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Conference Information

Full Title: Maintaining Languages, Developing Multilingualism

Location: Vienna, Austria
Start Date: 10-Jun-2013 - 11-Jun-2013
Contact: Johanna Laakso
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: The conference is part of the official closing event of the EU-FP7 research project ELDIA (European Language Diversity for All).

Individual and societal multilingualism is now generally accepted or even officially defined as the goal of national or Europe-wide policies. While minorities - both old minorities and migrant groups - generally understand the importance of knowing the majority language, most policy-makers seem to agree that minority languages should be supported. More and more Europeans, speakers of minority languages as well as representatives of largely monolingual majority groups, regard individual multilingualism as something beneficial and encourage their children to learn many languages. Revitalisation of endangered languages is officially endorsed, and many European states have recently passed or revised laws which support minorities and their languages.

At the same time, however, in many European countries the concerns over the linguistic integration of migrants easily turn into practices enforcing monolingualism and language loss. Many migrant and minority groups still experience linguistic discrimination - or even consciously choose not to transmit their heritage language to their children. In practice, the noble goals of maintaining and developing multilingualism may be severely challenged by increasing mobility, new forms of communication and new needs in education and in the world of work - or even by new forms of extreme nationalism and xenophobia. ‘Protecting’ a minority language whose speakers live in a multilingual environment and are expected to master both the local majority language and international vehicular languages (above all, English) is not a simple task. When it comes to the allocation of resources, minority languages often compete not only with national and international languages but also with each other.

In the research project ELDIA, the main aim was to investigate the interplay of languages and the maintenance of language diversity, to contribute to the understanding of how Europeans use their multiple languages and to create a tool (the European Language Vitality Barometer, EuLaViBar) for assessing the vitality of languages. Now we want to take one step further and ask how individual languages can be maintained and revitalised while at the same time affirming individual and societal multilingualism.
Linguistic Subfield: Anthropological Linguistics; Applied Linguistics; Sociolinguistics
LL Issue: 23.4281

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