New Speakers of Minority Languages: A Dialogue

Heriot-Watt University and Edinburgh University are pleased to announce this one and a half day event to bring together scholars working on new speakers of minority languages in different parts of the world where traditional communities of speakers are being eroded.

In these contexts, new speakers often emerge as a result of revitalization efforts and more favourable language policies, prompting some individuals to become speakers of the minority language and to invest in its provision for the next generation.

‘New speakers’ are defined here as individuals who use the language of a particular minority linguistic community in everyday life but are not native speakers.

This profile of speaker has always existed in the context of immigration and colonization. It continues to exist in a contemporary context of the globalized new economy, where world languages, most notably English, are acquired by non-native speakers.

New speakers of indigenous minority languages are also emerging in situations where traditional linguistic practices are changing and new ones appearing. In many parts of the world, traditional communities of minority language speakers are being eroded as a consequence of increased urbanization and economic modernization.

At the same time, new speakers are emerging as a result of revitalization efforts and more favourable language policies, prompting some individuals to become speakers of the minority language and to invest in its provision for the next generation.

The linguistic varieties being used by new speakers can often be significantly removed from the norm associated with traditional native speakers.

Different factors may be at play here: new standardized forms may be used in educational and other formal contexts, new terminology may be developed to make the language functional in new domains, and new speakers, language may show the influence of their first language (typically the dominant state language) in terms of syntax and pronunciation.

New speakers often tend to be concentrated in urban areas that may be very different in social and socio-economic terms from the traditional rural communities.

Because of underlying linguistic, sociolinguistic, socioeconomic, socio-geographical and very often ideological differences between native and new speakers, these groups can sometimes perceive themselves as being socially and linguistically incompatible.

This may lead to tensions between different minority language speakers which can sometimes have a negative effect on the process of linguistic revitalization.

Venue: Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh

Friday 30 – Saturday 31 March 2012

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

  • Professor Alexandra Jaffe
  • Professor Alan Davies

Registration fee: £50 (Concessions: £35)

We welcome abstracts of not more than 300 words in length, by no later than 31 January 2012.
Abstracts should include the presenter’s name and institutional affiliation, if any, a very brief biography (not more than a further 100 words), and a contact email address. It is expected that information on acceptance of proposals will be communicated by 15 February.
Please email your abstracts to Bernadette O.Rourke.

Abstracts will be reviewed anonymously by our Scientific Committee and will be evaluated in terms of their relevance to the theme of the Symposium.
Dr Bernadette O.Rourke (Heriot-Watt University), Dr Wilson McLeod (University of Edinburgh)
Scientific Committee:
Dr Ane Ortega Etcheverry (Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao) Professor Graham Turner, (Heriot-Watt University) Dr Joan Pujolar (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya) Professor Alan Davies (University of Edinburgh) Dr Tadhg O hIfearnain (University of Limerick) Dr Fernando Ramallo (Universidade de Vigo) Professor Estibaliz-Amorrortu Gomez (Universidad de Deusto, Bilbao) Dr John Walsh (National University of Ireland, Galway) Dr Michael Hornsby (John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland) Dr Alasdair MacCaluim (Gaelic Officer, Scottish Parliament) Professor Rob Dunbar (Sabhal Mor Ostaig, University of Highlands and Islands)

Registration details will follow shortly.

Bernie O’Rourke

Email – B.M.A.O’

Academia – Bernadette O’Rourke

Twitter – @BernORourke

2 thoughts on “New Speakers of Minority Languages: A Dialogue

  1. Pingback: New Speakers of Minority Languages: Conference Reminder | lifeinlincs

  2. Pingback: New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe | lifeinlincs

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