Seminar about Minority Languages

By November 15, 2017News

Map of European languages (Source: SB Language Maps)

Invitation to public seminar about “Minority Languages” at Macquarie University

What: Minority languages: what are we talking about? And why are we talking about it now?
When: Wednesday, November 22, 12:00-2:00pm
Where: Macquarie University Y3A 211 Tute Rm (10HA)
Who: Professor Josu Amezaga, University of the Basque Country

Abstract: Minority (or minoritized) languages can be defined as languages historically excluded from the nation-state. Following the French Revolution, which imposed the need of a common and unique language on the French state, many countries applied the “one-language-one-nation” pattern and, in the process, minoritized numerous languages. In the 19th and 20th centuries, many countries almost seemed to have reached this monolingual ideal. However, in recent decades major changes in mediated communications together with growing migration flows have called this state of affairs into question as minority languages – both “old” and “new” – reassert themselves. At the same time, the reemergence of linguistic diversity has provoked state reactions in the form of new re-nationalization policies focused around language.

In my presentation I will first explain what minoritization of languages means. Then I will show how changes in communication and migration flows have affected the linguistic landscape of Western societies. The focus will be on commonalities and points of difference between regional and immigrant minority languages. Finally, I will discuss why minority languages should be addressed not only as a matter of cultural heritage but also a need for the future. This will lead me to close with some questions about the monolingual paradigm.

Bio blurb: Josu Amezaga is Professor in the Department of Audio-Visual Communication and Advertising at the University of the Basque Country, Spain. After completing his Ph.D. in Sociology about Basque culture, he started researching Basque language and media, from where he moved to a more comprehensive view of minority languages in media and as identity tools. This interest has led him to immigrant languages, as yet another type of minority languages. Currently, he is a visiting professor at Charles Sturt University.

Author Lg_on_the_move

More posts by Lg_on_the_move

    I’m one of the Macquarie sociolinguistics students and I wish I could be at Macquarie for this lecture (but I’ll be in China.) Interestingly, although minority languages may be defined as those excluded from the nation state (above), in (PRC) China dozens minority language are officially included in how the state is constituted and closely tied to the defined place their speakers have as diverse ethnic minorities formally constituting the nation. Other language varieties in China are excluded from the state system and thus perhaps fit more clearly into the class of minoritized languages this blog is referring to. Nevertheless, for the officially included “minority languages”, the reduced minoritization of being formally included does not necessarily mean all the other forms of minoritization are mitigated in policy or in practice, especially in marketized China, as my thesis examines (available on this website under PhD Theses).

  • Josu Amezaga

    Excellent briefing of my presentation. It addresses the very core points I wanted to remark. And very interesting issue at the end of your post: the challenge to the languages posed not by immigration but for emigration. Certainly as you said my point of view is from Europe (host to immigrants), and you enrich it by observing the reality from the Philippines. Thank you for that.