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Number 141 - May/June 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.

Comments and suggestions: Inge Heslinga (Mercator/ Fryske Akademy).


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New publication on minority languages in Scandinavia

Stockholm University

Researcher Jarmo Laino from the Institutionen för slaviska och baltiska språk, finska, nederländska och tyska at the University of Stockholm wrote an article on the five national minorities of Sweden and their languages. It is published in a Magma-book about the the national minorities of Sweden, Russian in the Baltic states, the minorities of Poland and recent challenges for Sami.

Magma is a Finnish think tank that supports liberal values and focuses on issues such as integration, minorities and media. Its activities are based on the fact that Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, and on the understanding that multilingualism and ethnic diversity are important features of today’s Finland and of Europe.

The book is called: 'Perspectives on minorities in the Baltic Sea area', Nils Erik Forsgård & Lia Markelin (eds); Helsinki 2018. More information via Magma.

The impact of degree of bilingualism on L3 development

Mirjam Guenther-Van der Meij

A higher degree of bilingualism in Frisian and Dutch is not the best predictor of successful L3 English development. Other factors, for example, gender, language contact, attitudes and motivation towards language learning and self-assessment of language proficiency, play a more important role.

Mercator's researcher Mirjam Günther-van der Meij writes this in her dissertation 'The impact of degree of bilingualism on L3 development'. On May 14th, she obtained the degree of PhD of the University of Groningen.
Her dissertation (summary included) can be read here.

A local tv station made a video of the event:

ECML 2020-2023: Online Survey invitation

Minority Safepack

The European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) of the Council of Europe invites all language professionals to participate in an online survey on the priorities on language education for the coming years.

You will be asked to list the top three priorities in language education in your own professional context, beginning with the most important. Your suggestions, ideas and concerns will feed into the process of developing the next ECML programme 2020-2023.

The survey will be open until 11 June 2018.

Student smart phone challenge in young jargon

  CUSC workshop Young Jargon

The Centre Universitari de Sociolingüística i Comunicació (CUSC, University of Barcelona) participated in the IV Festa de la Ciència de la UB, where students from Primary and Secondary School could find different kinds of workshops related to several fields of science.
They worked together with Com ho diria, a platform which does research into young jargon.

CUSC and Com ho diria offered the students to play in a Kahoot, an online quiz where students can compete simultaneously through their smart phones to guess the meaning of words and expressions commonly used by teenagers.
Among four options, they had to choose which word was equivalent in meaning to the one of young jargon.

More information:

Greenland to replace Danish for English as first foreign language


The new Greenlandic government agreed to replace Danish by English as the first foreign language in schools. This can be read in the 'Koalitionsaftale 2018 (2018-2022)'. Although Greenlandic became Greenland’s sole official language in 2009, Danish remained essential in the educational sector.

The Danish government is now worried and recalls that knowledge of the Danish language can help students benefit from educational opportunities in Denmark.


Research grant awarded to Montserrat Sendra

  Montserrat Sendra - CUSC

Montserrat Sendra, a researcher at the Centre Universitari de Sociolingüística i Comunicació (CUSC), has been granted by Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC) in the 41st Borsa d’Estudi Ramon d’Alòs-Moner to do research into “The debate about the official languages in an independent Catalonia: authors, arguments and impacts”.

The purpose of her research proposal is to carry out a full and in-depth bibliographical analysis of the debate that has taken place over the last five years about what the linguistic legislation of an independent Catalan Republic should be.

More information:
Photo credits:

Boosting Breton language with a relay race

  Ar Redadeg, Breton language relay race

A relay race covering 1,800 km throughout Brittany (France), to raise money and awareness for the Breton language: the Ar Redadeg, as the race is called, was held for the sixth time and raised approximately 100,000 euros. The money goes to the Diwan schools, a Breton radio station and a leisure centre.

David Forniès from Nationalia spoke to race director and coordinator Kateliñ Al Laññ about their inspiration and their future plans: "Stabilizing, developing, professionalizing, and continuing to unite Bretons around the issue of the use and development of our language. Then stopping, because we will have done so well that the fight will no longer be necessary."


Symposium: Technologies for Minority Languages

  Language Technology

Increasingly, minority languages, like Frisian, are studied and supported with the help of digital technologies. This symposium is dedicated to activities through which researchers, companies and citizens can strengthen Frisian.

Speakers are dr. Matt Coler (Campus Fryslân), Nanna Haug Hilton (University of Groningen), Claudia Soria (Institute for Computational Linguistics in Pisa, Italy), Lysbeth Jongbloed-Faber (Fryske Akademy), Jelske Dijkstra (Fryske-Akademy), Wilbert Heeringa (Fryske Akademy), and Anne Draaisma (Grendel Games). The symposium has Technologies for Minority Languages as its theme and will take place on Wednesday 27 June 2018 at Tresoar in Leeuwarden (NL).

This symposium is part of the COLING workshop which will be held in Leeuwarden, hosted by University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân and Fryske Akademy. The COLING project is made possible thanks to support from the Marie Sklodowska-Curie RISE "COLING" grant.

COMBI Multiplier Event on June 12 in Palermo

  Combi Partners

June 12, COMBI will hold its second Multiplier event. During the event COMBI will present its research and learning materials produced so far.

In addition, Dr. Christina Wagoner (Cardiff University) will present her PhD research on minority languages and health care in Wales. Fabio Lo Verde, professor of Sociology at University of Palermo, will present on the Sicilian experience on minority languages and the inclusion of migrants.

The day will also include round table discussions on the inclusion of migrants, and the use of a region's minority language in health care. For the agenda, see here.

Interesting Links

* The Dutch City with the constantly changing name
BBC News; 24 April 2018..

* Verkeerde zinsmelodie in taal is geen punt (Wrong sentence melody in language is not an issue - about intonation and rhyme in Dutch and Spanish)
Univers; 07 May 2018.

* 'Use of nouns delays speech' (and the importance of minority language research)
Universiteit Leiden; 15 May 2018.

* Ukraine, Bulgaria sign declaration on implementation of language article; 26 April 2018

* The sign language lawyer who became a social media star
By: Paul Harrison and Kerry Allen
BBC World; 30 May 2018

* Languages: The Kosovo Problem Nobody Talks About
By: Milan Radonjic
Balkan Insight; 26 April 2018.

* New survey reveals diglossia in Maltese society
Nationalia; 15 May 2018

* Council of Europe calls for Irish language act
By: Robbie Meredith
BBC; 15 May 2018

* À Punt iniciarà les emissions de la televisió el 10 de juny (À Punt will start broadcasting on June 10)
Diari La Veu; 17 May 2018

* Tibet activist jailed in China over language campaign
BBC World; 22 May 2018.

* Cornish group wins 'Eurovision for regional languages'
By: Emma Beswick
Euronews; 24 May 2018.

* #AfrikaansIsGroot: Whose language is it anyway?
By: Danny Titus
IOL; 30 May 2018.

* Ethnic minority language included in university curricula
Vietnamnet; 26 May 2018.


7 - 8 June 2018, Vilnius (Lithuania)
The FIPLV Nordic-Baltic Region (NBR) Conference 2018: Teaching and Learning Languages in the 21st Century.
Organized by Vilnius University and Language Teachers' Association of Lithuania (LKPA).

9 - 10 June 2018, Warsaw (Poland)
Understanding Multilingualism.
Organized by the Institute of Specialised and Intercultural Communication (University of Warsaw) and Polish Association of Applied Linguistics (PTLS).

18 - 20 June 2018, Stockholm (Sweden)
Exploring Language Eduation: Global and Local Perspectives.
Organized by the Department of Language Education at Stockholm University.

20 - 24 June 2018, Leeuwarden (The Netherlands)
Federal Union of European Nationalities (FUEN) Congress 2018.
Organized by FUEN and the Council of the Frisian Movement.

27 June 2018, Leeuwarden (The Netherlands)
Symposium: Technologies for Minority Languages
Organized by University of Groningen/Campus Fryslân and Fryske Akademy.

4 - 6 July 2018, Soria (Spain)
4th International Colloquium on Languages, Cultures, Identity, in School in Society.
Organized by Loyola Marymount University School of Education.

12 July 2018, Palermo (Italy)
COMBI Multiplier Event.
Organized by Danilo Dolci.

16 - 19 July 2018, Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain)
HIGA! - 2nd Summit of Young Speakers of Minoritized Languages, official summer course.
Organized by the University of the Basque Country.

23 - 25 August 2018, Reykjavík (Iceland)
Conference of the Foundation for Endangered Languages: Endangered Languages and the Land - Mapping Landscapes of Multilingualism.
Organized by Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding (University of Reykjavík) and the Foundation for Endangered Languages.

30 August - 1 September 2018, Malta
Multilingual Education in Linguistically Diverse Contexts 2018.
Organized by the University of Malta.

12 - 13 September 2018, Birmingham (United Kingdom)
French in Multilingual Urban Centres.
Organized by the Aston University.

13 - 15 September 2018, Lissabon (Spain)
XIth International Conference on Multilingualism and Third Language Acquisition.
Organized by the University of Lisbon.

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.

14 - 16 November 2018, Berlin (Germany)
Big Cities, Small Languages.
Deadline for submissions: 15 July 2018.
Organized by The SOAS World Languages Institute (UK), Mercator Research Centre, the Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation and the Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft.

22 - 24 November 2018, Talinn (Estonia)
Multilingual Awareness and Multilingual Practices (MAMP18).
Organized by Tallinn University, School of Humanities.

25 - 27 March 2019, Valetta (Malta)
2nd International Conference on Bilingualism
Organized by University of Malta.

22 - 25 May 2019, Leeuwarden (The Netherlands)
17th International Conference on Minority Languages
Call for papers - submission for proposals: 1 October, 2018
Organized by Mercator Research Centre.