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.

Symposium on “Educational Language Policy for Integration and Peace”

We are happy to announce a one-day symposium which will take the New Speaker concept to Latvia: It will take place on April 10 in the European Union House in Riga.

In order to familiarize the readers of this blog with the situation of languages and language policies in Latvia, we would hereby like to provide a short background of languages and society in which the symposium will take place.

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My research in a nutshell #2

Natasha Ringblom is a member of the COST Action New Speakers network, from Stockholm University.

Here, she gives us a brief overview of her research on new speakers:

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My research in a nutshell #1

Maite Puigdevall Serralvo is a member of the COST Action New Speakers network, from Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

Here, she gives us a brief overview of her research on new speakers:

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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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