See page 90 for text.
Morning, everyone! How are you?
Fine thanks, Joe.
Yeah, fine, Joe. Have you managed to do much research on our minority languages project?
Well, Julia, I’ve been having some trouble finding information about the number of Cornish
speakers in the UK. The records at the Office of National Statistics and the Cornish Language
Council say different things, so I’m not sure who to believe.
Hm. Susan, have you got any information about this?
I was looking on the government’s minority languages website, and it says that nearly half the
minority language speakers in the UK are speakers of Welsh.
Are you sure it’s nearly half? I thought the number of Gaelic and Welsh speakers was more or
less the same.
It used to be, when Gaelic was a compulsory subject in schools. But nowadays there are fewer
speakers of Gaelic compared to Welsh. And apparently, with Cornish it’s difficult to know
the exact percentage of the population who speak it because most people only speak it to
intermediate level; very few people are fluent speakers.
I suppose that’s why the statistics are different. Well, I think we should go with the more
conservative estimate based on the number of fluent speakers.
I think you’re right, which means that Cornish isn’t spoken by nearly as many people as the other
Yes, I think that ’s right too. Based on fluent speakers, that means that Welsh is the most widely
spoken and the numbers of Irish and Gaelic speakers are more or less the same.
Right, Harry, Rob, shall we get started on this presentation for European Studies?
Well, how about if I start by talking about the central regions of Spain, where most people speak
Good idea. It ’s important we make it clear that the majority of the population use Spanish as
their main language. Then I can introduce the Galician accent of the north-west.
But isn’t Galician more of a dialect?
Oh yes, you’re right.
We’ve got to get our terminology correct because Spain is complicated in terms of languages and
dialects and accents. How about we then move across to the north-east, and I give details on the
Basque language and how it’s different from Spanish.
That seems logical, Stephanie. Do you also want to mention the other language in the north-east? It’s
Catalan, isn’t it?
Yes. In fact we should say it ‘s the official language of the region to show how important it is.
So, what am I going to present?
We need to include something about accents and speaking styles, don’t we?
Of course. I could explain the difficulties of understanding the accent in the south due to the fact that
the locals speak quickly.
Excellent! Well I think that covers everything. Shall we meet tomorrow to practise our presentation?
So, Natalie, Louise, how are you doing with your report on encouraging people to speak local languages?
Fine thanks, Dr Philips. It’s been really interesting.
We’ve found lots of information which we’ve collated for our report.
Good. What are you going to focus on?
Well, many schools and colleges are doing good work promoting local languages both as
qualifications and in terms of after-school clubs.
And then there’s the rise in popularity of minority language music, which seems to be driven by
tourism. Tourists who are exposed to songs in indigenous languages become interested in learning
OK. Now you need to be careful with these topics. They are fascinating, but you need to look at the
influences which drive language learning. Education doesn’t leave people much choice, and music
isn’t a strong enough factor.
Do you have any suggestions for us?
Well, what did we talk about in last week ’s seminar? Can you remember any of the real push factors?
Do you mean things like communication and relationships between companies and their workers?
It’s much more powerful than music, don’t you think?
Yes, I see what you mean. So I suppose our other idea isn’t very strong, either. We also thought about
hobby groups, but I’m beginning to think they’re less significant.
, there aren’t sufficient hobbyist groups to make a real difference to local language learning. But,
think about something else which is similar but reaches a much larger proportion of the population
of a country or community.
Ah! Like online discussion groups? I remember in the lecture you talked about how the Internet is
fuelling the increase in local languages through the world languages project.
This is more appropriate for your report because we can actually measure the amount of
correspondence in each language and chart increases and decreases over time, which makes it a
more rigorous form of analysis.
Of course. So we should definitely include that in our report.
It’s becoming clearer now. We need to write about the larger factors involving commerce and online
communication, where we can record language usage.
I think it’s better than looking at anecdotal information.
Thanks, Dr Philips.
So, we need to get this field trip sorted out as soon as possible, don’t we?
Yes. Let’s get started. James, have you worked out which two countries we should travel to?
, I thought we could go to the USA and Mexico because that’s where the populations of most
native languages are concentrated. But then I found out that the three languages we’re most
interested in are more widely spoken in Canada than Mexico so I think we should go there instead.
OK … Anna, weren’t you going to think about our research focus?
, and I think I’ve found two areas that would work well. Firstly, use of the three languages,
Na-Dene, Salishan, and Algic among the younger generation – people up to the age of twenty-five.
I found out that although there are many older speakers of Algic, it’s used much less by the young,in
fact young people under the age of twenty-five use both Na-Dene and Salishan more than Alqic.
That’s interesting. That means that native language use isn’t really being affected by the older
generations any more.
So, what’s the other focus area then, Anna?
Well, it would be good to try to find out what affects changes in native language speaker populations.
You mean things like family life, and the influence of popular culture or tourism?
Yes, areas like that, but not tourism or culture because they’re too general. I think we should look at
whether family has an impact in terms of passing on native language use. And possibly the effects of
government language policy too.
Government figures can be deceptive, but they’re still worth looking at. Maybe we should also focus
on something like job creation and work statistics and the number of people who leave the USA to
live in another country instead.
Mm, yes. 1 think emigration would be as useful as language policy.
OK, then. Let ’s focus on those three as well as what happens in families.
Well, shall we look at our route now? Most of the speakers we re looking for are in California, so
we could start there. We can spend two weeks travelling around and meeting people to get some
background information and then start collecting data.
What do you think about beginning in the south-west corner of the state and visiting the Barona
That’s a good idea. We’ll be able to get some interviews with native language speakers there. And
then we could go to the eastern mountains to visit the local education authority of North County –
they’ve got a native language project for school children.
Why there? Wouldn’t it be better to go to the education department in San Diego? It’s bigger.
But they focus more on Spanish and English bilingualism and less on native languages.
In that case, the North County Education Authority will be more valuable so let’s do that. After that,
we could head south-east to the town of Bishop. There’s a company there called Co-Tech, which
employs only bilingual speakers. I’ve emailed the managing director, who’s happy to give us an
That’s great work, James! It sounds like something we should definitely do.
Right, well I’ll email her to confirm.
Also, we should go to Sun City. It’s this bilingual town in the south central area of the region. They
have a policy whereby all signs in the town must be in the local language as well as English. We can
take photos of these signs – they’ll make good visuals for our report.
But won’t that be intrusive for the people who live there?
No, they’re used to it – the village is used as a model for other communities who’d like to do the
In that case, let ’s add it to the itinerary.