnikoog), which in that time showed much more regional variation than at present. Due to the standardisation of the Frisian language and the influence of the state language Dutch some of these dialects disappeared. The same holds for the Frisian dialects of Germany, where for instance the last speaker of Wangeroog Frisian (on one of the German Wadden islands) has been recorded by Siebs. Since then the interesting acoustic data about these extinct and highly endangered languages are available on historical gramophone records in the Berliner Lautarchiv, the sound archive of the Humboldt University.
Since more than 20 years Tjeerd de Graaf, research fellow at the Fryske Akademy and the European Mercator Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning, has been working on the reconstruction and study of endangered languages and sound archives. His interest in this topic started when he got hold of the old recordings made by Siebs and contacted the Berliner Lautarchiv, in that time in the German Democratic Republic. He was invited to visit Berlin by Prof. Dieter Mehnert, then director of the Institute of Phonetics and the Lautarchiv. Together they started joint projects on endangered archives, most of them in Russia. Later he got digital copies of the old Frisian recordings, which will soon be shown at the special exposition in the Frisian Museum.
In the future the Berliner Lautarchiv will be part of the new Humboldt-Forum, which will be situated within the rebuilt Berlin Palace. The reconstruction work for this palace, which was destroyed during and after the war, started this summer and it will become a fascinating centre in the middle of Berlin, showcasing the world’s cultures and art forms from ancient times to the present day. One of the initiatives taken by the organisers is the creation of a section “Welt der Sprachen” (World of Languages), an new library format with interactive components related to specific topics such as Language and Identity, Multilingualism, Languages of the World and Endangered Languages. It will be important for Frisian institutions, such as the Fryske Akademy, the Frisian Museum and the Provincial Library and Archive to follow this development with great interest: in Fryslân similar plans could probably be realized. In the near future Tjeerd de Graaf is going to discuss these plans with his colleague in the Foundation for Siberian Cultures, Prof.Dr.Michael Dürr, deputy-director of the Zentral- und Landesbibliothek Berlin (the largest public library in Germany) and main organiser of the “Welt der Sprachen”.
The Supervisory Board of the Fryske Akademy appoints dr Hanno Brand as director of the Fryske Akademy as of December 1st, 2013. The Board announced this today at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the scientific institute at De Harmonie in Leeuwarden. The appointment of Brand has been approved by both subsidizers of the Fryske Akademy: the Province of Fryslân and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam. Brand will be the seventh director of the Fryske Akademy.
Hanno Brand (Gouda, 1959) studied history at the universities of Leiden and Gent. He obtained his doctorate in 1996 with a dissertation on urban elites in Leiden in the 15th century: Over macht en overwicht: stedelijke elites in Leiden (1420-1510). He had positions at several universities and research institutes before becoming head of the Department of History and Literature of the Fryske Akademy in 2009. His research focuses in particular on the relation between the northern Netherlands and the Hanseatic League, court culture, the urban elite, and socioeconomic aspects of urban history; and, after his appointment at the Fryske Akademy, also on Frisian regional identity (e.g. the Frisian Nassaus) and Frisian maritime history.
What is the Multilingual Families project?
The “Multilingual Families” project is a project that is targeted at preserving the languages and culture of immigrants and the many families with parents with more than one language. These people represent a linguistic treasure house for Europe and one that must be preserved to enhance the linguistic and multi-cultural diversity of Europe.
To preserve this treasure in to the second generation, the children of immigrants and linguistically diverse parents, is vital as a continuing linguistic resource.
Resources for Educators and Families
The EU Multilingual Families project has already produced a comprehensive repository of information about bringing up children multilingually that includes:
Books, Articles, Research projects, PhD Thesis, EU projects, Web Tools, Web resources, Reading, Social networks and Activities
The project will soon be producing guides for parents and educators to show:
• Why children can be raised multilingually
• How parents can raise children multilingually
• How educators can help and support parents
• Motivation for children to be multilingual
The project will soon invite schools and parents to pilot the resources we are creating. If you would like to be part of the piloting team please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
To celebrate the start of the MA programme Multilingualism in Leeuwarden and the BA Minorities & Multilingualism in Groningen, the University Campus Fryslân and the University of Groningen organised the conference Multilingual Fryslân on September 12th and 13th in Leeuwarden.
The conference was a gathering of students and professionals in the field of Multilingualism. Presentations were given during the day about Code Switching, Bilingual Children, Language Contact, Language Planning, Minority languages, Language Processing and Multilingual Education. In the late afternoon, the day was closed with Key Debates about Language and Thought, Language Innateness, Language Shift and Language Planning. Prominent debaters were Geoff Pullum, Guillaume Thierry, Dan Everett, Jan-Wouter Zwart, Toeve Skutnabb-Kangas, Sue Wright, Robert Phillipson and Abram de Swaan.
The Mercator European Research Centre was also present. Cor van der Meer chaired the sessions about Language Contact and Lysbeth Jongbloed-Faber gave a presentation about her research on language use by Frisian adolescents on social media.
The conference succeeded in gathering pioneers in the field of minority languages and applied linguistics in Leeuwarden. The organisers turned Leeuwarden into the academic centre of multilingualism. The new students got a lot of inspiration for their (academic) career and professionals had a chance to exchange ideas with their fellow-researchers.
On the picture: Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Sue Wright and chairman of the debates Frans Zwarts (left)
The President of MDU is to announce whether or not the Centre for Finnish Studies will be shut down later this year. The Centre has functioned as an educational, scientific and cultural centre for needs at local, regional and national Finnish and Sweden Finnish levels for a decade (2003-2013). It has produced scientific reports, arranged national and international conferences, participated in international research projects and networks, developed distance education in Finnish, as well as an infrastructure for educating authorities to develop the linguistic skills of their staff in Finnish for the needs raised by the new Minority Language Act. (resource 1, recource 2).
The decision is expected to be negative for the Centre, since the Academy at MDU which it belongs to, has proposed the determination of its activities and basic employment structure, and cancelled the intake of students for the coming academic year. The closing down of the Centre has raised protests and concerns, within MDU, regionally, in the media, and also caused an interpellation by MP Raimo Pärssinen in the Swedish Riksdag. The Minister in charge of minority affairs, Mr Erik Ullenhag, was asked to clarify the position of the government. The Minister referred to the autonomy of higher education institutions, as the deciding authority in this matter
Sweden recognised five national minorities in 2000: the Roma, Jews, Tornedalians, the Sami (also the indigenous people), and the Sweden Finns. The Young Minority-platform is a network for all of Sweden's five national minority youth associations.
The Young minority-platform wants to unite all the national youth associations of the different minorities, to discuss matters which relate to all five minorities. Through this cooperation it wants to give youngsters unique opportunities to increase their knowledge of each other. The Young Minority-platform also organises a variety of events, workshops, and cultural activities.
The Young Minority-platform's long-term purpose is to act as an advisory body on issues relating to questions regarding national minority youngsters and to develop cooperation between the youth associations.
The Chairmanship of the platform rotates among the associations and for the first period 2012/2013 the chairman has been the Roma youth association.
The Young Minority-platform seems to be unique in the world, since in most other countries there is no comparable cooperation between youngsters of different national minorities.
On the 17th of June, 2013, over 80 practitioners, researchers, students, and others from different parts of the world, working across disciplines, discussed a wide range of issues within the theme of 'Multilingual & Multicultural Communication' (M&MC) at the Vernon Sq Campus of SOAS (University of London).
The International Association of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP) and The International Communication Association (ICA) teamed up with SOAS, University of London and Mercator/ Fryske Akademy to organise this one-day symposium.
A rather early beginning (registration at 8.15 am) and a warm welcome were followed by an introduction by the co-chairs, Howard Giles (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA) & Itesh Sachdev (SOAS, UK), who expressed concern at the parlous attention to M&MC in many areas of academic enquiry including communication studies, interpersonal and social psychology, and linguistics. Lid King (The Language Company, UK) and Dina Mehmedbegovic (Institute of Education, London, UK) began the main proceedings with a presentation on urban diversity with a special focus on London (UK). Reinier Salverda and Cor van der Meer (Mercator/Fryske Akademy, Fryslân, the Netherlands) then discussed the importance of regional and minority languages with data on trilingual education in Fryslan, and alsodiscussed opportunities for regional and minority languages in using new media.
Francois Grin (Geneva, Switzerland) provided a critical economic analysis of lingue franche, while emotions were stirred, and expressed, multilingually by Jean Marc Dewaele’s (Birkbeck, UK) presentation. Following a delicious vegetarian lunch (according to feedback & provided by a SOAS Students Union team), the afternoon’s proceedings shifted to M&MC across time and space with Li Wei (Birkbeck, UK) focussing on the import of the diaspora, while Anne Pauwels (SOAS, UK) explored cyber-space. Rupert Brown (Sussex, UK), while sidestepping issues of language, provided an important intergroup perspective on acculturation (relevant for modelling M&MC). The task of modelling M&MC was taken on in the final session by the co-organisers, and Howard Giles dynamically presented a wide range of models that culminated in arguing for the importance of integrating notions of cosmopolitanism in current theorising and future research. The final panel discussion proved to be lively and stimulating enough for most of the participants to continue their deliberations more informally at a convivial reception at SOAS (some even stayed long enough for spicy vegetarian Ethiopian fare nearby in London!). Sarah Cartwright was the unofficial photographer, while Imke Djouadj, Ellen Foote & Nadia Sarkhoh made easy work of the administrative aspects.
(on the picture fltr: François Grin, Cor van der Meer, Rupert Brown, Itesh Sachdev, Anne Pauwels, Jean-Marc Dewaele, Reinier Salverda, Li Wei, Dina Mehmedbegovic, Howard Giles)
The new master course at the University of the Basque Country in Donostia-San Sebastián can look back on a successful year which is now coming to a close. With great enthusiasm the group of 23 students has followed the lectures, among others by guest teachers from Wales, dr Rhian Hodges (Bangor) and from Friesland, dr Alex Riemersma (lecturer at Stenden University and formerly the Mercator Research Centre).
The students also attended public lectures by well-known researchers in multilingualism such as Prof Adrian Blackledge & Prof Angela Creese (Birmingham), Prof Jeanine Treffers-Daller (Reading) & dr Michael Daller (Bristol), Prof Sari Pietikainen (Jysvaskyla), Prof Li Wei & Prof Zhu Zua (London). The collaboration with the new master on multilingualism in Leeuwarden/Ljouwert will take shape next academic year.
The students also went on a field trip to the exhibition on multilingualism in the world: Badu Bada. The photo shows they had a good time.
This all contributes to the aim of EMME to promote excellent teaching and high quality research and it inspires both students and faculty. Critical thinking and analytical skills are stimulated in a programme that addresses key concepts and challenges of multilingualism and education.
The registration for next year has recently opened and there are already quite a few interested students.
For further information click here or contact Durk Gorter.
The Lectorate of Frisian and Multilingualism in Education has received a grant from the Province of Fryslân for a pilot project concerning the use and the learning of all three target languages – Dutch, Frisian and English – in primary school by means of a safe social network.
This educational social network called "My Schools Network" has been developed for the use of English as a target language by the NHL university of applied sciences in 2010-2012. The unique selling point of "My Schools Network" is the relationship between the reading and writing activities of pupils guided by "events" or "challenging tasks" on the one hand, and on-line coaching of those pupils by language students on the other. The project has been awarded the "European Language Label 2012" for innovative approaches to Language teaching and learning. Read more...
The new project "My Schools Network for the Trilingual School" will focus on contacts among pupils in the highest grades of primary school (age 10-12) by means of challenging events. They will use Frisian with other pupils in the neigbourhood, Dutch with schools elsewhere in the Netherlands, and English with fellow-students abroad.
The pilot project "My Schools Network for the Trilingual School" is scheduled for 2013-2014; the aim is to expand the project and the number of participating schools in later years.
Preference is given to pupils of bilingual or trilingual primary schools in other regions in Europe with a lesser used language. Schools that are interested in the concept or want to joint the network, are invited to contact the website: www.myschoolsnetwork.com
For 500 years, in the reclaimed piece of land "it Bildt", one of the municipalities of Fryslân, a mixed language Frisian-Dutch, called "Biltsk", has been in living use among around 6,000 speakers. Language transmission is rather high (over 80%). Biltsk and Frisian are mutually understood without difficulties. Whereas Frisian is officially recognised by law, Biltsk has no formal status. The municipality It Bildt has developed a simple language policy regarding pre-school and primary education, and cultural affairs. However, in the near future the municipality will merge with two or three surrounding municipalities where Frisian is spoken by the majority.
In order to safeguard both languages in their own right in the new municipality, two initiatives have been taken recently: (a) the development of a common language policy with the merging partners based on art 7.1.b of the Charter ("respecting linguistic borders"), and some articles of the menu-system of part III; (b) the application for official recognition of Biltsk as a regional language in the remit of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.
On Thursday 25 April, the president of the NPLD ms. Jannewietske de Vries has addressed the Celtic Media Festival in Abertawe / Swansea. The festival was co-organised by the Welsh Broadcast Company Channel Four (S4C) and the World Indigenous Television Broadcasting Network. It was the follow-up of an event run by the NPLD and Channel Four (S4C) and the Welsh Language Board in December 2011.
For the last 33 years, Celtic Media Festival's aim has been to promote the languages and cultures of the Celtic countries on screen and in broadcasting.
“We should not be afraid of Facebook or Twitter, but instead make use of those media in a proper way and for the benefit of our cultures. The only way we can face the future, in terms of making our languages a realistic means of communication, is to embrace the new technology”, Jannewietske De Vries said.
The European Agenda can be well characterised by economic terms and concepts. Jannewietske De Vries stressed, however, that the social cohesion of a community is more important yet for the European citizens: “Common culture and common media can build bridges between people. Culture, in all its appearances in our regional and minority languages can highly contribute to that social cohesion within the community.”
From a European perspective, she concluded, that the Celtic Media Festival can be considered a regional ouverture towards that European seminar on the issue of media and cultures across borders which will be organised next autumn in Aberystwyth by the Mercator Network.
The Research Centre for Multilingualism of the Research Institute for Linguistics, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (RIL-HAS) will organize a workshop conference on Theory and Practice of Linguistic Landscape research on East-Central European Minorities on 23 May 2013. The venue is RIL-HAS ground-floor auditorium (1068 Budapest, Benczúr utca 33).The most elementary contribution of visual research to sociolinguistic description of a given community, area or city has been to ask how different minority languages are displayed and interpreted in the Linguistic Landscape (LL). In the recent past, there has been an emerging body of LL related research on East-Central Europe, too. However, most often the focus has been on other issues and coordinated research on the region has yet not appeared.
The primary aim of this conference is to provide description and analysis of Hungarian paired minorities LL’s in Hungary and beyond. We search for insights from both research in progress as well as related previous theoretical and practical ventures. Explorative studies and new openings are most welcome both on theory and practice. There is an urgent need for a concerted, theoretically robust and methodologically solid research due to recurrent local and international legal and political turmoil on visual use of minority languages in East-Central Europe since the fall of socialism in the region. This conference is aimed to go beyond documentation, observation and cataloguing of the LL in order to provide avenues of systematic interpretation. In line with previous LL research, we encourage interdisciplinary approaches. Both synchronic and historical viewpoints are welcomed. Explorations to language varieties in the LL, vernacular or dialectal LL, as well as unconventional visual literacies are among the desiderata. Presentations will engage also in the analysis of concrete signs, too.
The conference is free of charge for audience, advance registration is requested. Please register here.
For more information, contact the Organizing committee: email@example.com
Chair: CSILLA BARTHA Research Centre for Multilingualism, RIL HAS and Eötvös Loránd University
Secretary: PETTERI LAIHONEN Research Centre for Multilingualism, RIL HAS (visiting researcher), University of Jyväskylä/Academy of Finland
Members: ISTVÁN CSERNICSKÓ Ferenc Rákóczi II Transcarpathian Hungarian Institute, Antal Hodinka Institute, Ukraine
ISTVÁN HORVÁTH Romanian Instute for Research on National Minorities, Babes-Bolyai University
ZOLTÁN ILYÉS HAS Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Minority Studies
JÁNOS PÉNTEK Babes-Bolyai University, Szabó T. Attila Linguistic Institute, Romania
GIZELLA SZABÓMIHÁLY Constantine the Philosopher University, Gramma Language Office, Slovakia
SZILVIA SZOTÁK Imre Samu Institute of Linguistics, Austria
CSILLA BARTHA (chair) RIL-HAS and ELTE
PETTERI LAIHONEN (co-chair), RIL-HAS, University of Jyväskylä/Academy of Finland
SZABOLCS VARJASI (secretary), ELTE
JULIANNA BOKOR, ELTE
HELGA HATTYÁR, RIL-HAS and ELTE
ZOLTÁN ILYÉS, HAS Centre for Social Sciences, Institute for Minority Studies
LINDA LABANCZ, RIL-HAS
NOÉMI NAGY, RIL-HAS
TAMÁS PÉTER SZABÓ, RIL-HAS
University Campus Fryslân (UCF) is launching a new MA programme in Multilingualism in September 2013. To celebrate the launch of this new programme, we are organising the conference Multilingualism: The Key Debates. The conference will be held from 12 to 14 September in the only officially multilingual province of the Netherlands: Fryslân. All information about the event can be found here: sites.google.com/site/multilingualismthekeydebates
Over the course of two and a half days, a general scientific conference programme will take place during the day. In the afternoons and early evenings, eight renowned scientists will meet to debate longstanding and pressing questions about multilingualism. The four key questions are:
Is language an innate property of humans, or is it something acquired?
Does learning a new language change the way we think?
Is it possible to reverse the trend when a speaker group has started to language shift?
Should language planning and policy protect linguistic diversity or promote linguistic homogeneity?
The debates will be open to the general public. The confirmed debaters are:
Daniel L. Everett
Geoffrey K. Pullum
Abram de Swaan
Our conference also consists of a scientific programme that takes place during the day. For this general part of the conference researchers are invited to submit proposals for 20-minute presentations (plus 10 minutes for questions) relating to any aspect of research into multilingualism (or bilingualism). Topics may cover (but are not limited to)
• Multilingual education
• Second language learning
• Generative linguistics
• Language planning and policy making
• Language contact and change in multilingual communities
• Generative approaches to multilingualism
• Language contact and change in bidialectal communities
• Multilingual speech processing
• Neurological foundations of multilingualism
• Receptive multilingualism
• Language attrition
• Language shift and loss
• Multilingual language development
Abstracts should not exceed 400 words, and can be uploaded at linguistlist.org/confservices/multiling2013
For queries about the conference, please contact multiling2013 at UCF dot nl
The International Association of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP) and The International Communication Association (ICA) have teamed up with SOAS, University of London and Mercator/ Fryske Akademy to organise a one day symposium at SOAS (University of London) on 17.06.2013 as a Pre-ICA conference on the theme of "Multilingual & Multicultural Communication". As a consequence of globalisation and technological advances in recent decades, there has been an exponential increase in daily multilingual contacts in urban environments around the world. Thus London is home to several hundred languages while a recent estimate suggested that New York has over 800. Prominent researchers have been invited to not only present their own work, but to also participate in a roundtable designed to work towards a testable interdisciplinary model of multilingual commmucation. The presenting researchers include Howard Giles (USA), Francois Grin (Switzerland), Anne Pauwels (UK), Rupert Brown (UK), Jean Marc Dewaele (UK), Lid KIng (UK), Li Wei (UK), Cor van der Meer (The Netherlands), Riener Salverda (The Netherlands), Dina Mehmedbegović (UK) & Itesh Sachdev (UK).
Venue: SOAS (U of London), Rm 211, Vernon Sq, Penton Rise, London WC1X 9EW.
Registration: by 10th June at the latest.
Send cheque payable to "SOAS (Univ of London)" for 20 pounds sterling (50% discount for students and unwaged). Address for sending cheques: Prof. I. Sachdev, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh St, London WC1H 0XG.
Please note that places are limited (60 max) so register early!
The full program is available from firstname.lastname@example.org
The Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism, representing 23 pan-European NGOs, welcomes the acknowledgement in the European Commission's Communication Rethinking Education that multilingualism is considered a priority, particularly through the Commission working staff document on language skills. However, we regret that these two documents focus mainly on growth, employment, skills and tools, with no mention of the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity.
The Communication's concentration on economic aspects is understandable in the light of the present world crisis. Too narrow a focus can be self-defeating, however. Economic improvement needs more innovation, which in turn needs more creativity. And creativity needs to be stimulated through creative learning environments, innovative new tools, and through continuous integration of the arts and culture in learning environments. There is ample evidence to show that the regular use of several languages actively stimulates creativity, and thus could make a direct contribution to solving Europe's economic problems.
A key element in European educational policy is that intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding of the diverse cultures living in Europe need to be fostered, and European values, such as solidarity, promotion of education, social inclusion and equality need to be strengthened. These issues should remain on top of the multilingualism agenda even in times of economic crisis, and should be considered in the implementation of this Communication and included in the next Communications from the Commission. The Platform calls upon European policymakers to recognize and utilize the role of culture in all of its expressions (including theatre, cinema, literature, song, etc.) and the importance of the circulation of cultural works in the promotion of linguistic diversity and multilingualism. Culture is per se a transnational, multilingual phenomenon and thus a key motivator for language learning.
Effective language learning is a lifelong process. Neither the Europe 2020 goals nor the ET2020 objectives are achievable if adults are not also targeted. The Platform regrets the Communication’s lack of attention to adult language learning, in particular in non-formal contexts. A more structured approach is needed, including targeted assessments, focused policies and specific funding.
We particularly regret that the Communication neither endorsed nor even mentioned the policy recommendations made by the Civil Society Platform to promote Multilingualism, published in 2011, which offer several specific and innovative proposals to foster multilingualism and contribute to the Europe 2020 goals, particularly that of lowering the percentage of early school-leavers to below 10%, with obvious consequences for the economy and society generally. In the context of the Rethinking Education Communication, the Platform's recommendations on education deserve particular attention, especially in the field of early learning language, adult language education, the need to explore scientifically which second language most encourages subsequent language learning, and the role of language to promote social inclusion and equality. Attitudes towards language learning need to change from a very early age, and the teaching of languages should consider the combination of knowledge and skills in appropriate learning environments that engage the citizens and stimulate all senses.
Above all, the link between multilingualism and economic progress needs to be acknowledged, e.g. language and cross-cultural communication competence clearly aids economic localisation activities. It is possible to do things better, while costing less.
List of all 23 platform members
• EEE-YFU-Youth For Understanding
• Federation of European Publishers
• RECIT-Réseau européen des centres internationaux de traduction littéraire
• Culturelink Network
• Literature Across Frontiers
• EFIL - European Federation for Intercultural Learning
• CEATL-Conseil européen des associations de traducteurs littéraires
• CMFE Community Media Forum Europe
• FAEY-Fundación Academia Europea de Yuste
• FUEV-Föderalistische Union Europäischer Volksgruppen
• EAEA-European Association for the Education of Adults
• CEPI-European Coordination of Independent Producers
• European Theatre Convention
• ELEN - Eurolang Brussels
• ECA-European Council of Artists
• ALTE - Association of Language Testers in Europe
• EEU -Eŭropa Esperanto-Unio
• European Association for Terminology
• The European Forum for Vocational Education and Training (EfVET)
• Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres
• ECSWE-European Council For Steiner Waldorf Education -
• EFNIL - European Federation of National Institutions for Language
List of 6 Associate Partners
• AEGEE – Association des états généraux des étudiants de l'Europe
• E@I – Education at Internet
• EUATC - European Union of Associations of Translation Companies
• EAHIL – European Association for Health Information and Libraries
• AEBR – Association of European Border Regions
• NPLD – Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity
The Advisory Committee to the Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM) visited the Netherlands on March 19-21 for monitoring the Framework with regard to the Frisians in Fryslân, and the Roma & Sinti living in the diaspora in the Netherlands.
The regional minister for Frisian language and cultural affairs, mrs. Jannewietske de Vries (picture), expressed the threats for the use of Frisian in the near future. Scaling up processes in public authorities and primary education, and spread of courts, will have huge consequences for the use of Frisian as the common language of (oral) communication. The Frisian Language Act, which is on the national parliament’ agenda this spring, should guarantee the accessibility of those domains and the availability of enough bilingual and trilingual schools in Fryslân.
The scaling up process of public authorities (= less provinces) also affects the responsibility for Frisian language and Culture, and will limit language promotion possibilities through cultural affairs and social cohesion.
At the same time, the Dutch government wants to centralise all regional broadcast provisions, neglecting the special remit of Omrop Fryslân.
The Advisory Committee paid special attention to the dialogue between central government and the NGOs representing common people, such as the Council of the Frisian Movement, and the Netherlands' Europeesk Buro foar Lytse Talen (EBLT) which covers more than 20 organisations actively promoting Frisian and Lower-Saxon.
The Advisory Committee’s report will be discussed with the Dutch government, and is expected to be published in September.
On March 1st the Mercator Research Centre of the Fryske Akademy organised a symposium as part of the Language Rich Europe project, in cooperation with the British Council. This was the third symposium in a series of three symposia organised in the Netherlands, taking the Language Rich Europe report on language policy and practice as a starting point to look more specifically at the situation in the Netherlands. At this third symposium there was a specific focus on the province of Fryslân. The symposium started with a presentation by Professor Guus Extra on the LRE project, its outcomes in general, and the results with regard to minority languages in particular. Tsjerk Bottema, of the Province of Fryslân, then spoke about the development of language policy of the province. During the second part of the symposium, participants discussed in smaller groups and formulated policy recommendations. One of the outcomes of the discussions was that language data are crucial for sound policy development; those data should cover all languages within a region, including immigrant and regional languages. Another point that was made is that mother languages (if different from the state language) should be given more status. Finally, it was stressed that both the quality and quantity of Frisian language education should be improved.
A summary of the news for February 2013.
During the 34th TABU Dag, an annual linguistic conference in Groningen, The Netherlands, a workshop on minority languages in a multilingual Europe will be organised on Thursday June 13th 2013 from 13:30 until 18:00.
In Europe, 23 official languages and more than 30 regional and minority languages are spoken. The European Union considers respecting and protecting the linguistic diversity within the European Union to be one of its most prominent responsibilities, because it forms the cultural identity of its citizens. But how can this goal be achieved, with so many languages and language varieties being spoken in the European Union, the smallest of them sometimes only by around 1000 speakers? How can a minority language be maintained in a period of globalisation? Are language policies the way to maintain a minority language or can they sometimes be counterproductive? Which other factors play a role?
Topics of the workshop will be:
The plenary speaker of the workshop is Jeroen Darquennes from the University of Namur. During the workshop four other speakers will get the chance to present their work on European minority languages. We invite short abstracts of no more than 300 words, excluding title, author names, keywords, data and references. Abstracts should be submitted in .pdf or .txt format. Time allotted for presentations is 20 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of discussion.
On the 21rst of February, International Mother Language Day, the NPLD has organised its first annual conference in the EU grant period 2013-2015 in Brussels. The Mother Language Days is proclaimed by the UNESCO, and since the year 2000 celebrated annually and worldwide. The title of the conference was: “Languages? Let’s be Franca! How to develop true linguistic diversity". In her opening speech, NPLD president mrs. Jannewietske DE VRIES, regional minister for finances, tourism and cultural affairs of the province of Friesland (Netherlands), stressed the importance of the NPLD and its activities at three levels: (1) the European bodies of the European Commission, the EU Parliament and the Council of Europe; (2) the multilingual regions and communities, and the related responsible authorities; (3) the national governments of the 27 EU member states. All three levels are likewise important for the creating of a balanced language policy, which should be based on the principle of the subsidiarity and co-responsibility of all authorities involved, each in its own rights and duties.
President Jannewietske DE VRIES referred to the European Treaty which appeals for the respect of cultural, religious and linguistic diversity. She argued, that it is time to transmit good words into real practice now. It is time to shape real diversity by concrete actions aiming at a balanced language policy of the EU, that should be realised within the EU budget period 2014-2020. The EU Agenda Horizon 2020 is focussing on work and mobility of people and capital, creating new technological tools and structures in favour of job opportunities and economic growth. Those aspects are very important indeed. However, Europe is not and should not become a European super organisation of the banks and the capitals, but instead Europe should grow into and flourish as a community of the peoples in all diversities. She stressed the importance to include in the EU agenda the use of social media as appropriate tools and cool incentives for the younger citizens and less literate people, and to encourage the flexible use of languages in their written forms.
In the closing remarks, NPLD President Jannewietske DE VRIES appealed that the EU, in the perspective of the European Treaty, the Framework Convention as well as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, should feel responsible for all languages of the EU citizens: not only the 23 (but in fact only 3) official languages, but also the migrant languages, regional-minority languages and smaller state languages and the related cultures. With reference to the good examples of Australia and Canada, and with reference to the UNESCO concept of Language Vitality, the EU should develop a holistic and inclusive policy on Linguistic Diversity. For the people themselves, the bilingual or multilingual speakers within the families, in schools, in public life, the NPLD and the Roadmap Towards Linguistic Diversity can increase the awareness of the benefits of multilingualism, and can also provide organisations with an inspiring perspective for young people. She concluded with the evocation: “Let us create a real common Europe for our young people who are living and working, studying and dancing with a European future in mind which is full of languages.”
In January 2013 the Mercator Research Centre as lead partner of the Mercator Network organised the kick-off meeting for their new project called LEARNMe (Language and Education Adressed through Research and Networking by Mercator).
What is this project about?
Less widely spoken languages have very special needs when it comes to education. Often practitioners but also policy makers are overstrained when it comes to finding solutions for these needs. One aim of this project is to provide policy guidelines/recommendations for policy stakeholders in the field as well as for practitioners. These guidelines/recommendations are meant to provide a very practical outline of how multilingual needs of less used languages can be approached. Read more...
Thus besides providing a comprehensive outline of the present conditions, and setting up a network, the overall aim of our work is to elaborate different strategic tools in order to help transforming the conceptual formulation of and social response to the current linguistic arrangements. Due to rapid changes in terms of international and national legislation, increasing role of civil society, constant mobility, economic uncertainty, changing socio-economic composition and education level of the citizens, linguistic assimilation takes place more rapidly than before.
Another aim of this project will be to find how implicit or explicit policies on multilingualism and linguistic diversity can be effective through education and for what purposes, in theory and in practice. Education in this context is understood in a wide definition, including formal and informal education, adult education, and outside school education. For this purpose it will be necessary to find out how the terms minority language and language diversity are understood in policy terms. Then it will need to be investigated how this is put into practice and what languages are involved whether they are standardised or also non-standardised.
The people involved in our project will be experts, educators, community organisations, grassroots organisations, researchers, policy makers of different fields and all levels.
The 25th of January was a memorial day: employees, members and donators of the Fryske Akademy celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Fryske Akademy, the 25th anniversary of Mercator and…the 75th anniversary of research associate Tseard de Graaf, who has made an enormous effort to save endangered languages.
Lectures were given by Durk Gorter of the University of the Basque Country, Jeroen Darquennes of the University of Namur, Anna Pauwels of the SOAS (School for Oriental and African Studies), Victor Denisov of the Russian Udmurt Institute for History, Language and Literature, Cecilia Odé of the University of Amsterdam and Tseard de Graaf (Fryske Akademy). The latter three focussed on saving endangered languages: how adventurous, hard but also valuable this is.
Besides the lectures, a memorandum of understanding between the Faculty of Language & Culture, SOAS, University of London and the Fryske Akademy / Mercator was signed by Anna Pauwels (dean of the SOAS, Faculty of Language & Culture) and Reinier Salverda (managing director of the Fryske Akademy) (picture).
At the end, De Graaf received the medal of honour of the Fryske Akademy for his scientific effort and afterwards the congress visitors could have a drink and a chat. The symposium was visited by about one hundred people.
Pictures of the symposium are available here.