Languages are integral to our identity, our heritage, and our humanity. With most of the world’s languages endangered to some degree, thousands of language communities have committed to revitalization efforts, from documentation and renewal to revitalization and maintenance. These efforts respond to the urgency of the situation in the absence of robust comparative research.Sustained efforts in language revitalization and the accumulated literature on these efforts are at a point where larger-scaled comparative analysis and synthesis are possible. To address this need, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage has developed an interdisciplinary research program, Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe (SMiLE), that seeks to examine autochthonous (native to a place where found) or minoritized language revitalization initiatives in Europe.
Based on research at the Center and proceedings from an international workshop in Barcelona in 2016, the project offered competitive awards in November 2017 to six teams of researchers working collaboratively in language revitalization in Europe. From January 2018 until July 2019, they will produce ethnographic case studies focusing on the process of revitalization in their communities, including how programs build on motivational responses to social, cultural, political, and economic factors. In order to produce comparable profiles, each team will minimally answer a set of research questions (found under program materials).
The case studies will lead to more generalizable data, which in turn can be applicable to other languages. The research teams and advisory board will work together to analyze the data and present the results to the originating communities, other minoritized or endangered language communities, and academic audiences.
The awardees consist of researchers embedded in Galician, Greko and Griko, Irish, North Frisian, Occitan, and Upper and Lower Sorbian communities. Read more about each of these case studies and the principle researchers below.