The New Speakers Blog

Professor at Heriot-Watt University and Chair of EU COST Action New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe

Bernie O’Rourke is Professor in Spanish and Linguistics at Heriot-Watt University. Her research focuses on the role of language in the construction of social difference and social inequality. Drawing on theoretical frameworks and concepts in sociolinguistics and the sociology of language, she examines these processes as they unfold in minority language contexts with a particular focus on the Irish and Galician cases. She is Chair of the COST Action New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges.

Ag tacú le ‘nuachainteoirí’

(Joint post with John Walsh)

John Walsh and I are organizing a stakeholder event on Friday 14th October in Dublin. The meeting aims to provide an opportunity for discussion to groups that are promoting Irish outside the Gaeltacht and who have an interest in the structures that were created under the Gaeltacht Act and that are pertinent to new speakers. To that end we have invited representations of Irish Language Networks and groups interested in applying for status as Gaeltacht Service Towns to meet and identify and discuss the challenges and opportunities associated with this initiative.

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The 'new speaker' label

The 'new speaker' label

The ‘new speaker’ label focuses on the experience of multilingual individuals who adopt and use a language of which they are not native speakers. It is a relatively recent construct.

The term originated in minority language sociolinguistics but has now come to be used in critical sociolinguistics more generally to engage with debates around ‘nativeness’.

In the context of minority languages and revitalization projects such as BasqueBretonCatalan, CorsicanGalician,Irish, ManxOccitan, etc., this discussion has been more recent. In the past, the focus was to a large extent concerned with native speaker communities.

The new speaker category emerged in the context of minority language research and discussions amongst a small group of European-based researchers concerned with overlapping issues of legitimacy, linguistic authority and language ownership in post-revitalization situations, specifically in the context of Catalan and comparative work on Galician and Irish.

The specific use of the term ‘new speaker’ in fact drew inspiration from the Galician category of neofalante (literally neo or new speaker).

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News from our short-term scientific missions

News from our short-term scientific missions

EU programs of COoperation for Science and Technology (COST) strive to support European scientists in their networking activities.

Pursuing this aim, COST Actions include special programs called ‘Short-Term Scientific Missions’ (STSMs). These short-term missions allow researchers to learn from an institution based in another country of the COST network - a mechanism of particular interest to early career researchers.

Over the course of 2014 many of our early career researchers embarked on these missions to a variety of research centres in different parts of Europe. These consisted of 5 to 14 days trips where researchers engaged with others about their research, developed ideas for new research projects and started developing ideas for joint articles with their hosts.

A year later, we are starting to collect feedback and have asked these researchers to share their experiences here with you.

Keep an eye out for these over the coming weeks.

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Welcome to the New Speaker blog

Welcome to the New Speaker blog

Here you will find news about the New Speaker Network, key events that will take place, new research developments, and our reflections about what it means to be a new speaker in a multilingual Europe.

As you will see from our Events page we have had a busy first year since the kick-off-meeting in Brussels in October 2013. We have lots planned for the coming year, so watch this space!

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