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Expert of the Month February 2008: Albina Neçak Lük

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:

Albina Neçak Lük is specialist on interethnic relations and bilingualism at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is Head of the Department of Comparative and General Linguistics.

She also will be the author of one of Mercator’s Regional Dossiers:
Hungarian: The Hungarian language in education in Slovenia (due to be published in the first part of 2008)

If you have any questions on this months topics, Ask Albina!

photographer: Matjaž Rebolj



Face to face with Albina Neçak Lük

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

Minority issue as a research topic is at hand in Prekmurje, a border region of Slovenia, where I come from. People of different languages, Slovene, Hungarian, German, Romani, Yiddish, live in close contact for centuries, there. After graduating in English and French, my research on bilingualism and interethnic relations began at the Institute for Ethnic Studies in Ljubljana. Ph.D. at the University of Ljubljana - Faculty of Arts in sociology of language with the thesis "Social Aspects of Bilingualism in the Ethnically Mixed Region of Prekmurje”. The minority languages´ status and use in different social domains (education, courts, administration, topography, etc.) are the constant agenda of my research and I strive to develop sensitivity of my students for the language contact issues, and dilemmas of non-dominant languages in this framework, during my applied linguistics lectures.

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

I am interested in the underlying social and socio-psychological factors that regulate language maintenance, shift and eventual revitalisation. In my opinion (none) presence of a minority language in public communication and participation of a minority in public life reflects the nature of interethnic relations in a country or region. Therefore, it is the interaction between a minority and a majority that attracts my attention. In case of Prekmurje, for instance, it is functional bilingualism of the residents, irrespective of the L1 of the individual that plays an important role in the process of the Hungarian language maintenance and promotion. However, it was the action-research, an innovation into the L1 and L2 language teaching and learning in the bilingual Slovene-Hungarian school, which brought me most pleasure and satisfaction.

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

A longitudinal comparative interdisciplinary research on the interethnic relations in the Slovenian ethnic area that I conceived in the 90ties is still in course. An investigation into the trans-generational language continuity in bilingual regions on both sides of the Slovene border with Austria, Hungary and Italy, i.e. research into the transfer of a minority language to younger generations is coming to an end. A comparative method is also used in a project on the efficiency of bilingual education models (the Italian and the bilingual, Slovene-Hungarian) operating in Slovenia. Evaluation of the REI project “Integration of Roma Children into Mainstream Education in Slovenia” offering an insight into the attitudes towards the Romani language and its codification was an interesting experience, too.

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

I would like to point to the Institute for Ethnic Studies, the oldest research institution in minority and ethnic studies in Europe with rich documentation and library. Its history goes back to 1925, while most of the actual important Slovene authors and research on minority issues is presented on its website

Official information on the Slovenian minority policy is provided by the Office for Nationalities, and by the National Assembly’s Committee for Slovenes in the neighbouring countries.

Besides this, an overview of the language policy is given in my booklet Language education policy in Slovenia (Ljubljana: Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, 2003.) and my article Language policy and language planning issues in Slovenia. (In: Bugarski, R., Hawkesworth, C. (eds.) Language in the former Yugoslav lands. Bloomington (Ind.), 2004, str.165-183.).

Area of focus:

Albina Neçak Lük is specialist on interethnic relations and bilingualism at the University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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

Featured topic:

Our focus this month lies on interethnic relation and bilingualism.

Further reading:

Institute for Ethnic Studies, Ljubljana
University of Ljubljana