International Conference on Minority Languages

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Mar 10 22:31:32 UTC 2004

Forwarded from Linguist-List: International Conference on Minority

Date: 01-Jul-2005 - 02-Jul-2005
Location: Trieste, Italy
Contact: Marina Ussai
Contact Email: secretary.icml at
Meeting URL:

Minority languages in post-2004 Europe. Problems and challenges.

Trieste represented in the past a symbol of the multicultural Hapsburg
empire. But later on, during the Fascist regime, it also became a symbol
of ethnic and linguistic intolerance and nationalism. During the Cold War,
it was a peripheral border town between West and East. It is now
re-emerging as a meeting-point of diverse ethno-linguistic environments,
languages and societies. As Trieste has to re-consider its own position
and function in an enlarged Europe, the ICML-X would like to re-think some
basic considerations concerning minority languages in the post-2004 Europe
that will quite soon lead towards a possible United Europe. Language is
definitely one of the basic discriminants of ethnic and national
difference, its typology and intensity of use indicates the dimension and
the quality of different cultural spaces, the success of its survival
across different generations, the vitality of language codes, its level of
social attraction and status.Emigration, social and political events in
Europe, especially in marginal areas or in those of cultural contact,
contributed substantially to radical changes of the original language map
creating multiethnic and multilanguage areas as well as quite common
variable identities.The big challenge for modern Europe is to create
social, economic, and political integration maintaining cultural
diversities and thus offering a new model of civilisation that will not
coincide with the Americanisation and the "melting pot".This new European
model will be tested and eventually come into action in many European
contact areas. Contact between different nations, ethnic and linguistic
communities, and the creation of rules for coexistence and the
preservation of cultural peculiarities are the main issues.

The elimination of the last national, ethnic and linguistic "borders"
will imply a truly new idea, opposed to the traditional ethnocentric
conceit and social behaviour based on the exclusion of "others" and
"the different". It will be necessary to realise that among states
different ethnic, regional and linguistic identities exist, and that
the borders between them are everything but linear and definite.


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