Promoting Minority Languages: Evaluating the Work of Regional Governments
A discussion comparing and evaluating the language strategies of regional governments across Europe and beyond.
Organized as part of the GWLAD festival held to mark the 20th anniversary of the National Assembly for Wales.
11:00 12:30, 28 September 2019, Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay
Speakers: Alun Davies AM (former Minister for Lifelong Learning and Welsh Language), Graham Fraser (former Official Languages Commissioner for Canada), Professor Colin Williams (Cardiff University), Patxi Baztarrika (former Deputy Minister for Language Policy, Autonomous Government of the Basque Country) and Dr Elin Royles (Aberystwyth University).
With the establishment of the National Assembly, a new period of policy activity was launched, aimed at raising the prospects of the Welsh language in a more coherent manner. Central to this was the trinity of national language strategies adopted by the Welsh Government: firstly, Iaith Pawb (2003), then A Living Language: A Language for Living (2012), and most recently, Cymraeg 2050 (2017), with its ambitious target of trying to raise the number of Welsh speakers to 1 million by 2050. Overall, it was expected that these strategies would provide a common framework for all initiatives and other schemes for supporting the Welsh language.
However, it wasn’t only in Wales that emphasis was placed on official language strategies as a key element in the effort to raise the prospects of minority languages. Over the past two decades, governments in places such as Catalonia, the Basque Country, Galicia, Scotland, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand have followed similar paths.
The aim of this panel discussion was to compare recent experiences of promoting minority languages in some of these places, and specifically, consider the contribution of the official language strategies adopted by the relevant governments. What were the objectives of these strategies? How have they been utilised? How effective are they? What can Wales learn from other examples? And in what ways has Wales led the way since devolution?