The New Speakers Blog

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Language policing in minority communities

Language policing in minority communities

I have recently published a book about new speakers of three minority languages: Breton, Yiddish and Lemko. One of my main aims was to demonstrate that certain aspects of “newspeakerness” seem to be common across a number of different situations of language minoritization.

Common features included:

  • non-intergenerational acquisition of the language, even though many of the people interviewed for the book had family members who spoke the language in question fluently;
  • a struggle over their status as “legitimate speakers”, that is, wider recognition of their speakerhood; and
  • a need to establish a sense of ownership of the language they were new speakers of, in order for it to become (one of) “their” language(s).

A reaction I was not expecting to the publication of the book was contestation over its title.

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Producing narratives

Producing narratives

The COST New Speakers Network provided me with an opportunity to participate in the short term scientific mission at the Centre for General Linguistics in Berlin.

I thank Dr Natalia Gagarina (Centre for General Linguistics in Berlin, Germany) and Dr Agnieszka Otwinowska-Kasztelanic (University of Warsaw, Poland) in particular for their invitation and collaboration on the project.

I have benefited a lot from my visit to the research centre in Berlin.

Working under the guidance of and in collaboration with Natalia and Agnieszka was a great experience for me - I had a chance to access and acquire new knowledge in terms of theories, concepts and methods, to gain and share research expertise.

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