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Expert of the Month January 2008: Alastair Walker


The expert of the Month feature gives you the chance to interact one-in-one with our Ask the expert-section. The feature also provides interesting and insightful comments regarding the subjects mentioned above, in-depth content and exclusive Q and A’s.

Featured expert:

Alastair Walker specialises in lexicography, dialectology and multilingualism with reference to North Frisian and North Frisia in the Department of Frisian Studies at Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany and also works in the North Frisian Dictionary Centre at the same university.

He also is the author of one of Mercator’s Regional Dossiers:
North Frisian: The North Frisian language in education in Germany.


If you have any questions on this months topics: Ask Alastair!

photographer: Dirk Heinz



Face to face with Alastair Walker

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages / education / multilingualism?

I have been working with the North Frisian language at the University of Kiel (Germany) for many years, specialising in dialectology, lexicography and multilingualism, involving much field work. I have also always taken a keen interest in Frisian in education and in minority- language politics, which gradually spread to encompass Europe generally. These interests are reflected in my teaching in the Department of Frisian Studies, often taking a European perspective.

My activities in Europe have included participation in the Council of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL), the organisation of a conference "Linguistic Diversity and Democracy in Germany" in conjunction with EBLUL and the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin in 2001, the co-founding of a working group "Minorities around the Baltic Sea" in Uppsala in 2004, and helping the European Commission organise a conference in Brussels in 2006 on "Regional and Minority Languages in Education Systems". 


What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

There are many challenges, e.g.:

            1) Developing methods to allow the democratic promotion of linguistic diversity,

            2) The documentation of linguistic diversity in the rapidly changing world, and

            3) The reception and dissemination of scientific knowledge and insights in those           

            language communities one works with.  


What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

I am working on a model for teacher training in a minority language context.

Are there any important references such as articles, links etc. you would like to mention?

1) Horst Haider Munske et al (eds.), Handbuch des Friesischen / Handbook of Frisian Studies. - Tübingen: Max Niemeyer Verlag, 2001.

2) European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, Komitee für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland (ed.), Sprachenvielfalt und Demokratie in Deutschland. Brüssel, 2002.

3) Sia Spiliopoulou Akermark et al (eds.), International Obligations and National Debates: Minorities around the Baltic Sea. Mariehamn: The Aland Islands Peace Institute 2006.


Area of focus:

Alastair Walker is specialized on lexicography, dialectology and multilingualism at the Department of Frisian Studies of the Christian-Albrechts-University in Kiel, Germany and also working at the North Frisian Dictionary Centre at the same university.

Do you have any questions on these topics? Ask Alastair!


Featured topic:

Our focus this month is North Frisian in Germany


Further reading:

Regional Dossier North Frisian in Germany

Department of Frisian Studies / North Frisian Dictionary Centre / Christian-Albrechts-University