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Number 138 - January 2018


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

Leeuwarden-Fryslân, European Capital of Culture 2018 launched January 27


Saturday January 27, was the official opening of Leeuwarden-Fryslân, European Capital of Culture 2018. The coming year the province of Fryslân and its captial Leeuwarden will be buzing with performances, events, tours, and activities. Of course, the Fryske Aademy, including Mercator European Research Centre does its share: beautiful language initiatives in the courtyard of the Fryske Akademy, a cycling route around a disappeared inland sea, a literary walking route through Leeuwarden, an academic meet-up on Frisian language and history, on minority languages and multilingualism, and of course the 1st Conference on Frisian Humanities.

Have a look at the highlights of the Fryske Akademy during Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018 #LF2018!
Visit the website of the 1st Conference on Frisian Humanities | Multilingualism
View photo's of the opening ceremony of Leeuwarden-Fryslân, European Capital of Culture 2018

Mercator European Research Centre publishes its 50th Regional Dossier: The Romansh language in education in Switzerland

  Mercator Research Centre celebrates the publication of its 50th Regional Dossier

Mercator European Research Centre has published its 50th Regional Dossier: The Romansh language in education in Switzerland, written by Manfred Gross, head of the Centre of Multilingualism at the University of Teacher Education of Grisons in Switzerland, and expert on the Romansh language. To celebrate this joyful event, a new means to select a dossier on the Mercator website was added: via an interactive map.

Since the nineties of the previous century, publishing the Regional Dossiers has been one of Mercator’s key activities: each dossier is written by a local expert, and details the education of a minority language in a specific region in Europe or beyond. The dossiers increase awareness of Europe's lingustic diversity, and due to their fixed structure, are valuable sources for comparative research. In 2017 alone, the dossiers have been downloaded almost 18.172 times.

Download The Romansh language in education in Switzerland
Read the article in the Leeuwarder Courant on the publication of the 50th Regional Dossier (in Dutch)

Portugal evaluates potential signing of the Charter for Regional or Minority Languages

  Miranda do Douro

At meetings between experts and stakeholders from the national and local administration, academia and civil society in Miranda do Douro, Portugal, on 14-15 December, the Secretary of State for Education, João Costa, stated that the government is working with self-governments, schools and the Council of Europe to evaluate the conditions necessary for the possible signing of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The Secretary of State, Mr Costa, said the government is committed to guaranteeing "a more democratic and inclusive society" namely with regard to the preservation of "linguistic rights" in Portugal. The government is assessing the implications of a future signature, informing itself on the reality of other countries’ experiences and positions before any interministerial decision and discussion in the Republic’s Assembly.

From: the Council of Europe website

Portugal is one of the 14 members of the Council of Europe, who has not signed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. If the country does sign, Portugal still needs to ratify it, that is approve the signing internally.

For a list of Council of Europe members that have signed and / or ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, see here. For more information about the difference between signing and ratifying a treaty see here.

Avel·lí Flors-Mas From CUSC-UB: "The survival of the language can not be trusted to school alone"


Avel·lí Flors-Mas is researcher at Mercator Network partner CUSC-UB. 12 December he was interviewed by the newspaper EL Temps regarding his PhD Thesis, in which he analyzed the linguistic discourses of three groups of teenagers from Manlleu, Mataró and Castelló. His thesis is part of the project "Resolves: ressocialization and languages: the linguistic effects of the transition from primary to secondary education in multilingual contexts." led by Professor Xavier Vila.

Flors-Mas concludes that the status of Catalan varies per geographic area: in Catalonia, it is the dominant language, spoken among people that are unfamiliar with each other. However, in the Valencian Country Catalan adolescents mainly use the language among family and friends. People who have followed the Valencian teaching program, but in the past, have socialized mainly in Spanish, have great difficulties to start using Catalan in the community, and to be recognized as a legitimate Catalan speaker.

Flors-Mas' study keeps track of the same students for several years, thus offering insight in what happens to their language use during their switch from primary to secondary school. Flors-Mas concludes that language use on the new school mainly depends on this school's linguistic landscape: if a majority of the students speak Catalan, a student that spoke Spanish in primary school will adapt. In other words: it is not the switch to secondary education itself that switches language change, but the new linguistic landscape.

Everyone goes to school, and as such school is still a vital means to ensuring that the whole population is competent in the two official languages: Spanish and Catalan. However, the survival of a language can not be trusted to the school alone. To preserve it, "future rewards" are crucial, such as making Catalan language skills pay off in the labor market, and creating "urban spaces" where Catalan is the language of choice.

For his research, Avel·lí Flors-Mas was awarded the Jaume Camp Prize on Sociolinguistics.

Source: Website El Temps
More information on Flores' reception of the Jaume Camp Prize

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


By: Joana Duarte & Mirjam Günther

In September 2017 the Mercator project Holi-Frysk - Frisian in secondary education: a holistic approach started. In this project Mercator Research Centre works together with three secondary schools (trilingual Frisian-Dutch-English school, ‘newcomer’ school and mainly Dutch speaking school) in Fryslân to develop activities to increase multilingualism in the classroom. Besides Frisian it also involves several foreign and migrant languages.

The project is now halfway through and it is time to evaluate what has been done so far. Together with teachers from the three participating schools, various multilingual materials have been developed. For the newcomer school, the ISK department of Piter Jelles in Sint Annaparochie, students from the master Multilingualism (RuG) designed a cooking lesson in which the master students and the ISK-students made ‘appelflappen’ together. The students from ISK and RuG also taught each other how to count and name body parts in Arabic, Portugese, Catalan, Tigrinya, Frisian and many other languages. It was great to see how much everyone enjoyed the lessons ánd learned from each other both language and culture wise. Pupils from the mainly Dutch speaking school, the Ljouwerter Lyseum of Piter Jelles in Leeuwarden learned more about the history of the close relationship between Frisian and English. Another class conducted their own Linguistic Landscape study. All pupils were very enthousiastic about the work forms used in the activities.

These are just a few examples of the project's activities and there are more to come! Keep an eye on the Mercator website where the Holi-Frysk website (including activities!) will soon be launched!

Albanian declared official language in the whole of Macedonia.


On January 11th, the Macedonian Parliament has approved a law, with 69 votes out of 120 in favour, that recognizes Albanian as the second official language throughout the country, along with Macedonian. So far, Albanian was official only in municipalities where the percentage of Albanian speakers exceeded 20%. Now the only requirement for the law to enter into force is a signature from the president, which will make Macedonia the third state where Albanian is an official language throughout the country, next to Albania and Kosovo.

The new law will allow Albanian speakers to use their language with public administration throughout Macedonia, and it extends the use of the language to all official documentation and state institutions. The law is part of a government agreement between PM Zoran Zaev’s Macedonian Social Democratic Party and the Albanian majority parties. Conservative Macedonian nationalist party VMRO, in opposition, has boycotted the Parliament vote, arguing that official status for Albanian is unconstitutional and that it will help increase tensions between Albanians and Macedonians.

According to the 2002 Macedonian census —the most recent— 64% of the country’s inhabitants identify themselves as Macedonians, 25% as Albanians, 4% as Turks and 3% as Roma.


Deputee of state critical of Frisian language use in Capital of Culture 2018


The Frisian language should be far more visible in European Capital of Culture 2018, said Deputee of State Sietsje Poepjes, in response to research on language use in European Capital of Culture 2018 on Twitter by Lysbeth Jongbloed of the Fryske Akademy. According to Jongbloed's research, only one percent of the Capital of Culture tweets are in Frisian, nor is Frisian used much in Capital of Culture campaigns.

Capital of Culture spokesman Radboud Droog admits that the percentage of Frisian tweets is only one percent, but argues that the website,, is available in Frisian, and new messages are translated into Frisian immediately. Also, says Droog, several projects, in which the Frisian language has an important role, are in the making. For instance, the project Lân fan taal located at the Aldehou and the Prinsetún, focuses, amongst other things, on the Frisian language and multilingualism.

Source: Omrop Fryslân
More about Lysbeth Jongbloed's work on Frisian in social media

ECRML 25th anniversary: ELEN calls for closer cooperation on Charter implementation


The European Language Equality Network has called for closer cooperation between the NGOs and governments to help the Charter implementation process. ELEN Secretary-General Davyth Hicks was in Strasbourg on November 21st for the 58th Plenary meeting of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), to discuss a whole range of issues affecting the Charter, in particular Charter implementation and delayed State reporting.

Dr Hicks underlined the urgent need for more Charter ratifications and outlined the work that ELEN was doing towards a French, Italian and Greek ratification. He discussed the issue of State party Charter ‘fatigue’ regarding the three-yearly cycle of reporting and where only two signatory states are up to date. He described the negative and demoralising impact that late reporting has on the language community where violations are reported but where no progress is made as the State is often a few year’s late in reporting. In many cases it marks a real lack of progress especially when, under the Charter, provision for languages is meant to improve over time. Several ELEN member languages are defined as endangered, he added, and they need to have problems solved urgently.

Some specific problems were discussed including the Spanish Government’s practice of systematically removing criticism of it by the Catalan Government in its reporting to the ECRML Secretariat, with the result that the Catalan Government now sends its own report directly to the ECRML. In addition, Dr Hicks talked about various concerns regarding the UK’s ratification including the cut in Government funding for Welsh language TV, the lack of a promised Irish language act impacting on Irish regeneration, and the complete lack of any support for Cornish.

Source: ELEN website

Update on the MOOC Frisian project


By: Marlous Visser & Ramziè Krol-Hage

The launch of the MOOC Frisian – April 14th this year – is drawing near. It won’t be long before everyone can join in learning the Frisian language and learn about the Frisian culture. Last weeks have been all about recording videos. The project team had great fun filming the dialogues that will be used in the MOOC. The interviews were also started. These interviews are added to the MOOC because, besides teaching the participants the basics of the language, the MOOC will also give some examples on how the language is used in everyday live. The first interview was at a trilingual primary school in Marsum, a small village near Leeuwarden/Ljouwert, where they not only teach the children Dutch, but also Frisian and English. The interviews to come will concern theatre (for which a Frisian actor will be interviewed about the role of Frisian in theatre), the Frisian language at home, and language policy. For this last subject the team will meet with the commissioner of the king who will tell more about language policy in Friesland.

1st Conference on Frisian Humanities | Multilingualism

  first Conference on Frisian Humanities

On 23 to 26 April 2018, the Fryske Akademy organizes the first Conference on Frisian Humanities, as part of the project Lân fan taal (Land of language) of Leeuwarden-Fryslân European Capital of Culture 2018.

Though the call for papers deadline has expired, it is still possible to attend the conference

On 25 and 26 April, the focus of the conference will be on multilingualism. The purpose is to bring together practitioners, policy-makers and researchers of multilingualism. This part is organised jointly by Mercator European Research Centre and AFUK (Frisian language promotion).

  logo lan fan taal.png

Invited speakers:
Jim Cummins (University of Toronto), John Edwards (St Francis Xavier University), Jasone Cenoz (University of the Basque Country), Yaron Matras (University of Manchester), Durk Gorter (University of the Basque Country), Itesh Sachdev (SOAS University of London), Daniel Cunliffe (University of South Wales)

A draft programme of the conference will be available soon. The main working language of the symposium will be English. Some sessions might also take place in Frisian and Dutch.

You can register for the conference here.
Visit the website of the first Conference on Frisian Humanities.

Interesting Links

New high school offering Breton confirmed to open in Vannes, Article in Le Télégramme.

January 8, Master student Guilem Belmar presented his research on Minority Languages in Social Media.

Start of the official year of the Irish language Bliain na Gaeilge 2018.

City of Iruñea increases the aid for the promotion of the Basque language by 27%, article on Naiz: iruindarra.

Corsican nationalists win absolute majority, call on French government to negotiate autonomy, Election outcome opens the door for Corsican as an offician language next to French.

Alaska native languages at risk of extinction by 2100, artical on XinhuaNet.


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

27 - 28 February 2018, Dublin (Ireland) First Colloquium on Language Contact in Education: Theory and Pedagogy , held at Faculte des Sciences de l'Education - Rabat, Morocco.

14 - 16 March 2018, Oviedo (Spain) 1st 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).

21 - 22 May 2018, Manchester (UK) Multilingual Landscapes: Planning, Policy, and Contact Linguistic Perspectives, organized by the The laboratory of Values, Society and Development (LVSD).

7 - 8 June 2018, Stockholm (Sweden) The FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region (NBR) Conference 2018 "Teaching and Learning Languages in the 21st Century: Linguistic, Educational and Cultural Aspects", Call for Papers deadling: April 5, 2018.

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

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

4 - 6 July 2018, Soria (Spain) 4th International Colloquium on Languages, Cultures, Identity, in School in Society, now open for abstract submission. .

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

27-28 September 2018, Sestri Levante, Genoa (Italy) 3rd International Conference on the Sociolinguistics of Immigration (Slimig2018), organized by the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Modern Cultures of the University of Turin (Italy). Call for proposals deadline: February 19, 2018.