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Mirjam Vellinga

January 2015

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Mirjam Vellinga is project manager for the language promotion division at the Afûk, which is the organisation in Fryslân that promotes the Frisian language and culture.

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

My name is Mirjam Vellinga and I studied Frisian language and literature at the University of Groningen (RuG). After I graduated I got a job at the Afûk, which is the organisation in Fryslân that promotes the Frisian language and culture. I started to work in the bookshop of the Afûk, and after some other functions within the organisation, I became project manager for the language promotion division.

In 2007 I initiated and developed the Praat mar Frysk campaign: an overall language promotion campaign for the Frisian language. The campaign is known for its fun gadgets, use of social media, humour and surprise activities. Next to the Praat mar Frysk campaign I am also involved in projects relating to Frisian in health care, Frisian in business/economics and advising public services on language policy.

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

One of the major challenges in my field of work is to convince and educate the Frisian people that they can use their language proudly, in any circumstance they wish or want. We (Frisians) all tend to have a bit of an inferiority complex, but we also hate it when someone tells us what to do... Another challenge is to get data and insight in behaviour when it comes to how, when and why (and why not) people are using their mother tongue in the case of a minority language.

I am interested in all kinds of research concerning this topic, so tips are very welcome. Also if you have knowledge of interesting projects concerning language promotion, don't hesitate to let me know.

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

At the moment I - and many others- am working on the realisation of a big Language Expo, called 'Lân fan taal' (freely translated it means: home of languages, the website is under construction). It is a long held wish of the Afûk (a.o) to have such a public centre about minority languages and multilingualism in general and the Frisian language in particular. We are hoping this centre will be realized within the plans of Leeuwarden/Ljouwert 2018 (European Capital of Culture).

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

Do you have any questions on these topics?