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Europa nei Fryslân en Fryslân nei Europa

It Mercator Europeesk Kennissintrum is fêstige yn de minderheidstalenprovinsje Fryslân. As ûndersyksynstituut makket Mercator tankber gebrûk fan de mooglikheden dy't de Fryske sitewaasje biede kin as in laboratoarium fan meartaligens. Tagelyk makket Mercator foaroprinnend ûndersyk en oare nijsgjirrige ûntjouwings út oare minderheidstalenregio's tagonklik foar beliedsmakkers en oare belanghawwenden yn Fryslân.

Mercator brûkt it eigen netwurk en dat fan oaren om ûndersikers en oaren yn 'e kunde komme te litten mei de twatalige mienskip dy't Fryslân is. Sa ûntfong Mercator de ôfrûne jierren yn Ljouwert ferskate ynternasjonale dosintengroepen út it primêr en fuortset ûnderwiis, mar ek ôffeardigen fan taalakademys fan oer de hiele wrâld en ûndersikers dy't stipe nedich hiene by harren ûndersyk nei meartaligens of nei Fryslân kamen foar ien fan de ferskate ynternasjonale konferinsjes dy't Mercator (mei)organisearre. Mercator wie ek it staazjebedriuw foar ynternasjonale staazjes.

Ynternasjonale gearwurking


Mercator is aktyf belutsen by it betinken en útfieren fan ûndersyksprojekten yn gearwurking mei renomearre Europeeske ûndersyksynstituten en universiteiten. Derby is altyd omtinken foar de Fryske taal en it Fryske ûnderwiissysteem. Hjirûnder fine jo mear ynformaasje oer de netwurken en organisaasjes dêr't Mercator de ôfrûne jierren faak mei gearwurke hat.

Klik op in namme foar mear ynformaasje ↓↓

The longest-running partnership of the Mercator Research Centre is the Mercator Network. This Network was founded in 1987, and at that time consisted of three institutions: Mercator Education (the forerunner of Mercator European Research Centre), Mercator Legislation (CIEMEN, University of Barcelona, Spain) and Mercator Media (University of Aberystwyth, United Kingdom). Each focused on a different aspect of multilingualism and the position of minority languages. Since then the network has existed in various forms, and gradually expanded with the Research Institute for Linguistics - Eötvös Loránd Research Network (Budapest, Hungary) and the Institute for Slavic and Baltic languages, Finnish, Dutch and German (University of Stockholm, Sweden).

After the EU funded LEARNMe project (Language and Education Addressed through Research and Networking by Mercator) ended in 2016, the partners in the Mercator Network continued working together, as in the publishing of the monthly Mercator Network Newsletter (see Chapter 6). More than 170 editions have been sent to almost 2,500 subscribers all over the world. Since June 2007 (edition #31), the Mercator European Research Centre is responsible for these Newsletters, filled with information about the activities of the Mercator Network partners, minority language education and policy changes in Europe and upcoming conferences concerning minority languages.

The European Civil Society Platform on Multilingualism is a very active platform. Many European and Canadian scientists and universities are members: the Mercator European Research Centre is a member of the board. The ECSPM is an alliance for the languages spoken in Europe, as well as for research, policies on and practices of multilingualism, making possible the cooperation between European, national, and international networks, organisations, federations, research units (e.g., university centres and institutes) that view multilingualism as an asset for European economic, social, cultural development, and as a facilitator for intellectual growth, social, and personal development.

Since 2017, ECSPM holds a symposium every year which is hosted by one of the partner institutions. The Mercator European Research Centre was invited to speak at the ECSPM Conferences in Athens (2017) on the theme ‘Beyond Language Barriers’, and in Darmstadt (2018) on the subject of ‘Paradigm Shift in Language Education’. Due to conflicting schedules, it was impossible to send a delegate to the 2019 ECSPM Conference in Reading (UK), but Mercator was invited again to speak during the 2020 ECSPM Conference on ‘Linguistic & Cultural (Super)Diversity at Work’. This edition was held as an online event due to the Covid-19 pandemic and was hosted by the University of Tilburg. The 2021 edition will be hosted by the University of Konstanz (DE).

Between 2017 and 2020, two general assemblies were held in Athens and Darmstadt, for which the Mercator European Research Centre was also invited.

The Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) is the European umbrella organisation of the autochthonous, national minorities/ ethnic groups in Europe. For the province of Fryslân, the Rie foar de Fryske Beweging (Council of the Frisian Movement) is the official partner, but on several occasions, Mercator cooperated with the FUEN, for example in 2017 and 2018 with the campaign on the Minority SafePack European Citizens’ Initiative, a petition demanding a protection package for national minorities.

Mercator helped with the dissemination of the campaign to collect as many signatures as possible. Digital mailings and reminders were sent to local, national and international partner institutes and to the subscribers of the Mercator Network Newsletter. Mercator teamed up with other Frisian institutes to give this campaign as much public attention as possible. When the European Commission decided in January 2021 not to propose new laws in response to the Minority SafePack Initiative, that garnered 1.1 million signatures across the EU, the FUEN published an open letter to the president of the European Commission, Mrs Von der Leyen, which Mercator publicly supported.

When the annual FUEN conference was held in Leeuwarden (Fryslân) in 2018, Mercator was invited to talk about Fryslân and the Frisian language and to give a presentation on language equality.

The Mercator European Research Centre has been a member of the LANGSCAPE network since 2014. LANGSCAPE is an international research network engaging in plurilingualism, language education and language learning. The network is currently coordinated by Professor Stephan Breidbach from the Humboldt University in Berlin. The Erasmus+ funded ENROPE project (see Chapter 5), that started in the second half of 2018 and runs until September 2021, has emerged from the co-operative activities within the LANGSCAPE group. Mercator played an very important role in the preparation and writing of the grant application.

In the fall of 2017, the Mercator European Research Centre invited the LANGSCAPE network to Leeuwarden for a two day seminar on ‘Multilingualism: minority & majority perspectives’. The conference was combined with a special doctoral seminar that was organised by the LANGSCAPE network itself.

The Mercator European Research Centre works closely with different language academies throughout Europe. In 2017, Euskaltzaindia (Royal Academy of the Basque Language) and Mercator have signed an agreement for cooperation between the two institutes, the start of a new European network.

This cooperation took shape in January 2019, when Mercator and five other European institutes supported a new agreement, initiated by the Euskaltzaindia, to defend the rights of speakers of lesser-used languages. Its aims are to promote and disseminate scientific research, strengthen interinstitutional relationships and create a network of academies. The other partners in this agreement are the language academies and research institutes Real Academia Galega, Institut d'Estudis Catalans, EURAC Research and Lo Congrès Permanent de la Lenga Occitana.

The Mercator European Research Centre joined the LITHME Network in 2020. The focus of LITHME lies on the ethical implications of emerging language technologies. Inequality of access to technologies, questions of privacy and security, new vectors for deception and crime; these and other critical issues would be kept to the fore.

LITHME has members from every European Union member state, plus a number of countries outside of the EU. It is a so called COST Network (European Cooperation in Science and Technology), funded through the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020, which provides networking opportunities for researchers and innovators in order to strengthen Europe’s capacity to address scientific, technological and societal challenges.

The Mercator European Research Centre is a long-standing associate member of the Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD), a Europe wide network that in some cases receives co-EU funding. Mercator’s representative is a member of the steering committee of the NPLD. In 2019, two Mercator researchers started working on a research project funded by the NPLD, on the accessibility of European programs and subsidies for Regional and Minority Languages. The research report was finished at the end of 2020 and presented in the spring of 2021. 

In 2018, the Mercator European Research Centre was invited to join the NPLD-Coppieters Campus for NPLD members working in language policy planning. The Campus was aimed to give the necessary tools for planning and evaluation of language policies of CRSS (Constitutional, Regional or Small-State) languages and contribute to an exchange of best practices among members.

The Network of Schools (NOS) is an online network of multilingual schools in Europe, maintained by the Mercator European Research Centre. It brings together more than 98 member schools divided over 22 countries. Its aim is to facilitate contact between the schools, to encourage them to share information, and to provide them with news about developments and research in multilingualism in general and multilingual education in particular. The Network of Schools sends out a Bulletin four times a year, and occasionally publishes Newsflashes, when schools are looking for foreign schools to set up exchange programmes.

Contacts with the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities (HCNM) are positive, professional and quite frequent. Contacts have been established with representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Macedonia and Moldova, meetings were often set up in The Hague. In some cases, the Mercator European Research Centre received invitations to join expert delegations to these regions.

In 2017, Mercator was part of an OSCE delegation to Kiev in the Ukraine, and in 2019 Mercator was invited to join a conference on multilingual education in Chisinau in Moldova, which was organised by the office of the High Commissioner on National Minorities of the OSCE and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of Moldova.

The cooperation between the Mercator European Research Centre and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) from the University of London and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation (CiDLeS, from Portugal) is functioning very well: the institutions complement each other in an effective way. Regular contacts resulted in successful conferences and seminars throughout Europe, where Mercator researchers were always invited to give presentations.

New ideas for projects are constantly being exchanged and discussed. In recent years, work has been done within  the framework of the OWRI project. The project was coordinated by the University of Manchester; SOAS and Mercator worked closely together on surveys and interviews. Other partners involved were INALCO in Paris, Humboldt Universität in Berlin, the American Councils for International Education and others. The focus of this research initiative was on the intersection between multilingualism, ‘heritage’ languages and higher education.

SOAS and Mercator also worked on a project proposal in the CULT-COOP programme of the European Union.

The Mercator European Research Centre values its cooperation with UNESCO. This cooperation is most commonly focused on the development of a World Language Atlas, for which Mercator published a technical working paper in 2017, after a meeting with a UNESCO representative took place in Leeuwarden. The basis for this work lies in the outstanding work of the Foundation of Endangered Languages (FEL) who developed and maintains the Atlas for Endangered Languages. Mercator’s honorary research fellow Dr Tjeerd de Graaf is a board member of the FEL.

In 2018, together with the province of Fryslân, Mercator gathered information for UNESCO’s new Atlas of World Languages. Information was collected on the Frisian language with the help of Afûk, Omrop Fryslân, and linguists from the Fryske Akademy. Information about Dutch sign language, Low Saxon, Papiamento, Limburgish, Bildts, and Jiddisj was collected with the help of the Nederlands Gebarencentrum, SONT (Samenwerkende Organisaties in het Nedersaksisch Taalgebied), SPLIKA, the Limburgisch streektaalfunctionaris, Stichting Bildts Aigene and Stichting Jiddisj. The Nederlandse Roma Vereniging was contacted, but this did not result in actual exchange of information about Romani. Romani was suggested to UNESCO as a language spoken in the Netherlands, but the survey sent contained relatively little information.

The Atlas of World Languages will be a long term process as many institutes and regions need to come on board and need to agree on the standards.

For a number of years, the Mercator European Research Centre has an agreement for co-operation with the Yamal-Nenets region in Russia. Mercator’s honorary research fellow Dr Tjeerd de Graaf has played a major role in initiating this co-operation, as he is affiliated with the Foundation for Siberian Cultures in Germany, the Centre for Russian Studies at Groningen University and the Foundation for Endangered Languages in the United Kingdom.

The co-operation has led to the writing of the Regional Dossier about the Nenets, Khanty and Selkup languages in the Yamal Region, published in English (2016) and in Russian (2017). A Regional Dossier about the Udmurt language in education in the Udmurt Republic (Russia) was published in 2019 in English and Russian as well. The Yamal-Nenets government has agreed to pay for the translation and printing costs for the Russian versions.

Delegates from the Yamal-Nenets region visited Leeuwarden and Fryslân for the Frisian Humanities Conference (2018) and the International Conference on Minority Languages (2019), both organised by the Mercator European Research Centre. Dr Tjeerd de Graaf, in turn, was invited as speaker at a conference in Saint Petersburg (Russia).

Partners of the COMBI project


It Mercator Europeesk Kennissintrum is kontinu belutsen by ynternasjonale gearwurkingsprojekten. Mei partners út Europeeske lannen, mar ek út Noard- en Súd Amearika en Afrika, wurket Mercator oan in grut ferskaat oan projekten op it mêd fan meartaligens en taallearen.

Yn de lêste jierren hat Mercator by sokke ûndersyksprojekten meastal de rol fan de koördinearjende of disseminearjende partner op him nommen. Dizze projekten krije finansjele stipe fan Europeeske fûnsen.  

In oersjoch fan al ús projekten fine jo op ús Projektpagina.

Regionale gearwurking

Partners yn de regio

It Mercator Kennissintrum is grutsk op de goede relaasjes mei de partnerynstituten yn de regio. It sprekt fansels dat hjirta ek de provinsjale oerheid fan Fryslân heart, in wichtige finansjele stiper foar it Mercator Kennissintrum.

Yn de ôfrinnende jierren hat it Mercator Kennissintrum gearwurke mei of wurksemheden útfierd foar, ûnder mear, de Gemeente Leeuwarden, de Gemeente Het Bildt en oare ynstituten (sjoch yn de tabel hjirûnder):

Klik op in namme foar mear ynformaasje ↓↓

Afûk, which was founded in 1928, is an organisation in Fryslân that promotes the Frisian language and culture. In doing so it has an important role in the cultural network of Fryslân and works closely together with the Province of Fryslân to implement language and cultural policy in Fryslân. The Afûk offers and developes Frisian language courses for adults, develops educational programmes, publishes (e)-books, apps and magazines in Frisian and creates and implements a range of projects concerning language promotion.

The Mercator European Research Centre and Afûk Thave common goals in the field of minority languages and therefore like to cooperate with each other in provincial and international projects. Between 2017 and 2020, the institutions worked together in the production of a Frisian MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), in the international project LangUp with partners from Peru, Argentina and Portugal, and they have written a research proposal and grant application for the project ‘New Speakers of West Frisian: Promoting Language Learning and Use to Foster Revitalisation’, which will take shape in 2021.

The Europeesk Buro foar Lytse Talen (EBLT) in Leeuwarden was founded in 1984 and provides promotion and protection of Frisian and Low Saxon in the Netherlands and in the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe. The EBLT consists of representatives of 22 organisations, who strive for the position of Frisian, Low Saxon, Bildts, Limburgs and Papiamentu. In 2009, the EBLT and the Mercator European Research Centre established a cooperation agreement, that made Mercator responsible for e.g. the secretariat and the website of EBLT. In addition, the partners jointly organise different activities on the annual European Day of Languages and annual presentations and film viewings in the light of the International Day of the Mother Language.

The Mercator European 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 affiliated with the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and is a part of the institute and research organisation of the KNAW.

Mercator is housed in the building of the Fryske Akademy and makes use of all administrative and practical facilities there. The lines with other language and history experts are therefore short, which is definitely an added value in the many research projects that Mercator carries out or conferences that are (jointly) being organised.

The Lectorate Multilingualism and Literacy at the NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences in Leeuwarden collects and researches the knowledge and experiences of professionals and students in the field of multilingualism and literacy and offers tools and solutions for educational practice. Mercator works together with the Lectorate on various projects, such as the EU-funded project VirtuLApp and the research projects 3M and Holi-Frysk. The researchers from both institutions also always know how to find each other when it comes to giving presentations at each other’s conferences.

Already for some time, academic institutes in the north of the Netherlands dealing with the Frisian language and issues of multilingualism (University of Groningen, NHL Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Fryske Akademy, University Campus Fryslân and the Mercator European Research Centre) have expressed their intention to work more closely together to create a Multilingualism Laboratory Network. This process got a boost when Leeuwarden/ Fryslân was the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018. From 2019 on, Mercator/ Fryske Akademy took a more active role in the arrangement of meetings, writing work documents and the development of a website, but all came to a standstill due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary closure of all Dutch universities.

Campus Fryslân, also called the 11th faculty of the University of Groningen, is a unique faculty based in Leeuwarden. Multiple disciplines are represented and they are dedicated to finding local solutions for real-world global challenges. Mercator and Campus Fryslân/ University of Groningen work together in the COLING project, a European Horizon2020 funded project that promotes and develops sustainable measures for language revitalisation and maintenance. Researchers from Mercator regularly organise presentations for teachers and students and they worked together on the writing of fact sheets for the Wiki on Minority Language Education.

At the end of 2020, Mercator became one of the associated partners in the project 'Revoicing Cultural Landscapes: narratives, perspectives, and performances of marginalised Intangible Cultural Heritage' (RCL-ICH). The Chair of Frisian Language and Literature at the University of Groningen was awarded a JP ICH 2020 grant (Horizon 2020) for this international comparative research on intangible heritage. This project is part of an international collaboration with universities in Great Britain (Falmouth University, Cornwall), Latvia (University of Latvia) and Estonia (University of Tartu). From 2021 onwards, the project will really take shape.

Dingtiid, the the governmental advisory body for the Frisian language, asked Mercator to investigate the Dutch authorities’ compliance with the European Charter for Minority and Regional Languages (ECRML), and to investigate the role that the Frisian language plays in the merger processes of four municipalities. The reports were presented to the Dutch Minister of the Interior and Kingdom Relations, Mrs. Kajsa Ollongren and to Deputy Sietske Poepjes of the province of Fryslân.

More information:
Report 'Posysje Frysk ferbetterje troch effisjintere gearwurking Ryk en Europa'
Report 'De rol fan it Frysk by gemeentlike weryndielingen yn Fryslân'