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 Accueil > Colloques > Language Emancipation of Historical Minorities

Language Emancipation of Historical Minorities

23-24 octobre 2008, Paris (France)
Nordic-French workshop

coordoné par :
Anna-Riitta Lindgren (Tromsø) and M.M.Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest (Paris)

Centre de Coopération franco-norvégienne en sciences sociales et humaines
Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme
54, boulevard Raspail, 75006 Paris. Salle 215
Web: http://www.hf.uio.no/paris

Thursday 23.10.
Chair: M.M.Jocelyne Fernandez-Vest

13.30–14.00 Welcome, presentation, practical things (MMJFV and ARL)

15.00-15.15 Break

16.15-16.30 Break

20.00 Dinner

Friday 24.10.
Chair: Anna-Riitta Lindgren

11.00-11.15 Break

12.15-13.30 Lunch

15.00-15.15 Break

16.15-16.45 Discussion



Gerd CARLING, University of Lund, Sweden : The situation of linguistic emancipation of the Swedish Romani toup
Swedish Romani or Traveller Romani (romani or rotepa by the speakers) is the language of the Swedish resande (earlier tattare, a term now avoided, also by the speakers, who use the term rommano of themselves). The language is very similar to the Norwegian Romani, spoken by the tatere (a term they also use of themselves). The language has been spoken in Scandinavia since the 15th century. Today, the number of fluent speakers of these dialects is very low. For Swedish Romani, speakers with full control of the language are not more than 150-200, but the number of individuals with knowledge of a more or less broken variant of the language is higher, maybe 2-3000. For Norwegian Romani, the situation is similar. The language is a so-called non-inflected variant of Romani, built up by grammatical morphemes taken over from the hosting language (Swedish/Norwegian) and a Romani vocabulary. In general, the vocabulary is small (around 1500-2000 lexical roots) and limited to certain semantic areas. Likewise, the usage of the language is limited to certain situations, basically at home and in dialogues between family members about practical and moral issues. Narrative is performed in the hosting language and singing in a special mixed variant. The speakers form communities on the internet, where the language is an important topic. However, there is no common sense as to what the language should look like, how it should be spelled, etcetera. At present, a standardization of the language seems to be very far away. At the same time, the language is dying out rapidly. Most fluent speakers are elderly people, and they are still very reluctant towards documenting their language.
I will give a survey of the situation of linguistic emancipation of the Swedish Romani and report about a project of describing and documenting Swedish and Norwegian Romani.

Denis COSTAOUEC, Université Paris 5-René Descartes: Skol Diwan in Paris toup
A Diwan school is since 2004 an available option for kinder-garden - and nowadays also primary school - in Paris. Following the traditional immersive method in Breton, the Parisian school counts some 45 children in 2008 with a growing interest as the school’s existence slowly gets known. Limited by the material means (Skol Diwan doesn’t have any obligatory inscription fees), this school is the result of the intense action of the Diwan network and the supporting committees, implying raising funds, relations with the town council and the media. Parental militant action is weak and rather limited to the associative running of the school. Such a structure in Paris is characterized by the lack of knowledge of Breton in the students’ families and raises issues such as the territorial or universal nature of the ‘regional’ languages. We shall present in this paper some concrete elements about the way this structure is functioning, its limits and its real advantages.

Jean-Baptiste Battittu COYOS, Centre de Recherche sur la Langue et les Textes Basques (IKER - CNRS), Bayonne : Revitalization of the Basque language : the case of the Northern Basque Country toup
This paper deals with the current situation of the Basque language (euskara) and the policy implemented in its favour in the Northern Basque Country (Ipar Euskal Herria) or French Basque Country. For a good understanding of this situation in its complexity, the different language policies applied in the three Basque administrative units in the Spanish and French states are taken into account, and that of the French state too. The first observation is that the number of speakers falls regularly, even if it is in a less important way now, speakers being more numerous in the elderly than in the younger generation (sociolinguistic investigations of 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006). However efforts are made, in particular in language teaching which now relates to 30% of the children of the elementary school (bilingual teaching and teaching by immersion).
On of the aims of this paper will be to show the limits of the public linguistic policy implemented, for the first time, by the authorities (first stage in 2000, second in 2007). We will also highlight the importance of the French national legislative context, even if this one does not completely limit all the initiatives which can be taken at local level.
On the whole, our analysis is a little different from that of Baxok (ISJL, 2005, 174). If the commitment of the associations of support for the language is very important, that of the society as a whole is less, even if this one becomes gradually more favorable. The public linguistic policy is at its beginnings. This is a first positive step with which one cannot be satisfied.

Beate ELVEBAKK, University of Oslo, Norway, Centre for technology, innovation and culture, and Pia LANE, University of Oslo, Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies : Language standardisation as technology toup
This paper investigates and applies the concept of language emancipation to the situation of the Kven language in Norway by analysing the standardisation of Kven from the perspective of theories of technology.
The Kven went through a period of oppression, and the official Norwegian goal was to make the minorities in the North give up the minority language and shift to Norwegian (Lane 2006). Norway’s ratification of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages has lead to the recognition of Kven as a language, and currently Kven is in the process of standardisation, which is one of the key aspects of language emancipation (Lindgren and Huss, in preparation). However, developing a standard for a minority language is not a neutral process; this has consequences for the status of the language and how the language users relate to the new standard. A potential inherent problem with standardisation processes is whether the language users themselves will accept and identify with the standard chosen. When standardizing a minority language one risks establishing a standard that the language users do not identify with (Gal 2006). Standardisation which was supposed to be emancipatory and empower minority language speakers may create a new form of stigma for those who feel that they cannot live up to the codified standard.
Theories from the tradition of science and technology studies (STS), have long dealt with different aspects of the standardisation of technologies (Latour & Woolgar 1986, Bowker and Star 2000). In this paper, we argue that these insights can also be applied to the case of language standardisation, and that such an approach might be open up fruitful new venues for future work. Thus, the paper explores the relevance for language standardisation of issues such as the users of the standard are “configured” (Woolgar 1991), the exclusionary effects of networks and standards (Star, 1991), the positions and perspectives of non-users (Wyatt 2003), and the political role of technologies/standards.
References : Gal, S. 2006. “Contradictions of standard language in Europe” Social Anthropology 2006 14:2:163-181 • Lane, P. 2006. A Tale of Two Towns: A Comparative Study of Language and Culture Contact. PhD-Thesis. University of Oslo • Lindgren, A.R. and Huss, L. (in preparation). The many faces of language emancipation • Bowker, G. and Leigh, S. 2000. Sorting Things out: Classification and its Consequences. The MIT Press, Princeton • Latour, B and Woolgar, S. 1986. Laboratory Life. The Construction of a Scientific Fact. Princeton University Press, Princeton • Woolgar, S. 1991. “Configuring the User: the Case of Usability Trials”. In John Law (ed.): A Sociology of Monsters. Essays on Power, Technology, and Domination. Routledge, London • Wyatt, S. 2003. “Non-users also matter : the construction of users and non-users of the Internet” in Oudshoorn, N & Pinch, T: How users matter : the co-construction of users and technology. The MIT Press, Princeton

M.M.Jocelyne FERNANDEZ-VEST, C.N.R.S. & Université Paris 3-Sorbonne Nouvelle, Laboratoire de Langues et Civilisations à Tradition Orale (LACITO) : Emancipation and typological evolution of minority languages toup
After reviewing some of the notions involved, I will refer to the contrastive situation of 2 of the Nordic minorities, Swedes and Sami in Finland, with a historical, socio-cultural and linguistic disparity. The situation of Samic languages has in fact a double originality. FU languages, i.e typologically different from the neighbouring IE languages of the Lappish and Baltic regions, they are also languages with an exclusively oral tradition which have been submitted for two decades to an important effort of planning and adaptation to the written form, as is specially the case of the major variant, Northern Sami. I will emphasize the danger, less directly perceptible than the permanent decrease of the native speakers’ community, which threatens an oral language suddenly introduced into a new communicative field. The specificity of orality as a cognitive and linguistic context will be examplified, opposed to the constraints created by the acquisition of written language. The weakly controled influence of majority models, FU and/or IE, added to the written codification, modify the morphosyntactic and pragmatic typology of the language. I will argue that the still hypothetic survival of this exotic language in the European environment requires an inventory and a planned protection of its structural and functional identity.
A short comparison will be skissed with 2 other minority languages of the region –meänkieli in Sweden and Võro-Seto in South-Estonia – focusing on the importance of cultural programs like ethnofuturism for the revival of minority languages. The final question will be : to what extent can the achievements of Nordic countries, which appear to be pioneers in the field of multilingual planning, be applied to other territories, and their experience contribute to a general study of the complex relationships between language, identity and socialization ?
References : Fernandez-Vest M.M.J., 2005, « Information structure and typological change : Northern Sami challenged by Indo-European models », in M.M.J. Fernandez-Vest (dir.), Les langues ouraliennes aujourd’hui: approche linguistique et cognitive. The Uralic Languages today: a linguistic and cognitive approach, Préface de Claude Hagège, Paris, Ed. Honoré Champion, Bibl. de l’Ecole des Hautes Etudes, N° 340, p. 563-576. • 2006, (with Jim Miller), « Spoken and written language », in Giuliano Bernini and Marcia L. Schwartz (eds.), Pragmatic organization of discourse, Berlin-New York, Mouton de Gruyter, Empirical approaches to language typology, Eurotyp 20-8, p. 9-64.

Leena HUSS, Uppsala University, Sweden, Centre for Multiethnic Research : Language emancipation through international cooperation : The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages toup
The Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages was created in 1992 and entered into force in 1998 when five countries had signed and ratified it. Today, the number of ratifications has reached 23 and many more countries have signed but not yet ratified the Charter. In the present paper, the focus is on the Charter and its impact on minority language situations in some of the ratifying countries. Examples of cases where significant Charter-related changes have taken place will be given and discussed from a language emancipation point-of-view.

Béatrice JEANNOT-FOURCAUD, Institut Universitaire de Formation des Maîtres (IUFM) de Guadeloupe : Attitudes towards the languages and identity in a situation of diglossy : the case of Guadeloupe toup
In Guadeloupe, people speak two languages: French and Creole languages which are linked since the colonization. Indeed, Creole has developed partly from French, and now the largest part of its lexicon comes from French. The two languages are always linked, since they share the same ‘niche écolinguistique’ (Calvet, 1999).
At the beginnings of creolization, Creole was the only way to speak between slaves and colonizers. After four centuries things are radically different. Most of the people are bilingual: French and Creole are spoken by everybody and these two languages can be spoken in almost all the situations. It means that people can generally choose when they want to speak Creole or French.
However, it seems that Creole language still has only a minor status. We can observe it through the opinion of pupils and also of young primary school teachers. After analyzing the reality of this fact, we will try to propose solutions in order to change the way of conceiving its own linguistic identity, in such a case.
References : Calvet, Louis-Jean, 1999, Pour une écologie des langues du monde, Paris, Plon, 304 p.

Michel LAUNEY, Université Paris 7 & IRD-Guyane, Centre d’Etudes des Langues Indigènes d’Amérique (CELIA): Languages of Overseas French Territories and the French educational system toup
In French overseas DOM-TOM (Départements, territoires and collectivités d’Outre-mer), about 50 languages are spoken, a fact which is largely underestimated and seldom mentioned in the debates about the so-called langues régionales. On the other hand, these languages show original features which lead to a more accurate way of considering the issue such as it appears in Metropolitan France.
     – They are either creole languages (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana, Réunion) or typologically « remote » languages (American Indian, Malayo-Polynesian, Melanesian, Bantu)
     – Some of them have a very small amount of speakers.
     – With the exception of a few Melanesian and American Indian languages, most of them (even with few speakers) are very vigorous with a high rate of transmission
      – Many children in some DOM-TOM, even French (future) citizens, come to school without any knowledge of French, a case which disappeared in Metropolitan France in the beginning of the XXth century.
The French educational system is traditionally very reluctant to take into account the children’s first language if other than French. In most of the DOM-TOM, this bias has led to such obviously dismal results that a gradual change of policy eventually occurred in the 1990. However, this more open-minded attitude meets many challenges from social, cultural and linguistic points of view. Mastering French and developing balanced bilingualism are probably one and the same goal, but efficient paths to this goal are not necessarily the same, an obvious fact which stumbles across French traditional centralism.
This paper will give data and delve into educational issues in such a many-faced context.

Daniel LE BRIS, Université de Bretagne Occidentale (UBO), Centre de Recherche Bretonne et Celtique (CRBC), Brest : The use of Breton and its image in the official and political institutions of Brittany toup
This paper will try to give an insight into the manner in which the official and political institutions of Brittany regard the Breton language nowadays. Culture plays a crucial role in claims of people promoting minority languages as the Breton one. We shall consider here how the language may be included as a medium of culture: a vehicle of culture often considered on one hand as a literary or aesthetic object, and on the other hand regarded through an anthropological point of view as a value of a social organisation, a collective memory, a social know-how.
To a certain extent the linguistic specificity is finally unrecognized or misunderstood. Thus to estimate the interest of Breton and of minority languages in general, a proper linguistic perspective should be developped in that context. The language should be more considered as a product of the human mind. It would then open new fields in terms of legitimacy, educational efficiency, intellectual stimulation, mutual respect.

Elizabeth LANZA, University of Oslo, Norway : Narratives we live by: Language, culture and identity among multilinguals in Norway toup
Immigration to Norway has increased dramatically the past thirty years with migrants coming from every continent in the world. Multiculturalism and multilingualism are inevitable consequences of such migration. Contact between different cultural and linguistic groups contributes to an increased need to develop symbolic expressions of identities and to the formation of identities that are hybrid and complex. This is also the case for historical minorities, as evidenced in their struggles for recognition and language emancipation. In this paper I will present a newly funded interdisciplinary research project that addresses the issue of language, culture and identity among multilinguals through a focus on narrative discourse. The issue of identity, or rather identities, has figured prominently in recent years in various disciplines in poststructuralist approaches to the discussion of the self and the other. Narratives structure our experience, our knowledge and our thoughts and hence provide an excellent locus for investigating the relationship between language, culture and identity.

Anna-Riitta LINDGREN, University of Tromsø, Norway, Faculty of Humanities : What is language emancipation? toup
According to Anthony Giddens, emancipatory politics is concerned with reducing or eliminating an illegitimate domination of some individuals or groups by others, so that justice, equality and participation for all will become possible (Giddens 1991:210-215). There is many kind of emancipatory processes connected with language or linguistic rights. In this workshop, I will talk about emancipatory processes especially in multilingual societies in the Nordic countries. In the context of multilingualism, by the emancipation of a language I mean the improving of the position of an underprivileged language, dialect, ethnolect or other kind of linguistic variety through political efforts and language planning. What seems to be charasteristic for those processes, and what kind of differencies there is between them?
Reference: Giddens, Anthony 1991: Modernity and Self-Identity. Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Polity Press, Cambridge.

Philippe MARTEL, CNRS & Université de Montpellier, Centre d’Etudes Occitanes : Occitan in the French educational system for 50 years : from pure volunteering to a discrete professionalization toup
One century ago, the mere idea of having occitan, or any « patois » for that matter, taught by French « republican » (or private and religious as well) school was utterly preposterous. The priority was, of course, the imposition of French, and French only, by all means, everywhere.
Repetitive and stubborn revendication since at least 1870 was awarded at last with the 1951-voted law « Deixonne », which (reluctantly) granted a minimal space for regional languages (basque, breton, catalan and occitan), outside official programs, without any obligation and without any real academic sanction. At that pionner-like time, occitan was taught by teachers whose basic professional formation was not in occitan, and waslearnt by a small bunch of enthusiasts. Autodidactism was therefore the rule. Since that time, there has been some progress at a qualitative as at a quantitative level. It is by now possible to follow a complete cursus from primary school till university, integrating occitan beside, of course, other disciplines and french. There is now a true status for those who teach occitan, with an universitary formation and a professional recognition. But this is true only for the happy few. And professionalization does not mean that old and lasting problems are solved : what form of occitan is to be taught ? By what pedagogic means adapted to the sociolinguistic situation of the language ? And for what use, latter : social and communicational ? or merely cultural ? Those are the questions that have to get an answer from french educational system, but from those who are dedicated to teaching occitan as well.

Saimir MILE, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), Paris : Who is currently endangering Rromani, if ever? toup
The Economist, a British liberal weekly, wrote recently: « The Roma tongue – originally related to Sanskrit – has splintered into dozens of mutually incomprehensible dialects. The sprinkling of internationally active Roma activists have developed their own version (sometimes derisively known as ‘NGO Roma’), but it bears little relationship to the creoles still spoken in the settlements ». What does this mean in practical and sociolinguistic terms? How does Rromani, as used in international forum, meet the long-lasting demand of political recognition? In his functioning in political debates, is Rromani so different from other languages « spoken in the settlements »? Do we speak a language or a culture? And by the way what is the speaker’s cultural liberty in international institutions?

Hilde SOLLID, University of Tromsø, Norway : Ethnolects and language revitalization toup
Speakers with a multilingual history confront our perception of the Norwegian society. Established linguistic and ethnic categories do not fit, and these speakers foreground an immense challenge, namely to adequately describe and explain the complex linguistic processes in past and present time. In Kven and Sami societies in Northern Norway the complexity adheres mainly to two divergent processes: language shift from Kven/Sami to Norwegian and language revitalization of Kven/Sami. This paper explores the role of the Norwegian varieties, i.e. ethnolects, in language encounters in the north. In short, ethnolects are varieties of a majority language that have developed trough processes of language shift, and such varieties might be phonologically, lexically, morphosyntactically and/or prosodically marked. The main questions in this paper are how the ethnolects display ethnic and sociolinguistic complexity in Northern Norway, and how the ethnolects are one out of several linguistic resources for identity construction in light of emancipation of the historical languages of the north.
Selected references: Bull, Tove (1991): Språklig identitet i ei nordnorsk fjordsamebygd. Danske folkemål 33. 23–35 • Clyne, Michael, Eisikovits, Edina & Tollfree, Laura (2002): Ethnolects as in-group varieties. Anna Duszak (ed.): Us and Others. Social identities across languages, discourses and cultures. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company. 133–157 • Fought, Carmen (2006): Language and Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press • Schilling-Estes, Natalie (2004): Constructing ethnicity in interaction. Journal of Sociolinguistics 8/2, 2004. 163-195 • Sollid, Hilde (2005): Språkdannelse og –stabilisering i møtet mellom kvensk og norsk. Oslo: Novus • Sollid, Hilde (in press): Nordnorske etnolekter. Speculum Boreale.

John Shaun NOLAN, University of Copenhagen, Denmark : Perceptions of the status and future of Gallo in the context of its inclusion in Brittany's language education policy toup
This paper aims to shed light on the attitudes that eastern Breton school pupils have toward their heritage language, Gallo, Brittany's Oïl language variety, in the context of recent changes to its socio-political status. Situated in considerations regarding attitudes and ideology and their importance to language policy, this comparative attitudinal study is based on questionnaires, of both a quantitative and qualitative nature, and follow-up interviews with school pupils of Gallo and their parents in 2003 and 2004. Results suggest that although language attitudes towards Gallo may continue to be negative, there are clear indications of a favourable generational alteration in respondent attitudes with regard to it. This is indicative of a certain limited success enjoyed by Gallo promotional organisations, and is testimony to their role in the language policy environment as a bottom-up force of some tangible worth.

Erling WANDE, University of Stockholm, Sweden : Minority languages in Sweden, especially Meänkieli toup
Along with France Sweden for very long was reluctant to recognize minority language rights in their own country. There was hardly any discussion about the European Charters for Regional or Minority Languages in Europe (ECRML) and the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM). In the beginning of the 1990s, however, Sweden joined the European Union, and as a consequence of this decision Sweden began feeling obliged to take these treaties into consideration. In the year 2000 Sweden ratified both treaties, which meant that the following languages are protected by the charter (ECRML): Finnish, Meänkieli (Tornedal Finnish), Sámi, Romani Chib and Yiddisch.
One of the consequences of the ”Napoleon wars” in Europe was that Sweden was involvd in a war against Russia. Sweden lost Finland and according to the peace treaty of Hamina in 1809 the border was drawn along the Torne river with its affluents. In the peripheral north Sweden now had a small Finnish-speaking minority at the Russian-Finnish border, on the western side of the Torne Valley (Tornedalen).
When schools were established in Sweden, according to a law of 1842, instruction in the Tornedalian schools was in the beginning given in Finnish. At the end of the 19th century the Swedish authorities started a Swedishization policy by means of supporting schools economically on the condition that instruction was to be given only in Swedish. Implementation of this decision started in 1888 with four new schools established with Swedish language instruction only. This formed to an efficient means for carrying out the intended policy.
For the Torne Valley people this caused a situation with an unbalanced bilingualism, where the own language of the Tornedalians, Finnish now got the status of a spoken language only. At the end of the 20th century the Swedish policy seemed to get the effect of a threat against Finnish, which was losing terrain in the area, and causing Swedish monolingualism among part of the younger Tornedalians. This situation, in turn, got a group young Tornedalians to start an organization with the aims of preserving their own, Finnish-based, language and culture, which they feared was strongly threatened by a total loss. This association was called The National Association of Swedish Tornedalians (Svenska Tornedalingars Riksförbund-Tornionlaaksolaiset, STR-T, 1980). The existence of this association was decisive for the Tornedalians with regard to the implementation of the above-mentioned European treaties in Sweden: without the existence of an association and its activities to get the Tornedalians recognized as a language minority, they would not have been taken into consideration in this context. In a way this turned out to be a success story for the Tornedalians: no one could have imagined that they, only 20 years only after the forming of the association, would achieve this goal. But was this too late?
The paper will give some details about the political process, indicated above, which got as one of its final results the development of the vernacular of the Tornedalians from Finnish to Meänkieli (”our language”), but also discuss, to some extent, critical views that have been expressed concerning Sweden’s implementation of the treaties today.

Claus Peter ZOLLER, University of Oslo, Norway : Romani in Norway and the Tater language project toup
The paper intends to say something on the situation of Romani in Norway from the perspective of the so-called tater språk prosjekt, located at the University of Oslo. Goal of the project is the study of various linguistic phenomena in Norwegian Romani plus a socio-linguistic investigation into the language uses (code-switch). Whereas the former project part uses, to certain extend, already published data and data collected in interviews, the latter should ideally be based on participant observation of natural communication situations. This is, however, a difficult task as Romani is largely used either when there are no outsiders or when outsiders should be excluded from a communication situation. A provisional way out of this state of affairs has been found by studying the Internet pages of various Roma organisations in Norway. Does the language of these sites say something about the way the Roma community positions itself within the Norwegian majority society? How do they present and construct their past, including their Indian origins? And what do they say about their language, its origins and its rather bleak future? These questions will be raised vis-à-vis the more comprehensive question: Who are the addressees these pages aim at? It will be shown that clearer answers can be given by contrasting these Norwegian sites with similar ones in other countries, notably in Germany.

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