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Number 133 - June 2017


The Mercator newsletter informs you about the news of the Mercator Network partners:

Mercator Research Centre (Fryske Akademy)
Mercator Media Mercator Legislation / CUSC-UB
Stockholm University Research Institute for Linguistics

Newsletter focusing on multilingual regions dealing with regional or minority languages, but also immigrant languages and smaller state languages, with emphasis on language needs arising from migration and globalization. Submit your subscription request, comments or suggestions to: Johanneke Buning (Fryske Akademy).

Interesting Links

Mercator presents at the Intergroup meeting, Strassburg

  Intergroup meeting Strassburg

On June 15, 2017, the Intergroup meeting for Traditional Minorities, National Communities and Languages was held in Strassburg. Chaired by Member of the European Parliament, Nils Torvalds, the meeting kicked off with a presentation by Mr. Rafael Rivera of STOA (Scientific Foresight Unit) on their study “Language equality in the digital age – Towards a Human Language Project”.

During the second half, Mercator colleague Cor van der Meer presented on the activities of Mercator European Research Centre, and on topics and current challenges in the field of minority languages.

More information and photos of the meeting are available on the Intergroup Facebook page.

Report of the Multiplier COMBI event

  combi-multiplier event

By: Jidde Jacobi

On the 7th and 8th of June, the first multiplier event of the Erasmus+ COMBI project took place in San Sebastian, Basque Country.

The participants were welcomed by Markel Olano, the head of the local government. In the following presentations, a wide range of topics were discussed such as the status of minority language in healthcare, the best language teaching methods for migrants, and vocational language teaching.

After the presentations, workshops followed in which best practices and novel ideas were shared amongst the attendees. The COMBI project will use this input to refine their Teacher Training Toolkit: a toolkit aimed at improving the opportunities for migrant learners in bilingual working environments.

More information on the COMBI project ia available on the COMBI website.

UNESCO Global Expert Meeting in Siberia


By: Tjeerd de Graaf

From 5 until 9 June 2017 this meeting was organised in Hanty-Mansiysk, one of the Siberian provinces of the Russian Federation. The conference had as a general theme “Multilingualism in Cyberspace for Inclusive Sustainable Development” and it was a continuation of similar meetings organised by the Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO and some other partners.

The event took place in the framework of the UNESCO Information for All Programme and a large International IT Forum took place in those same days. It was attended by nearly 90 participants from 36 different countries.

During the conference Tjeerd de Graaf reported on the work of the Mercator European Research Centre and the Foundation for Siberian Cultures and discussed possibilities for co-operation with representatives of the local Ob-Ugric Institute of Applied research and Development. It might be possible to prepare with them new issues of the Mercator Dossiers about the local Siberian languages, such as Hanty and Mansi, with - as an example - the recent Dossier about the languages of Yamal, the first one with a version in Russian.

Click here to read the conference contribution by Tjeerd de Graaf.

Join the International Social Media Day for Small Languages on Tuesday 26th of September 2017!

  Frisian tweet

By: Mirjam Vellinga

The International Social Media Day for Small Languages is part of the Frisian language promotion campaign Praat mar Frysk by the Afûk. Our aim for on this day is to show and make people aware of language diversity in Europe on Social Media and to connect the different language communities with each other. This initiative is also the start of our activities for European Capital of Culture Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 within the Lân fan Taal-programme.

We want to encourage as many people/organisations/companies as possible to tweet and post in #Cymraeg, #Euskara, #Gaeilge, #Gàidhlig, #Galego, #Kernowek, #Frysk etc. on social media channels, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on the 26th of September, which is also European Day of Languages.

Already, 16 organisations from 16 small language regions/countries have agreed to join the initiative. The Digital Language Diversity Project and Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning will also support the initiative. The communal # will be #EDL2017. Presently, we are building a website that will be live before the end of July.

Interested? Check the Praat mar Frysk website

Minority languages spoken in the European Parliament, Frisian makes its debut

  Jan Huitema at the European Parliament

On June 12th, several minority languages, including Catalan, Valencian, Basque, Galician, and Frisian, were spoken in the European Parliament as part of a session dedicated to Europe’s minority languages. The session was organised by a group of some 60 MEPs representing minority languages to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML).

Jan Huitema, an MEP from Makkinga, province of Fryslân (the Netherlands), delivered a one-minute speech in his province’s native tongue to highlight its cultural and historic significance as the Netherlands’ second language. It was the first time that MEPS in the European Parliament were addressed in the Frisian language.

A row earlier that week led to the decision not to use live translation of the speeches and to exclude them from the Parliament’s official record. According to Huitema the row was mainly due to the delicate position of some minority languages, for instance in Spain: "The relationship between Catalans and Spanjards is tense over there.".

Source:, Vilaweb

Province of Fryslân subsidizes two studies on multilingualism in education at the Fryske Akademy.


In the first project, Mercator Research Centre will work together with three high schools in Frisia to develop methods for secondary education, which are to increase the presence and improve the education of Frisian, as well as education of foreign and migrant languages. Important aim of the project is to make certain all students can use his or her own mother tongue in school.

The methods developed will be tested in a one-year-pilot on the same three high schools. Afterwards, the methods will become available for other high schools in Frisia.

The second project, by the Fryske Akademy's theme group Multilingualism and language learning, is called 'The value of 3TS for monolinguals'. In this project English language skills will be compared between students from the last three classes of mono- bi- and trlingual primary schools.

In addition to financial aid for these two projects the Province of Fryslân also has reserved significant funding for the new online Frisian-Dutch dictionary and the website

The Minority SafePack Initiative is now available for online signatures

  minority safepack logo

The Minority Safepack Initiative, a European Citizen's Initiative that calls "upon the EU to improve the protection of persons belonging to national and linguistic minorities and strengthen cultural and linguistic diversity in the Union", has started collecting signatures. Any person above 18 years old, who is a citizen of a EU Member State, can sign.

The Minority Safepack Initiative was initiated half a decade ago by the Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) with much optimism and political support. However, the European Commission rejected the initiative in September 2013, stating that the initiative fell “manifestly outside the framework of the Commission’s powers”. After a struggle of three-and-a-half years, on February 3, 2017, the EU Court ruled that rejection was unlawful. As a result, the Initiative has finally been registered by the European Commission.

Read more: European Commision Website

Sign the initiative here.

Interesting Links

Use of Sign Language and Cochlear Implants. Article about a recent study in the Journal Pediatrics, on the effect of early exposure to sign language on a later ability to learn speech recognition.

Eurydice webinar. "Key Data on Teaching Languages at School in Europe", Jun 15 2017.

Tweets from the International Symposium on Bilingualism (ISB11). The symposium took place from 11-15th June 2017.

Is this remote Siberian language an ancestor to Navajo?. Podcast by Patrick Cox about the Ket language and its relation to Athabaskan languages in North America, May 24 2017.

Language mobilizations accross Atlantic Europe. Report on the Nationalia website.

How sad that English-speaking parents fear their children being taught in Welsh. Article by Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett in the Guardian.

The beautiful language of the people who talk like birds. Article on the BBC website.


July 3 - July 8, 2017, Barcelona (Spain): : Management of social multilingualism in Catalonia, summer school hosted by CIEMEN.

5 - 7 July 2017, Soria (Spain): III International Colloquium on Languages, Cultures, Identity in School and Society, organized by the Loyola Marymount University School of Education (Los Angeles, California).

28 - 30 August, Jyväskylä (FI) ICML XVI, International Conference.

7 - 9 September, Palma (Balearic Islands) (Spain) Formal Perspectives in the Acquisition of Minority Languages, workshop.

5 - 10 September, Krotoszyn (Poland) 5th International Cross-Curricularity in Language Education Conference, conference.

9 - 16 September 2017, Flensburg (Germany) ECMI Summer School: National minorities and border regions, Deadline: 15 May 2017.

29 September - 30 September, 2017, Koper (Slovenia) Multilingual Education in Linguistically Diverse Contexts, Deadline: 15 May 2017.

12 - 14 October 2017, Leeuwarden (Netherlands) Langscape Conference and doctoral seminar, hosted by Mercator Research Centre.

16 - 18 October 2017, Tblisi (Georgia) 7th International Scientific Conference: Language Policy in the Caucasus, Deadline: 17 June 2017.

19 - 21 October 2017, Alcanena (Portugal) Communities in Control, Learning tools and strategies for multilingual endangered language communities, organized by SOAS, CIDLeS en Mercator Research Centre.

15 - 16 November 2017, Warsaw (Poland) Engaged humanities in Europe: Capacity building for participatory research in linguistic-cultural heritage.

8 - 10 December, Graz (Austria) Language Education across Borders, conference.

23 - 26 April 2018, Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) Frisian Humanities Conference, organized by the Fryske Akademy.