Minority Languages Today: A Selection from the Papers Read at the First International Conference on Minority Languages Held at Glasgow University

Minority Languages Today: A Selection from the Papers Read at the First International Conference on Minority Languages Held at Glasgow University

Minority Languages Today: A Selection from the Papers Read at the First International Conference on Minority Languages Held at Glasgow University

Minority Languages Today: A Selection from the Papers Read at the First International Conference on Minority Languages Held at Glasgow University

Excerpt

The organisers of the conference of which this book is an outcome found, like others before us (e.g. Price 1969, Oftedal 1969), that the term 'minority language' presented paradoxes and uncertainties of definition. Quite often a language which is a 'minority language' of a nation as a whole is very much a majority language of the population of a region or enclave of that nation, as, say, Gaelic is in Lewis or Welsh in Gwynedd or Frisian in Friesland or, some might claim, Lowland Scots in mainland Scotland. Then there are other languages which, though they are used regularly by a majority of the population of an entire nation, yet resemble minority languages in that they are not the only languages used by their speakers: for some purposes, often the highest status literary and official functions, they are replaced by some other language, as happens to Swiss German in Switzerland, Faroese in Faroe, Luxemburgish in Luxemburg. Again, the majority languages of one nation also often serve as minority languages in some other nation: the cases of Swedish, Danish and German in this situation are described in this book.

Some fuller definition of the proposed conference's intended theme was then evidently necessary. This was supplied in the circulars announcing the conference in a formulation by J. M. Y. Simpson. Minority languages were defined as 'those "at risk" because of a culturally dominant language (there may even be active opposition) and furthermore [they] are not usually the languages used in all areas of activity indulged in by their speakers.' Simpson has amplified his characterisation of a minority language in his paper printed below.

Our first concern was thus to be the present circumstances and future prospects of languages 'at risk' today -- or threatened, pressured, beleaguered, being encroached on, in recession, declining, dying -- in face of a culturally dominant language. But we naturally wished to compare the situations of the declining languages with the situations of those other tongues which similarly confront alternative or higher status languages within their own nations without, in their cases, showing any obvious sign of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.