LINGUIST List 14.3554

Mon Dec 22 2003

FYI: Linguistic Institute of Ireland

Editor for this issue: Anne Clarke <annelinguistlist.org>


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  1. Bernard Spolsky, Linguistic Institute of Ireland

Message 1: Linguistic Institute of Ireland

Date: Sat, 20 Dec 2003 17:58:19 +0200
From: Bernard Spolsky <spolsbmail.biu.ac.il>
Subject: Linguistic Institute of Ireland

Having heard of the intention of the Irish Ministry of Education to close
the Institi�id Teangeola�ochta �ireann (IT�), four of us sent the following
letter to the Irish Times where it was published on 17 December 2003:

Madam, - Issues of national language policy are moving up the agenda of all
European governments. Whether it is concern with fluency and literacy in
stated languages, maintenance of minority languages, learning foreign
languages, coping with the languages of immigrants or a combination of these
issues, the need for specialised national research and monitoring centres is
now universally recognised. While many countries are consolidating,
developing and integrating their research capacities in these areas, the
Minister for Education and Science in Ireland appears intent on moving in
the opposite direction. The decision to discontinue funding for Ireland's
national linguistics research institute, Institi�id Teangeola�ochta �ireann
(IT�), effectively forces its immediate closure. The team of specialist
researchers and valuable databases assembled after substantial state
investment will be dispersed, and current programmes terminated in
mid-stream. Even on crude cost-effectiveness calculations this action, and
the manner of its implementation, seems to us indefensible. The Irish
language promotion enterprise has unique characteristics and other countries
have learned valuable lessons from your efforts. The considerable academic
interest internationally in the Irish language maintenance effort in recent
decades, however, has arisen in large part from IT�'s excellent work. We
believe Institi�id Teangeola�ochta �ireann is an irreplaceable social,
educational, and linguistic resource and its value in terms of its
contribution nationally and internationally greatly exceeds the modest
funding it has received. It would be an extraordinary waste of resources and
talent to abandon its prestigious programme of research and to disperse its
academic staff. 

- Yours, etc., 
SUZANNE ROMAINE, Merton Professor of English Language, University of Oxford 
BERNARD SPOLSKY, Professor Emeritus, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
MIQUEL STRUBELL, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Barcelona
JOSHUA FISHMAN, Professor Emeritus, Yeshiva University, New York, US.
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