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The Role of Translation in the Revitalization Process of Minority Languages: The Case of Basque

Summary

All literature reflects the existing discourse in a given community, and translation –as a process of rewriting texts– is a readily accessible tool which linguistic minorities can use to shift power dynamics in their society or, at least, suggest new paradigms and new discourses. In this paper we analyze the key role which translation plays in the cultural systems of minority languages and how translation helps revitalize these languages. The aim of the paper is to defend this key role of translation in the revitalization processes of all minority languages and, at the same time, to highlight the main obstacles one may come across and to try to establish some basic guidelines which may be applied throughout all these processes to maximize their results. Therefore, this paper deals with language standardization, language planning, choice of texts to translate, source languages of the translations, target audience of the translations, diglossia, actual bilingualism, language orientation in translations and the dichotomy between originals written in the language and translations. In order to do so, we will first picture the theoretical frame upon which this paper is based and we will go on to discuss translation into Basque. Finally, we will establish a set of guidelines for other minority languages.

Open access
Why Do Adults Decide to Learn a Minority Language? A Study of the Motivation(S) of Potential New Speakers of West Frisian

Summary

This study focuses on the motivation of adults learning a minority language, based on a tripartite model: integrative and instrumental (Gardner & Lambert, 1959; 1972) and personal (see Benson, 1991) motivation. Adults learning a minority language are potential new speakers, a group that has been described as central to language revitalisation (see Pujolar & O’Rourke, 2018). Since the motivation to learn these languages does not seem to be linked to economic success or wider job opportunities, researchers have taken interest in knowing what drives people to learn a minority language (e.g., O’Rourke & DePalma, 2016). In this study, (potential) new speaker motivations were investigated by means of ten open-ended interviews with adult learners of West Frisian—a minority language spoken in the Netherlands—in two different settings: Afûk Frisian courses (a more traditional learning setting) and Bernlef Frisian courses (a student association that offers informal courses for their members). The results show a predominance of integrative and personal motivation (also found in O’Rourke & DePalma, 2016), but not exclusively (as suggested by Jaffe, 2015) since the language appears to be tightly linked to the province and it is deemed beneficial—to a certain extent—for socioeconomic success in the province.

Open access
Attitudes and Language Use of (Potential) New Speakers of a Minoritized Language: The Case of Adults Learning West Frisian in Formal Courses

Summary

Adults learning a minoritized language are potential new speakers, that is “adults who acquire a socially and communicatively consequential level of competence and practice in a minority language” (Jaffe, 2015; see also O’Rourke, Pujolar, & Ramallo, 2015). New speakers’ research has become quite common recently, marking a shift from traditional notions of speakerness in minority contexts, built around the Fishmanian discourse of reversing language shift (see Kubota, 2009). The new speaker—actually neo-speaker—is one of the seven categories put forward by Grinevald and Bert (2011), who considered them central to language revitalization. Answering the call for more data on new speakers of minoritized languages in O’Rourke, Pujolar, & Ramallo, 2015, this research aims to start the debate on the new speakers of Frisian (see Belmar, 2018; Belmar, Eikens, Jong, Miedema, & Pinho, 2018; and Belmar, Boven, & Pinho, 2019) by means of a questionnaire filled in by adults learning the language in the evening courses offered by Afûk. This article presents an analysis of their backgrounds, their attitudes towards the language, and their language use.

Open access