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First meeting of the Mercator Network

On the 5th March 2009 the five partners of the Mercator Network of Language Diversity Centres had their first face-to-face meeting in order to discuss final details of the Network’s organisation and presentation.

The resolutions of this first meeting are:

  • to reach new generations of minority language experts as well as new generations of minority language users in order to broaden the basis for linguistic diversity
  • to raise public awareness of language related public issues amongst both, speakers and non-speakers of minority and smaller state languages
  • to follow an inclusive approach, with the focal point being the question where language is an influential factor when it comes to social cohesion, economic prosperity and the meaning of regional uniqueness, not only with regard to regional and smaller state languages but also comprising immigrant minorities or sign languages 
  • the promotion of mutual understanding and cooperation is sought. With this the Network shall gain Europe wide importance and influence, e.g. by aiming to feed into the next EU communication.

The Network’s focus is harmonising research in order to complement practical and project oriented work of minority language organisations, with special attention to awareness raising. The underlying thought is that the minority and the majority are not just two separate boxes of people, but a whole and ideally holistic continuum of people using a continuum of values, identities, cultures and languages. As many other EU Networks only reflect nation state languages, the Mercator Network is one of the few EU funded Networks, which includes and labels Regional Minority Languages and immigrant minority languages as part of linguistic diversity and underlines their place in the continuum of state languages, cross border languages, less widely taught and used, minority and regional languages. Within this, special attention shall be given to the accommodation of immigrant and sign languages, whose speakers find themselves confronted with a country’s majority language, the RML as well as with the maintenance of their own language.

It was also stressed that the traditional Mercator task was to provide research results to language planning purposes. The new Mercator Network wants to follow this tradition by focusing on applied research which leads to tangible policy recommendations, which can be implemented in language use situations. New experiences shall be combined with good pre-experiences; results, information and good practice in the field of learning and linguistic diversity shall be exchanged. To get the best outcome, the Network exploits the interdisciplinary composition and its varied expertise of its partners as well as experts invited to the workshops and conferences.

In its efforts the Mercator Network shall seek the contact and co-operation with other European Networks pursuing similar goals. This way steady change in respect to bettering the situation of minority language speakers in Europe shall be created.