Minority Languages and Cultural Diversity in Europe: Gaelic and Sorbian Perspectives
Author: Konstanze Glaser
To what extent is linguistic continuity a prerequisite for ethno-cultural survival? Focusing on the Gaelic community in Scotland and the Sorbs of Lusatia, this study illuminates core assumptions and rationales in relation to minority language revitalisation ideologies in Scotland and Germany and shows how they have been affected by assimilation processes arising from modernisation and globalisation. A thorough review of relevant theoretical debates is followed by a presentation of historical contexts and a detailed analysis of contemporary discourses about bilingualism, cultural difference and ethno-cultural belonging within the Gaelic and Sorbian communities. Drawing on more than 100 interviews, a questionnaire survey and a wide range of comments by Gaelic and Sorbian speakers in the media, the author identifies current ideological faultlines in Gaelic and Sorbian activist circles and argues that minority language planners must critically engage with competing theoretical paradigms if revitalisation efforts are to be successful.
The English-speaking world has needed a book along these lines for a long time and this is a very ambitious one. The Sorbs and the Gaels allow us to reflect on minority issues from an Eastern and a Western angle. What are the differences? I hope this text will help readers of all backgrounds understand the desire of minorities to maintain their cultures and identities, and how important a contribution marginalised groups can make to Europe's vision of unity in diversity.
Dr Madlena Norberg, WITAJ-Sprachzentrum, Cottbus, Germany
This book combines an impressive theoretical understanding of minority languages and associated language rights, alongside a fascinating examination of two particular European minority language communities. It is exactly the type of critically informed macro/micro analysis needed to take the field forward - I highly recommend it.
Professor Stephen May, University of Waikato, New Zealand
Gaelic and Sorbian have much in common. Konstanze Glaser provides a penetrating analysis of their social situation, and the attitudes and ideologial frameworks that have influenced them to the present day. The book also engages with alternative ways to think about and use Gaelic and Sorbian in today's globalising world. It describes new ways of relating to minoritised languages, and of building new realities for them.
Ken MacKinnon, Honorary Professor in Language Strategy and Celtic, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
Konstanze Glaser is an Associate Lecturer for the Open University and also works as a freelance translator. Her research interests range from contact linguistics, intercultural communication and the (re)production of ethnolinguistic identities to multiculturalism, identity politics and new social movements more generally.
2 Ethnocultural Minorities in Europe: The Political Context
3 Multilingualism as Premise of Cultural Diversity: Theories on Language, Thought and Culture from the Enlightenment to the Present
4 Gaelic in Scotland
5 Sorbian in Lusatia
6 Language Metaphysics on the Ground: Gaelic and Sorbian in Relation to Thought, Culture and Self
7 Narratives of Continuity: Language as a Unifier
8 The (Re)Production of Difference: Language as Source of Social Boundaries