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Expert in the Spotlight December: Elly Albers

For more than nine years Mercator's Expert in the Spotlight feature was in the capable hands of Mercator's information specialist Elly Albers. But all good things come to an end, and Elly will leave Mercator to retire next month. The Mercator team will sorely miss her and take over her many duties as best as possible. The final Expert in the Spotlight of December 2016 is about Elly herself and her work at Mercator Research Centre.

Read about Elly here

November 2016: new Regional Dossier published: Nenets, Khanty and Selkup

Nenets, Khanty, and Selkup are the native languages of the indigenous population in the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrug (district). The district is situated in Western Siberia, on the eastern side of the Ural Mountains in the Russian Federation. In the Russian Federation, the right to actively use one’s native language is protected under Article 26 of the Konstitutsia Rossiiskoi Federatsii (the Constitution of the Russian Federation)...

The Regional Dossier Nenets, Khanty and Selkup. The Nenets, Khanty and Selkup language in education in the Yamal Region in Russia has been compiled by Dr Roza Ivanovna Laptander (Candidate of Philological Science), expert in the Tundra Nenets language and Nenets speaking society, sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology and researcher at the Artic Centre at the University of Lapland and visiting researcher at the Artic Centre of the University of Groningen.

9, 10 December 2016, Leeuwarden (NL): Language documentation, teaching materials and didactics; an opportunity for small and endangered languages?

Mercator-SOAS-CIDLeS expert seminar.

This seminar will address the growing need for up-to-date teaching materials and methods for small and endangered languages in the context of new developments in language documentation technology. All over the world, efforts to record, describe and document endangered languages are carried out. However, for true protection of these languages, mere documentation is not enough. Education is key, and a crucial question then is how language documentation can be streamlined with efforts in teaching material development. 

Register for this seminar here.
View the program of the seminar here.


25, 26 November: Symposium Documentation, Standardization and Teaching of Endangered Languages in Northern Eurasia.

Symposium organised by the Foundation for Endangered Languages, and made possible by the joint efforts of Russian and Dutch institutions, including Mercator Research Centre. Purpose of the symposium is to set up a Regional Interest Group and bring together knowledge about the arctic and subarctic regions between Fennoscandia and the Pacific Rim. Contributions are welcome until July 31th and may concern endangered language documentation, preservation and revitalization in the northern Eurasian area. More information may be found here.


Expert in the Spotlight October-November 2016: Maaike Verrips, Anna de Graaf and Fleur Verbiest of De Taalstudio

Photo of Anna de Graaf

Maaike Verrips, Anna de Graaf and Fleur Verbiest form an ever expanding interactive platform for everyone dealing with multilingual children, The platform is called



September 2016: new Regional Dossier published: Manx Gaelic in the Isle of Man

Manx Gaelic is closely related to the now extinct Gaelic speech of nearby East Ulster (Northern Ireland) and Galloway (South-western Scotland), both of which are visible from the Isle of Man and have had close, if not always amicable, contacts in historic times.

In 1765 the Act of Revestment was passed, giving much more control to the British Crown over the economy of the Isle of Man. This encouraged an expansion of the use of English on the Island. In 1974, the last native Manx speaker, Ned Maddrell, died, but by 1971 the decreasing speaker trend was reversed with 284 speakers recorded.

The Regional Dossier Manx Gaelic, The Manx Gaelic language in education in the Isle of Man was compiled by Fiona McArdle, Education Officer for Manx National Heritage until 2012, and Robert Teare, Department of Education and Children’s Manx Language Officer in the Ilse of Man.

11 November 2016, Ljouwert (NL): Symposium: the influence of migration on the position of minority languages

Organized by Mercator Research Centre (Fryske Akademy).
Time: 11 am to 5 pm.
Location: Fryske Akademy, Leeuwarden/Ljouwert (NL).

In light of the ongoing refugee crisis, the relation between immigration, migrant languages and regional and minority languages has become a hot topic, not least for those concerned with minority language education. In a symposium for experts and practitioners, Mercator wants to shed light on the effects of immigration on a minority language, such as Frisian. 

At the symposium, around five speakers, each an expert of multilingualism and surrounding issues, will give their own (international) perspective. After this, time will be made for the participants to discuss – possibly in groups – how the experts’ views can be ‘translated’ to the situation in Fryslân. Outcomes of the symposium will be put to paper and made publicly available.

View the conference program.
Interested in joining? Register here!

20-24 October 2016, Tbilisi (GE): International Conference on Endangered Languages

Organized by the Giorgi Akhvlediani Society for the History of Linguistics and Ivané Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University. The conference is organized under the auspices of CIPL, Comité International Permament des Linguistes.

Where: Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University
More information: Conference Website

September 1-3: The Xth International Conference on Third Language Acquisition and Multilingualism in Vienna.

Presentation given by Mercator.

Representing Mercator Research Centre was Cor van der Meer who presented on “English in Fryslân” in a symposium on “English in Europe”, together with colleagues from the University of the Basque Country Durk Gorter, Jasone Cenoz, Maria Pilar Safont and Elizabet Arocena. Mirjam Günther from the Fryske Akademy / University of Groningen talked about part of her PhD-study in a presentation called “Does balanced bilingualism influence third language acquisition”. 

Photo by Sandra Meyndt, Freiburg 2014

Expert in the Spotlight July-August 2016 Dr. Michael Rießler

Dr. Michael Rießler is a linguist working at the Department of Scandinavian Studies at Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, Germany. He holds an MA degree in Northern-European Studies from Humboldt University of Berlin, a PhD in General Linguistics from the University of Leipzig and is an Adjunct-Professor in Finno-Ugric/Uralic Studies at the University of Helsinki.

Michael Rießler will be the author of two Regional Dossiers to be published by Mercator Research Centre in 2016/2017:

  • Skolt Saami: The Skolt Saami language in  education in Finland
  • Komi: The Komi language in education in the Komi Republic in the Russian Federation.



July 2016: new Regional Dossier published: Irish in Ireland 2nd edition

The Regional Dossier Irish, the Irish language in education in the Republic of Ireland was compiled by Helen O Morchu.

June 23 and 24: Hitzargiak Gathering, LearnME White Paper presented

On June 23 and 24 the Hitzargiak Gathering in Hernani (Spain) was held. The gathering served to bring together organizations involved in promotion and revitalization of lesser-used languages, to showcase the work carried out within the framework of the Hitzargiak project, to generate knowledge, and to exchange experiences. Mercator Network colleagues Xavier Vila and Cor van der Meer were also present, and the LearnME White Paper was presented by Mr Vila to those gathered.

June 24: Delegation from Malta visits Fryslân

A delegation from Malta visited Fryslân and the Fryske Akademy. The delegates were Ms Rita Saliba and Ms Leanne Ellul, both active in the cultural and literary field in Valetta, Malta.

June 16, 2016: Lecture by Dr Tjeerd de Graaf at the Centre for Russian Studies of the University of Groningen

"The use of historical data for the study of the Siberian people and their languages".

Among other things, the information contained in the publication “Noord- en Oost Tartarije”, written by the 17th Century Mayor Nicolaas Witsen, was discussed, as well as the use of historical sound recordings.

June 15: Mercator at the MIME Stakeholder Forum meeting


MIME logo

June 15 2016, the MIME Project held its 2nd stakeholder Forum Meeting at the Universidade do Algarve. MIME Stakeholders met to discuss various education-related topics, such as to which extent MIME should focus on multilingual schools, and how language diversity might be maintained in Higher Education. Representing the Mercator Network, and the Fryske Akademy was Cor van der Meer.

June 10-12: LanOER at International Conference on Bilingualism in Education

Conference location: Bangor University, North Wales.

Talk: "Open Education in Minority Languages", by Marit Bijlsma.



6-8 June: SOILLSE Conference


In the second week of June, Mercator Research fellow Tjeerd de Graaf attended the international conference on Small Language Planning: Communities in Crisis and reported there on the status of Endangered Language Communities in Russia and the work of theFoundation for Siberian Cultures. The conference was organized by the Study Centre SOILLSE for the Gaelic language at the University of Edinburg. This took place in co-operation with the Foundation for Endangered Languages, on the occasion of its 20th anniversary as a charity.

May 26th: Mercator at NPLD meeting in Bilbao: two Mercator colleagues elected on the NPLD steering committee

On May 26th, the NPLD (Network to promote Linguistic Diversity) held a meeting to discuss NPLD strategy over the next years.

The main theme of this year’s General Conference was media and social media in minority languages. The Mercator White Paper on Linguistic Diversity was also brought to the attention of those gathered.

Every two years, the NPLD choses from its associate members new representatives for its steering commetittee. This year, among those elected, were Mercator colleagues Jarmo Lainio from Sweden, and Cor van der Meer from Frisia.

May 26th: Mercator at Bilbao conference on migration and linguistic minorities

On May 26th, the conference Migrations and cultural and linguistic minorities in Europe was held in Bilbao. The aims of the conference were to study the impact of migratory flows on the cultural and linguistic diversity in Europe, propose policies for proper management migration and integration, and present success stories and best practices.

Speakers from Wales, Catalonia, and Basque Country were present, and also Mercator colleague Cor van der Meer, who addressed the issue from an educational perspective.

May 3: Mercator presents Papiamentu in Perspectief

The report Papiamentu in Perspectief, was presented by Mercator Research Centre team members Richt Sterk and Cor van der Meer to Christopher Frans, advisor to Bonaire representative Dirksz. Dirksz himself was unable to attend, due to the political situation on Bonaire.

The report Papiamentu in Perspectief appraises an earlier report by the TaalUnie and offers a different perspective on the position of the Dutch language in education on Bonaire. The original TaalUnie report offered a set of recommendations to stimulate Dutch on Bonaire but met with criticism for being too Dutch minded. Therefore the province of Fryslân commissioned Mercator to critically analyse the report of the Taalunie. In November 2015 Dirksz already visited Fryslân and the provincial government. The deputy of language and culture, Sietske Poepjes, felt connected to Bonaire because of the similar language situation in Fryslân and Bonaire. 

Download Papiamentu in Perspectief, een kritische analyse van het rapport Nederlands op z'n BESt.

Expert in the Spotlight in May: Robert Teare

The Expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-on-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 / Area of focus

Since 2012 Robert Teare is Manx Language Officer in the Department of Education and Children at the Isle of Man Government, Isle of Man.

He also is the author of the Regional Dossier Manx, The Manx language in education in the United Kingdom which will be published in 2016.

"We are currently working on a new, sixty lesson, interactive course for learners. There will be a workbook to go with the course and we expect that the content will help adult learners as well as school pupils."


April: Regional Dossier Galician in Spain 2nd edition published

Mercator has published a new Regional Dossier: the second edition of Galician in Spain.

This second edition has been compiled by Xosé-Henrique Costas (Universidade de Vigo) and Andrea Expósito-Loureiro.

March 23 - Utrecht University students visit Frisia and Mercator

Students following the Master’s programme ‘Language, Humanities, and Society’ at the University of Utrecht came to Fryslân. They visited several organisations - the Fryske Akademy, Mercator European Research Centre, Afûk, Cedin and the Province of Fryslân - to learn more about applying language policy in practice. All parties involved look back at a highly successful visit, and have high hopes of repeating the excursion next year.

March: Mercator publishes two new Regional Dossiers

2 New Regional Dossiers have been published: the second edition of Ladin in Italy, and the second edition of Sorbian in Germany.

The second edition of Ladin in Italy has been compiled in 2015 by Roland Verra, who was our Expert in the Spotlight of February 2016.

The second edition of Sorbian in Germany has been compiled in 2015 by Dr. Beate Brĕzan (head of the WITAJ-Sprachzentrum) and Měto Nowak (personal assistant at the Brandenburg Ministry of Sciences, Research and Cultural Affairs).

February 19, 20: Member of European Parliament Nils Torvalds visits Fryslan.

Friday 19 Nils Torvald will visit the Fryske Akademy and the province It Bild, where the Bildts application for the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages will be presented. On Saturday he will come to the premiere of “Amama”, presented by the EBLT.

February 20, 21: EBLT presents: the Basque movie “Amama”.

To celebrate Mother Language Day, the Europeesk Buro foar Lytse Talen (EBLT), has arranged for the Basque movie “Amama” to play at Slieker FIlm, Ljouwert. Prior to the viewing, Capital of Culture 2016 Donostia-San Sebastián 2016 will present their joint plans with the AFUK. In addition Tresoar, LWD-Fryslan 2018 and Mercator Research Centre will give presentations.

For more information visit the EBLT website

Expert in the Spotlight in February: Roland Verra

The Expert in the Spotlight feature gives you the chance to interact one-on-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 / Area of focus

Roland Verra is director of the Ladin School Office in Bolzano, Italy. He also is the author of the Regional Dossier Ladin: The Ladin language in education in Italy. This Regional Dossier has been revised by Roland Verra and will soon be published by Mercator Research Centre (approximately February/March 2016).

"The major challenge in my field of work is safeguarding the position and chances of Ladin language in a multilingual school system, where German and Italian (and also English) are perceived as more important."