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About Mercator Research Centre

The Mercator Research Centre is hosted by the Fryske Akademy (Frisian Academy), the centre for scientific research on all aspects of Frisian language, history and culture. The Fryske Akademy is part of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW). It is part of the Mercator Network.

Mission

The mission of the Mercator Research Centre is the acquisition and inventory, research and study, dissemination and application of knowledge in the field of language learning at school, at home and through cultural participation. Its work is mostly focused on the regional and minority languages in Europe, but immigrant languages and smaller state languages are also topics of study. 

The Mercator Research Centre is situated in the minority-language province of Fryslân. As a research institute, the centre wants to make use of the excellent opportunities the Frisian situation has to offer as a living laboratory on multilingualism. At the same time, Mercator makes state-of-the-art research and interesting developments from other minority-language regions available to relevant stakeholders in Fryslân. In other words, the Mercator Research Centre brings Fryslân to Europe and Europe to Fryslân. 

History

Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning began in 1987 as Mercator Education, one of the three institutions of the Mercator Network. The foundation of the Mercator Network was initiated by the European Commission and the direct result of two resolutions by the European Parliament: the ‘Kuijpers resolution’ (Resolution on the languages and cultures of regional and ethnic minorities in the European Community) and the 'Arfé resolution'. 

In the following 20 years the network was subsidized through earmarked funding (sometimes matched by host organisations in regional and minority language regions, such as the Fryske Akademy). After an extension funding programme called 'action programme' in 2004 – 2006, this earmarked funding ended. Currently, Mercator European Research Centre receives an annual subsidy from the province of Fryslân, which funds part of the day-to-day operations. A substantial part of the work is financed through temporary project funding.

Products

For those interested in minority language (education), Mercator has various products on offer: 

  • Our long-running series of Regional Dossiers offers information on the educational status of a large number of minority languages. 
  • Even more information can be found in various reports and publications. Mercator Research Centre is also available for commissioned research.
  • The Database of Experts contains around 600 experts on various topics relating to minority languages, multilingualism and language education.
  • The monthly Mercator Newsletter contains interesting news from the Research Centre and an overview of upcoming events.
  • For specific questions on multilingualism or minority language education, you can contact us directly.

About the images on the home page

Map of Europe from the Atlas sive Cosmographicae

Made by the Fleming Gerardus Mercator (1512 – 1594). Gerardus Mercator was a cartographer, geographer and cosmographer. He developed the Mercator projection, still widely used today.

 

The Concourse of Birds

Painted by Habiballah of Sava (active ca. 1590–1610, Iran). The illustration depicts a scene from a mystical poem, Mantiq al-tair (Language of the Birds), written by a twelfth-century Iranian, Farid al-Din 'Attar. The birds, which symbolize individual souls in search of the simurgh (a mystical bird representing ultimate spiritual unity), are assembled in an idyllic landscape to begin their pilgrimage under the leadership of a hoopoe (perched on a rock at center right) (source: Metropolitan Museum of Art).