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The 26th of September 2008 is the annual European Language Day, and this year is the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, which among many other good things recognises "regional or minority languages as an expression of cultural wealth".

So, when and where better to hold the Foundation for Endangered Languages' annual conference, than in Fryslân? It's all happening from September 24 to 27 in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, at the Fryske Akademy, (who incidentally sponsor a Frisian spell-checker for MS Office - yes!)

The abstracts are on the web [.pdf]

They present a diversity of situations: endangered languages in Europe (Frisian itself of course, Cimbrian and Friulian in Italy, Gaelic on Skye, Guernesiais on Guernsey, Basque), in large rich countries (native Canadian and American languages), in small countries (Amazigh in Morocco), in very small rich countries (Iban in Brunei), in large countries that are rapidly becoming rich (in Yunnan, China), in the Russian Federation (Latgalian, Nivkh, Uilta, Ainu, Buryat, Evenk, Koryak, Itelman, Nenets, Saami, Khanty, Mansi, Selkup, Nenets, Komi-Zyrjans, Siberian Tatars) and other countries of the former USSR (Pamiri in Tajikstan), as well as immigrant languages (Malayalam in Malaysia, Japanese and Korean on Sakhalin Island, Yiddish), and mixed languages (Kormakiti Maronite Arabic on Cyprus).

And there's also a diversity of ideas about teaching, revitalisation, documentation, sociolinguistics, language rights, and the relationship of each to the others .... Every time we start to gloom about what point there is for speakers in documenting a language is, consider Hashem Ahmadzadeh's problem in teaching Kurdish at the new Centre for Kurdish Studies (University of Exeter, UK) - with dialect differences, and without a plethora of text books, dictionaries and grammars.

We don't have to miss out - FEL publishes its proceedings. Back orders are available - there's information in the newsletter [.pdf] on prices, as well as on how to join FEL.

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The Transient Building, symbolising the impermanence of language, houses both the Linguistics Department at Sydney University and PARADISEC, a digital archive for endangered Pacific languages and music.

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