Language and Identity Symposium
LANGUAGE AND IDENTITY
Abstracts (alphabetical by author)
See PhD student session abstracts.
"Europe" is geographically and politically defined as "the Western part of Eurasia - like a continent" and as "the complex of states which shall develop by a union of the European States" (Duden s.v Europa) Beside this definition from a dictionary there is still another meaning often not mentioned in encyclopedias, which finds its expression in the collocation "unity in diversity": Europe as a cultural term. In this sense Europe is synonymous with Occident, "the cultural unity of the European peoples, formed by Antiquity and Christianity" (Duden s.v. Abendland). Such a construction has to speak also one common language, all diversity notwithstanding, otherwise it were not a unity. That's why it is legitimate to research the vocabulary of European languages - in this case that of the German language - in its European context. In doing so we use the cultural term: Language is medium, materialization and object of different forms of culture: Standing in relation to other languages it shows one part of the "unity in diversity". The DWEE-project analyzes the position of the German language within the European language association (cf. the EUROTYP-project - critically, Van Pottelberge 2001. Language and culture is also the theme in, e.g. Dinzelbacher 2008) from several perspectives: loanwords, "Europeisms", "Europhrases", Germanisms. The question of "language and identity" is put from two directions: On the one hand the influence of the English language on German and the other languages in Europe is controversially discussed, on the other hand the role of language for the European identity will be clarified.
Dinzelbacher, Peter (ed.) 2008: Europäische Mentalitätsgeschichte. Stuttgart: Kröner. (Kröners Taschenausgabe; 469).
Van Pottelberge, Jeroen 2001: "Sprachbünde: Beschreiben sie Sprachen oder Linguisten?". Linguistik-online 8,1. http://www.linguistik-online.de/1_01/VanPottelberge.html. (Gesehen am 10.06.2010).
Duden: Wissenschaftlicher Rat der Dudenredaktion (ed.) 2000: Duden - Das große Wörterbuch. Mannheim: Verlag Bibliographisches Institut & F. A. Brockhaus AG. CD-ROM auf der Basis der 3., völlig neu bearbeiteten und erweiterten Auflage der Buchausgabe in 10 Bänden (1999).
Friday, October 21, 11:15-12:00 (co-authored with Rosemarie Lühr) "How European is the German vocabulary?"
All Baltic countries have Russian-speaking communities that acquired their minority status after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Besides the parallelism in the recent history, the Russian-speaking minorities in Baltic countries also have important dissimilarities that have had an impact on the collective identity development. The paper focuses on language usage patterns amongst the Russian speaking communities in these countries and relates this to the perception of cultural similarity with the titular nations and to the perception of interethnic discordance. The main finding is that the wider the usage of the state language in their country of residence among the local Russian speakers, the higher is the perception of cultural similarity with the majority and the lower the level of interethnic discordance. While in Lithuania, the Russian-speaking community seems to develop a hyphenated Lithuanian-Russian identity, in Estonia and Latvia there are large subgroups of Russian speakers whose identity develops through opposition to the majority collective identity.
Saturday, October 22, 10:50-11:35 "Russian-speakers in the Baltic states: Language use and identity"
In the post -conflict years after the second world war Europe's cultural and linguistic patrimony was being rebuilt. Among those who supported these efforts were enterprising members of the EU Parliament who had a vision of a Europe where not only the 'major' languages were of importance, but the regional and minority languages as well. Some of these languages were within States, others crossed borders. There was a need to construct an infrastructure for them, in order to place them on a solid footing in education and in the wider society.
Leaders in the enterprise to have an inclusive multilingualism in the European Union were distinguished members of the EU parliament such as Gaetano Arfé and Giuseppe Lenarduzzi . Also interested were national and regional politicians, educationalists and administrators from regions where there was a strong minority language component.
Following the decision to allocate a budget line for such activity in 1983, there was a buildup of activity that culminated in a new organization- the European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages. Formally established in 1985 as an independent NGO funded by a number of interested States, it continued its work until 2009; until 2006 it had co-funding from the European Commission. This paper surveys its activities, successes and failures over that time-span in the cause of minority and lesser-used languages and an inclusive multilingualism.
Thursday, October 20, 13-13:45 "The European Bureau for Lesser-Used Languages: A pioneer in the cause of linguistic diversity in the EU"
Scripts and politics in modern Central Europe
Tomasz Kamusella (St Andrews)
At present two scripts are employed in Central Europe, Latin and Cyrillic, or three, if we include Greece in the region. However, until the mid-20th century, other scripts (and their different types) were used in official capacity and book production, too, namely, Arabic, Armenian, Church Cyrillic, Gothic and Hebrew. In addition, Glagolitic and (Nordic and Hungarian) Runes were sometimes recalled for ideological reasons. Each of these scripts was or has been used for writing in numerous languages. Initially, script choices were dictated by religion (Latin letters for Western Christianity, Church Cyrillic for Slavophone Orthodox Christians, or the Arabic writing system for Muslims), usually connected to a holy book in an ecclesistical language committed to parchment in a specific script. When vernaculars began to make an appearance in writing, especially in the 16th century and later, their users stuck to the scripts of their holy books. The process of building ethnolinguistically defined nation-states and changing ideas about what modernity should be about in the spehere of culture, radically limited the number of scripts in official and de facto use. Two scripts, to a varying degree, are official only in Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Ukraine. The European Union with, thus far, its three official scripts (Cyrillic, Greek and Latin), should actions follow lip service, stands a good chance of reviving the tradition of European multi-scripturality, alongside its committment to multilingualism.
Thursday, October 20 13:45-14:30 "Scripts and politics in modern Central Europe"
Until quite lately, internationally accessible research of European minority languages has been heavily biased to such Western European autochthonous minorities as Irish, Frisian, Welsh and Catalan. Especially the languages of the Eastern European and the non-Indo-European minorities, as well as those of most migrant groups, are still largely underrepresented or misrepresented even in the contemporary research. Since March 2010, the international, interdisciplinary EU-FP7 project ELDIA (European Language Diversity for All, www.eldia-project.org) has sought to reorient European minority research by impugning some of the established "truths", theories and central concepts underlying our perception of the role, the state and the perspectives of minority languages in the globalizing and glocalising Europe.
In our presentation we shall illustrate, on the basis of a selection of Finno-Ugric minority languages studied within the ELDIA-project, how the interdisciplinary research of lesser-known, less investigated, less standardized and less "typical" European minority languages can contribute to a better and more realistic understanding of the traditional European language diversity and promote its sustainable maintenance.
Saturday, October 22, 9:00-9:45"Who needs Karelian, Kven or Austrian Hungarian - and why? On revising the study of European minority languages"
Modernisation, cultural imposition and a gradual shift from essentialist to more dynamic understandings of ethnicity have combined to undermine original conceptions of culture and community among the Gaels in Scotland and the Sorbs in Germany. This paper will analyse the identities and networks that Gaelic/ Sorbian language ability appear to produce today, and look at the ways in which geographic and intergenerational differences, as well as varying levels of Gaelic/ Sorbian language proficiency, are acknowledged by activists. It asks what growing numbers of "learners" or L2 users of Gaelic/ Sorbian have meant for inherited definitions of Gaelicness/ Sorbianness and how their involvement in debates about the future of Gaelic/ Sorbian has affected the premises of Gaelic/ Sorbian language development and associated cultural revitalisation strategies. The final part of the presentation assesses the challenges such trends imply for Gaelic/ Sorbian officials and regional politicians, as well as decision-makers in the field of Gaelic/ Sorbian-medium education.
Friday, October 21, 13:20-14:05 "Gaelic and Sorbian as multiple boundary markers: Implications of minority language activism in Scotland and Lusatia"
A growing body of empirical linguistic studies suggests that selecting a certain grammatical option can serve as a means of constructing and/or manifesting individual identities and group memberships. In my paper I shall discuss a few examples drawn from recent studies by my doctoral students and myself, with the aim of shedding some new light on the fascinating interdependencies between language use, identities and social belongingness. The analyses to be discussed cover a variety of languages - Karelian, Northern Sámi, Swedish and Latvian - and draw from various types of empirical data, including spoken interview discourses, newspapers, 19th century texts and contemporary literature.
Friday, October 21, 14:05-14:50 "What is said is one thing, what it tells about identity is another: On interplay of identities and grammatical choices"
The current presentation focuses on contact-induced language change in Russian-language blogs. Blogs are by definition personalized space where personal language planning occurs, which provides some insights into identity construction. So far contact-induced language change has been investigated in oral speech; blog data would provide a useful basis for comparison: what kind of contact-induced language change takes place there, and whether and how these phenomena are similar to those in oral speech. Contact-induced change in computer-mediated communication may be evidence of some degree of conventionalization.
Saturday, October 22, 11:35-12:20 "Estonian impact in Russian-language blogs: Contact-induced language change at work"
Pushing an open door? Language policy at an Irish university
John Walsh (Galway)
Under Ireland's Official Languages Act, 2003, all public bodies are obliged to improve their services in Irish to the public. This is achieved by a mixture of direct provisions, ministerial regulations and language schemes, internal language plans outlining how each public body will offer more services in Irish over an agreed period.
This paper is based on an ongoing study of implementation of the language legislation at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). It begins by contextualising NUIG policy in the broader framework of national Irish language policy and also alludes to the language policies of universities in other bilingual countries.
The majority of the paper is based on a pilot study of NUIG's language scheme which was undertaken during the summer of 2011. This involved monitoring the Irish language services provided by NUIG and assessing the implementation of regulations relating to stationery and signage on campus. The study also collates recent survey data of student attitudes towards the provision of services in Irish.
NUIG is an interesting case study because it has a relatively large Irish-speaking student cohort due to its proximity to the strongest Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking area) in Ireland. Because of this, NUIG (and its predecessor University College, Galway) has had statutory obligations towards the Irish language since 1929, many decades before the enactment of the Official Languages Act.
Thursday, October 20, 14:50-15:35 "Pushing an open door? Language policy at an Irish university"