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Number 136 - October 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

Langscape conference 12 – 14 October 2017

  Langscape conference Ljouwert

By: Marlous Visser

From 12 – 14 October 2017 Mercator European Research Centre hosted the annual Langscape conference: “Multilingualism: minority & majority perspectives”. The three-day conference took place at Hotel Oranje in Ljouwert, the Netherlands.

The programme started with an excursion to two trilingual (Dutch, Frisian and English) schools: primary school “De Pôlle” in Marssum, and trilingual secondary school “CSG Liudger” in Burgum. Excursion participants attended lessons, interviewed pupils, and, in turn, were interviewed themselves. After lunch, opening words were spoken by Itesh Sachdev (SOAS), Stephan Breidbach & Lutz Küster (Humboldt-Universität), and Cor van der Meer (Mercator). First to present was keynote speaker Piet van Avermaet who discussed ‘Multilingualism in Education. Problem or Asset?”. His talk was followed by many interesting others, including the keynote lecture from Jasone Cenoz about perceived threats and opportunities of translanguaging, and the keynote lecture by Durk Gorter on making use of the linguistic landscape, in the classroom and beyond.

The conference programme, including some of the powerpoints, is available here.
Photo's made during the conference are available on Mercator's Facebook page.

Catalonia declares independence from Spain, Spanish government invokes Article 155


Friday October 27th Catalonia's regional parliament’s voted to declare independence from Spain. Less than an hour later, Spain's national senate voted overwhelmingly to approve article 155, allowing Barcelona’s authority to be removed in an attempt to stop independence in its tracks. The Spanish government has taken control of Catalonia, sacked its president, Carles Puigdemont, and called a snap regional election for December.

Mr Puigdemont has begun to pitch his case explicitly to a European audience, as a call for the upholding of universal principles, including self-determination. According to The Guardian, he will not win over governments, but may find their peoples more receptive. Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European commission, warned that the EU did not need “more cracks”. Germany’s Angela Merkel, and the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, have both publicly backed Spain's Prime Minister Rajoy. A tweet from Donald Tusk, the European council president, reiterated that Spain remained the EU’s “only interlocutor”, but added: “I hope it favours force of argument, not argument of force.”

Read more:
The Guardian view on Spain’s crisis: damage to Catalonia
How the Catalan crisis could send shockwaves across Europe

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expresses concerns over Ukraine's new education law

  Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has expressed concerns over articles in Ukraine’s new education law relating to teaching in minority languages. In addition, several European Union diplomats have stated that Hungary will bring up the law when EU foreign ministers meet on October 16 in Luxembourg.

Meeting in plenary session in Strasbourg on October 12, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted for a resolution criticizing the Ukraine’s new education law, saying it "does not appear to strike an appropriate balance between the official language and the languages of national minorities."

EU diplomats state that Hungary threatened to review the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement that entered into force on September 1. Such a review requires unanimous agreement of all EU members, therefore Hungary has stated it will bring up the issue during the meeting of EU's foreign ministers on October 16 in Luxembourg.

Read more at Radio Free Europe.

Annual Mercator, SOAS, CIDLeS conference took place in Alcanena, Portugal

  SOAS, CIDLeS, FEL, Mercator-conference

From 19 to 21 October 2017 the conference: "Learning tools and strategies for multilingual endangered language communities", organised by CIDLeS, SOAS, FEL and Mercator European Research Centre took place at the Hotel Eurosol Alcanena (Portugal).

The conference addressed the issue that, though many regional minority and endangered languages have been documented, the concerned language communities themselves have often been involved too little in this process. Consequently, communities make too little use of the data produced, especially archived material.

During three days, experts, including the four keynote speakers Gary Holton (University of Hawai’i at Manoa), Riitta-Liisa Valijärvi (University College London and Uppsala University), Lily Kahn (University College London) and Joana Duarte (Mercator European Research Centre), discussed community-driven and bottom-up approaches, documentation methods, and how to connect communities to the language archives. In addition to Joana Duarte, Cor van der Meer also presented on behalf of Mercator.

More information about the conference can be found here.

Asturian Socialist Federation supports official status for Asturian


The 32nd Congress of the Asturian Socialist Federation (FSA-PSOE) has approved, with 52% of votes in favour, an amendment that supports an official status for Asturian and Galician-Asturian languages, alongside Spanish if Asturias' Statute of Autonomy is ever amended. Both the Board for the Defense of the Asturian Language (XDLA, which recently unveiled a project for official status in 2018) and the Academy of the Asturian Language have welcomed the news. In addition, the European Parliament is to host a meeting on issues regarding the Asturian language on the first quarter of 2018.

The Asturian Statute of Autonomy dates from 1981, and up till now has been amended 4 times. If the Socialists indeed back an official status for the language, when the Statute is amended a fith time, the final hurdle will be for the new Statute to pass Spain's National Parliament.

Asturian has had a limited degree of protection in Asturias since 1998, after the approval of the Law of use and promotion of Asturian. Pro-Asturian language civil society groups complained that the linguistic rights granted by this law are very limited in scope. 100,000 to 450,000 people speak Asturian in Asturias, according to several accounts. The language is part of the larger Astur-Leonese linguistic group that extends to the provinces of León and Zamora and the region of Miranda, in Portugal. Galician-Asturian, or Eonaviego, is spoken in the western zone of Asturias, close to the Galician border. The Academy of the Asturian Language regards Galician-Asturian as a separate language; the Royal Galician Academy considers it a Galician variant.

Source: Nationalia on accepted amendment
Nationalia on Asturian proposal

Tatarstan's president Rustam Minnikhanov performes a balancing act between the Kremlin and regional language concerns

  tatar president

September 21, Kazan, Russia - The president of Russia's Republic of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov, in his annual address to parliament performed a balancing act between the Kremlin's drive toward abandoning mandatory Tatar-language classes in schools across the republic and growing concern about the move within Tatarstan.

Minnikhanov said in his address that Tatarstan's Education Ministry "should focus on Russian language studies," adding, however, that methods must be further developed to improve Tatar-language teaching, which along with Russian is Tatarstan's official language.

The sensitive language issue has sparked disputes not only in Tatarstan, but in several other so-called ethnic republics in the Volga-Ural area since Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to the Republic of Mari El in July, when he suggested that ethnic Russians were being forced to learn these languages in regions with sizable minority populations. In his speech in Mari El, Putin said it is "impermissible to force someone to learn a language that is not [his or her] mother tongue, and to cut the number of hours of Russian language [classes at schools] in Russia's ethnic republics." In August, Putin ordered federal prosecutors to check whether ethnic Russian students in the autonomous republics were being forced to learn the local languages.

In a September 7 statement, Tatarstan's Education Ministry said that such calls "contradict federal and regional laws and mislead some parents." The ministry noted that the Russian Constitution gives all the republics within the Russian Federation the right to have their own official languages, and that Tatarstan's own constitution and language legislation make the study of Russian and Tatar mandatory in all schools.

Among Tatarstan's population of almost 4 million, around half are Tatar-speaking, the majority of whom are fluent in Russian as well. The other half is comprised of Russians and other ethnic groups, including Udmurts, Bashkirs, and Chuvashes.

Read more: Tatar President Minnikhanov Balances Between Kremlin And His People In Annual Address
Tatar Lawmakers Urge Renewal Of Kazan-Moscow Power-Sharing Agreement

Fifth report of the Committee of Experts in respect of Denmark: the situation of the German minority in Denmark is rather satisfactory, but media presence and general awareness need to be improved

  langscape conference

The German language is in a rather satisfactory position in Denmark with regards to education and cultural life. However, German is hardly ever used before the courts; there is a lack of radio and television programmes in German, and of public awareness of the German minority in general. These are the main findings in a report published today by the Committee of Ministers.

German is the only language that Denmark has committed to protect and promote when it ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages in 2000.

The German-speaking minority has its own schools and it is possible to receive education at all levels, except technical and vocational education. There is a German language newspaper and a private radio station. In terms of the interstate agreement of 1955, the funding of the institutions of the German minority in Denmark is provided by the Federal Republic of Germany, whereas the funding of the institutions of the Danish minority in Germany is provided by the Kingdom of Denmark.

Source: Council of Europe website.

Read the report here.

Interesting Links

The new website of the 1st Conference on Frisian Humanities, 23-26 April 2018 in Ljouwert. The conference offers a forum for scientific debate concerning language and culture in the Frisian regions, in past and present, and in an international perspective.

Map of languages in the USA, before European colonization.

Website of the Conference on Multilingualism (COM2017), 6 to 8 November 2017 in Groningen (NL). Conference concerning cognitive and educational aspects related to bilingualism and multilingualism.

Gaelic language study sees decline in its heartland of the Outer Hebrides , article in the Herald, by Andrew Denholm.

Representatives of the Greek minority in Albania unhappy with new legislation Article on the blog Balcania by Josep Dorca.

Scholarship opportunity Article on the blog Balcania at SOAS.


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.

16 - 18 November 2017, Szczyrk (Poland) Young Researchers International Symposium on Multilingualism, conference.

2 December 2017, London (UK) Developing Pathways to Impact: A Training Workshop for Early Career Researchers in Bi-/Multilingualism and Education, workshop.

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

18 - 20 January 2018, London (UK) Multilingualism and Multilingual Identities in World Literatures, organised by SOAS London.

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.

14 - 16 March 2018, Oviedo (Spain) I International Conference on Research in Multilingualism: Innovation and New Challenges, Conference.

16 - 18 April 2018, Cambridge (UK) Global Approaches to Multilingualism and Standardisation, conference.

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

3 - 5 May 2018, Amsterdam (The Netherlands) Contested Languages in the Old World, hosted by the University of Amsterdam.

9 - 10 May 2018, Agadir (Morocco) 1st International Conference on Multilingualism and Multilingual Education, organized by the The laboratory of Values, Society and Development (LVSD), call for papers Deadline: January 15, 2018.

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.