The project DILING (Dimensions of Linguistic Otherness: Prospects and Maintenance and Revitalization of Minority Languages) of the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been supported within the SSA (Specific Support Action) programme of the European Union.

A general goal of the SSA program is to support supplementary actions not involving actual research, fieldwork or the like, but actions like organising conferences and workshops, reviewing some areas of the literature with the aim of surveying the state of the art in some field, laying the grounds for a future EU-funded cooperation, and putting forward policy recommendations.
We have planned to carry out all these activities within the framework of this project with eight participating countries (the Czech Republic, Moldavia, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Hungary). Our primary intention is to foster a multi-disciplinary approach to linguistic minorities in the region, and at the same time to try to involve various groups of stakeholders beyond the research community. Our medium-term ambitions for the period after this project ends include putting together a larger EU-funded research-oriented cooperation concerning linguistic minorities in the region.

This project hopes to provide a frame for the efficient transfer of knowledge accumulated about linguistic minorities by minority research on the national level between the participating, relatively isolated research groups of the region, as well as for establishing lasting professional links between research groups the countries involved. We would also like to propagate good research practices in the region, contributing to the integration of its relevant research activities into a common European Research Area, and to disseminate results to researchers and stake-holders in general both in a scientific and in a more practical form.
Linguistic minorities within the region to be targeted by our project are relatively under-studied; there is a limited amount of reliable comparative data on minority languages. Researchers in the field characteristically work on different projects in isolated groups with scarce links and cooperation. Effective policy action and implementation regionally and at the European level necessitates in-depth analyses of the actual social and linguistic situation of the minorities, as well as unique characteristics of the region itself.

In our proposed project we focus on both research and policy dimensions of language shift (linguistic assimilation) vis--vis language maintenance and revitalisation processes, making preparations for creating a multidisciplinary scientific and methodological framework for future research.

We must face that there is no unified model for the study of language shift and maintenance. There are even fewer approaches that are aimed at describing social and linguistic change in a unified framework that could be generalised to dissimilar contact situations.

Recognising the limitations in previous research practices detailed above, by pulling together experts from different countries and of expertise in different sets of linguistic minorities in the region, our project is designed to be comparative and multidisciplinary in nature from the very beginning to its last stages, preparing a common regional research agenda.

One major component of the project is to provide a systematic review of the state of linguistic minorities of the region, countries which are simultaneously characterised by a post-communist political, sociological and cultural heritage and by an immense and ongoing political-ideological restructuring due to a new, expanding Europe.

One particular objective is to organise a conference to transfer knowledge about the state of the art in linguistic minorities research in general, as well as knowledge about linguistic minorities in each one of the participating countries in particular (including results of language shift/maintenance research on these groups). The conference will on the one hand include surveys of the state-of-the art in various fields of research pertaining to linguistic minorities, delivered by invited international leading experts, and on the other hand it will consist of presentations of a country review for each participating country.
A second objective is to disseminate the results of reviewing the state of the art in research, the results of the country reviews, as well as further, practical guides prepared for dissemination. That means publishing an English language volume including reviews of the state of the art in research, the country review studies, a comparative analysis of the region based on the country studies and an annotated bibliography. We also plan to put together a practical, clear and easy-to-read booklet for each country, written in the respective national languages, which will incorporate a guide that introduces notions and basic scientific views related to linguistic minorities with the intention of disspelling common misbeliefs), the country studies re-written in a relatively non-technical language for the booklets and a practical guide to legal matters related to linguistic minorities.

We aim to organise two targeted workshops as well, in order to study existing good research practices and set up common research agendas and research strategies at the national level, as well as assess policies and policy implementation, prepare policy recommendations, and develop research agendas and strategies at the regional level, attempting to involve various stake-holder groups.
A website is to be launched in order to facilitate exchange of information. The website will contain the actual project results, arising questions and information about participants.


 
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