How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.
Too small to be big, but also too big to be really small, medium-sized language communities (MSLCs) face their own challenges in a rapidly globalising world where multilingualism and mobility seem to be eroding the old securities that the monolingual nation states provided. The questions to be answered are numerous: What are the main areas in which the position of these languages is actually threatened? How do these societies manage their diversity (both old and new)? Has state machinery really become as irrelevant in terms of language policy as their portrayals often suggest? This book explores the responses to these and other challenges by seven relatively successful MSLCs, so that their lessons can be applied more generally to other languages striving for long term survival.