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Number 135 - September 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

Catalonian referendum violence plunges EU into crisis as '90pc of voters back independence'


On a day marred by clashes between police and voters, 2.26 million people took part in the referendum, regional government spokesman Jordi Turull said. That represents a turnout of 42.3 percent of Catalonia's 5.34 million voters. Of those who took part, 2.02 million Catalans voted "yes" to the question: "Do you want Catalonia to become an independent state in the form of a republic?"

The preliminary results pave the way for the region's leader to declare independence in the coming days, despite the Spanish government ruling the referendum illegal. The brutal scenes of police cracking down on the referendum plunged the EU into a new crisis after hundreds of people were injured in the violent stand-offs with Spanish police.

There was widespread condemnation of the Spanish government's attempt to crack down on the vote. However, the European Union remained conspicuously silent on the police tactics, which saw masked officers smash their way into polling stations and forcibly remove ballot boxes. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy last night said: "We did what we had to do", describing the ballot as a “premeditated attack on the legality of the Spanish state faced down with serenity by the forces of order”.

From: the Telegraph

Read more at:
The Guardian
Mercator Network's tweets on the referendum

26 September: Kick-off Minority SafePack campaign

  minority safepack campaign kickoff

By Helga Zandberg

The kick-off of the Minority SafePack campaign was held today at Tresoar, in Ljouwert, Frisia. Simultaneously, the SafePack initiative was signed in Brussels by the deputees of the Frisian government and Frisian members of the European Parliament. A live connection with Brussels ensured that the signing event could be followed at Tresoar.

The event in Ljouwert was organized by the Europeesk Buro foar Lytse Talen, together with FUEN, the Ried fan de Fryske Beweging and Mercator Research Center. Siart Smit of Lân fan Taal kicked off the series of pitches emphasizing the joy of multilingualism, but cautioning against the word ‘autochtonous’ used in the minority safepack initiative to indicate the group of minority languages it intends to protect. Pier Bergsma of the Ried fan de Fryske Beweging and Cor van der Meer of Mercator held their pitches in Frisian, while Henk Bloemhoff of EBLT spoke in Stellingwerfs. Nina Peckelsen of youth organization YEN spoke about her experience at the start of the MSPI campaign in Romania. Froukje de Jong, president of the EBLT, spoke in Bildts. A group from Tryater, under the guidance of Ira Judkovskaja, let Russian and Leeuwarders be heard. Hein Jaap Hilarides took care of the music and sang in Bildts. Thus, it was a truly multilingual event.

During the event, the guests were able to sign the initative. In the EU there are about 50 million people belonging to a minority. To support them, the Minority SafePack initiative was initiated. It needs as many signatures as possible to be valid: at least one million.

Sign the initiative here.

Holi-Frysk - Frisian in secondary education: a holistic approach


By: Joana Duarte & Mirjam Günther

The new Mercator project Holi-Frysk - Frisian in secondary education: a holistic approach lauched on September 1st. In this project Mercator Research Centre has teamed up with three secondary schools (a trilingual Frisian-Dutch-English school, a ‘newcomer’ school and a mainly Dutch speaking school) in Fryslân to develop activities to increase multilingualism in the classroom. In addition to Frisian this multilingualism will also include various foreign and migrant languages. The goal of the project is to develop materials, together with teachers, to handle the variety of languages in practice. Another aim of the project is to allow all pupils to use their own mother tongue in school.

The project addresses this issue in the context of secondary education in the bilingual region of Fryslân. It will serve as a pilot study:
1. for the development of multilingual teaching methods for different types of secondary schools,
2. to conduct research into the implementation of new teaching methods and the effects it has on the language attitudes and the effectiveness of teachers.

Different materials aimed at different types of schools will be developed and implemented in a one-year-pilot on the three secondary schools and its effects will be studied. Afterwards, the materials will become available for other secondary schools in Fryslân through an online toolbox.

Follow us on our project website to keep informed!

Ukraine’s new education law makes Ukrainian the language of instruction in all schools

  ukrainian minister foreign affairs.jpg

On 5 September 2017, Ukraine’s Parliament passed a new education law. Expected to come into force in 2020, it will raise teachers’ minimal salaries, and extend the basic education study period from 11 to 12 years. It also states that the entire education process in all educational institutions will be in Ukrainian.

Previously, students in Ukraine were able to study in the language of an ethnic minority living in Ukraine, meaning that all lessons were conducted in the minority language. Right now, 10% of students – some 400,000 children – receive education in Russian, Polish, Hungarian, Romanian, Moldovan or Slovak.

The law has been hailed as revolutionary by Ukrainian politicians, but the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Hungary and Romania have strongly critisized it. The foreign ministers of Hungary, Greece, Romania, and Bulgaria have complained to the Council of Europe and OSCE about the violation of the rights of their minorities in Ukraine.

Read more at: the Kyiv Post
The Washington Post
The Euromaidan Press

Mercator Research Centre to work on three new projects

  research at Mercator

Three projects, in which Mercator Research Centre is a partner, have begun or will begin next month.

The international project Critical Skills for Life and Work aims to design and implement effective training tools for enhancing key skills of highly skilled refugees and the language teachers who work with them. The other partners in this project are from the United Kingdom and Austria.

The goals of the Raak-Pro project are to develop, experiment with, and evaluate new didactic approaches and tools for multilingual education. Mercator will team up with institutions and schools in Frisia.

The international LangUp project aims to assist young people in capitalizing on their minority language skills in their search for work. To reach this group, the partners will develop courses for youth workers. Mercator will work together with initiatives in the South of Europe and South America.

This newsletter will keep you informed of the projects' developments.

Macedonia’s Albanian Language Law Moves Towards Adoption

  macedonian government

A law to extend the official use of the Albanian language across the country should soon reach the Macedonian parliament after governing coalition partners reached a compromise over its content.

The text of the new language law - seen as the last legal remaining provision stemming from a 2001 peace deal that ended an armed conflict between Albanian insurgents and Macedonian security forces - is expected to be put before parliament for adoption soon.

The law would extend the official use of Albanian to the entire country, where ethnic Albanians make up around a quarter of the total population of 2.1 million. It will mainly ease communication in Albanian with institutions like municipalities, hospitals and courts.

From the Balkan Insight.

International Social Media highlights minority languages: #EDL2017 and #Frysk trending topics


On September 26th, European Day of Languages, Afûk's campaign Praat mar Frysk organized International Social Media Day for small languages and Fryske Twitterday. The event was a big succes. Both hashtags #Frysk en #EDL2017 (European Day of Languages 2017) quickly became trending topics on Twitter throughout Europe, and small languages were used and exchanged all day.

This year more than 16 organisations from European regions participated in International Social Media Day, among others: Basque Country, Ireland, Malta, Catalonia, Friuli, and Wales.

More information about International Social Media Day and Fryske Twitterdei is available here.

Safe the date: 12 -14 October: LANGSCAPE conference Ljouwert, Frisia

  langscape conference

October 12 to 14 the LANGSCAPE conference Multilingualism: minority & majority perspectives will take place in in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

All presentation slots are filled, but there is still some room for those wishing to attend. Registering for the conference is possible .

The LANGSCAPE conference Multilingualism: minority & majority perspectives will focus on identities, perceptions, and behaviour in the field of multilingualism. More information is available on the LANGSCAPE conference website

Visit the conference website here.

Interesting Links

Grammars are robustly transmitted even during the emergence of creole languages. Article in Nature.

Highland Council’s third Gaelic masterplan approved, article in the Press and Journal by Iain Ramage.

How Britain’s monolingualism will hold back its economy after Brexit , article in The Conversation by Gabrielle Hogan-Brun.

Pro-Asturian language movement unveils a campaign aimed at bringing the debate on the language’s official status to the Asturian Parliament , article at

French baby boy banned from having name containing tilde. Article in the Guardian.


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

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

18 - 20 October 2017, Freiburg (Germany) 3rd Saami Linguistics Symposium.

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

6 - 8 November 2017, Groningen (NL) Conference on Multilingualism - COM2017 (COM2017) , organized by the University of Groningen.

13 - 14 November 2017, Budapest (Hungary) International Conference on the Protection of Regional or Minority Languages in Europe, organized by the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

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

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

1 - 3 February 2018, Dublin (UK) International Conference on Language, Identity and Education in Multilingual Contexts (LIEMC18), held at Marino Institute of Education, Trinity College Dublin.

23 - 26 April 2018, Leeuwarden (The Netherlands) 1st Conference on Frisian Humanities, organized by the Fryske Akademy.

18 - 20 June 2018, Stockholm (Sweden) Exploring Language Eduation: Global and Local Perspectives.

20 - 24 June 2018, Leeuwarden (NL) FUEN congress 2018.

13 - 15 September 2018, Lissabon (Spain) XIth International Conference on Multilingualism and Third Language Acquisition , now open for abstract submission. Deadline: October 30.