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Promoting Minority Languages: Evaluating the Work of Regional Governments (Aberystwyth University)

Centre For Welsh Politics And Society - WISERD@Aberystwyth

A discussion to compare and evaluate the language strategies of regional governments in Europe and beyond.

Speakers: Dr Elin Royles (Aberystwyth University), Alun Davies AM (former Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language), Graham Fraser (former Official Languages Commissioner for Canada), Professor Colin Williams (Cardiff University), Patxi Baztarrika (former Deputy Minister for Language Policy, Autonomous Government of the Basque Country).

With the establishment of the National Assembly, a new period of policy activity was launched, aimed at raising the prospects of the Welsh language in a more coherent manner. Central to this was the trinity of national language strategies adopted by the Welsh Government: firstly, Iaith Pawb (2003), then A Living Language: A Language for Living (2012), and most recently, Cymraeg 2050 (2017), with its ambitious target of trying to raise the number of Welsh speakers to 1 million by 2050. Overall, it was expected that these strategies would provide a common framework for all initiatives and other schemes for supporting the Welsh language.

However, it wasn’t only in Wales that emphasis was placed on official language strategies as a key element in the effort to raise the prospects of minority languages. Over the past two decades, governments in places such as Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand have followed similar paths.

The aim of this discussion will be to compare recent experiences of promoting minority languages in some of these places, and specifically, consider the contribution of the official language strategies adopted by the relevant governments. What were the objectives of these strategies? How have they been utilised? How effective are they? What can Wales learn from other examples? And in what ways has Wales led the way since devolution?

This discussion is arranged with the co-operation of the Centre for Welsh Politics and Society – WISERD@Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth University.

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