- Minority languages
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In the 21st century all European citizens live in a multilingual environment. In their daily lives they come across many different languages. Consequently there is a growing interest in multilingualism and an increasing need for language communities to exchange experiences and to cooperate. The Mercator European Research Centre on Multilingualism and Language Learning, part of the Fryske Akademy, meets this need by collecting, researching and studying, circulating, and applying knowledge in the field of language learning and use at school, at home and through cultural participation. The Mercator Research Centre is an independent and recognised reference centre for policymakers and professional workers in the field of multilingual education and language learning. The Mercator Research Centre brings Europe to Fryslân and Fryslân to Europe.
On Friday 28 and Saturday 29 November, the international conference on Multilingualism and Social Media took place in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. This conference was co-organised by SOAS (University of London) and Mercator Research Centre (Fryske Akademy).
A wide variety of cases, research and issues were presented to the audience, such as: the importance of internet for a language, the growing availability of tools, the role of social media for education and perspectives for endangered languages. Fruitful discussions and a joint wish for future European co-operation completed the conference and made it a success.
On Friday afternoon, a special presentation was focused on the Facebook Frisian translation sprint which took place during the conference, a community-driven initiative by volunteers addressing the need of minority language speakers to use social media interfaces in their own (minority) language.
For a photo report of the conference see here.
The Expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-on-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s.
Juan Pablo Martínez Cortés is Associate Professor in the Engineering School of the University of Zaragoza, in the area of Information and Communication Technologies. He is the author of the revised Regional Dossier Asturian in Spain, a publication of Mercator Research Centre.
"My field of research is in signal processing applied to biological signals, so it has no direct relationship with the field of regional and minority languages. However, having a background in ICTs and being a speaker and advocate of Aragonese language and multilingualism, I saw the opportunities that new technologies could offer to minority and endangered languages as Aragonese."
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The Regional dossiers describe the position of lesser-used languages in education, give information on national and regional education systems, and include the latest statistics regarding lesser-used languages in education in Europe.
The work on Endangered Languages (Phonetics and Ethnolinguistics) at the Fryske Akademy and the Mercator Research Centre is focused on the study of language contrasts, language contact and language change. We investigate the phonetic aspects of languages and dialects of minority and regional languages, in particular those of the Russian Federation and neighbouring countries. This work is supported by grants from the Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Organisation INTAS of the European Union, the British Library, Japanese Foundations and Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Ltd.
The Network of Schools' mission is to create a platform for multilingual schools in minority regions within Europe in order to facilitate the exchange of information and experiences.