The term minority language emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century. Using the term is not without controversy, as it means the language is always defined in the context of a majority language, and in terms of power issues. The speakers of the language differentiate from the majority group in language and culture, and although most frequently demographic and power inferiority combine, the minority group isn’t necessarily inferior in number. The Council of Europe uses the term “regional or minority language”, in the Charter (1992) to protect these languages, as a result of long negotiations that show that the terms used may vary according to geopolitical contexts and the different standards applied to classify a language as such. As a result, there is no scientific consensus on the use of the term. In most European countries, the languages are defined by legal documents affording some form of official support.

Why is it important?

Languages are immensely enriching. Besides a means of communication, it also tends to be a defining element of a person’s identity and their place in society. Secondly, coming into contact with other languages, and learning about them, fosters cultural empathy, and enhances cognitive abilities. Language learners of a ‘minority’ language exhibit a deeper appreciation for diversity and commitment to preserving the linguistic heritage. Partnering up Want to partner up in implementing the Lingotell method? Lots of languages have passionate representatives willing to help you along. The CLARIN research infrastructure for language is a nice example for an overview of contributing institutes in different countries.

Languages of the project

The Lingotell consortium consists of partners from Norway, the Netherlands, and Hungary, covering South Sámi languages, Frisian, and Roma languages. To learn more about these languages, scroll down.


Languages and cultural heritage

South Sámi is spoken in Norway and Sweden. Sámi culture traditionally uses joiking to pass on knowledge and stories.

Frisian is a regional minority language spoken in The Netherlands. Frisians know a long history of folk tales and literature.

Hungary is home to Roma groups with different languages. Ballads and tales are very existential and important in the life of the Roma.

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