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Unit information: Regional and Minority Languages in 2015/16

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Unit name Regional and Minority Languages
Unit code MODLM0018
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. James Hawkey
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit aims to introduce and develop an understanding of sociolinguistic approaches to regional and minority language situations worldwide. We will be addressing a number of theoretical and practical concerns faced by speakers of regional and minority linguistic varieties, and will focus on a number of different speech communities. Within this unit, specific attention will be paid to topics including (but not limited to):

  • Supra-national concerns: The role played by supra-national institutions and their legislation (such as the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages).
  • National concerns: The specific ways in which state-level governmental policy can impact on the support accorded to a regional or minority variety.
  • Speaker attitudes: A focus on speaker-level language attitudes and what may motivate regional sentiment or linguistic insecurity.

This will allow students to undertake an original, analytical study project which compares multiple, seemingly distinct scenarios, in an attempt to underline any (theoretical and/or practical) commonalities and differences between them.

Intended Learning Outcomes

a) Students will gain familiarity with the discipline of sociolinguistics, which offers a complete set of tools that can be used to analyse contemporary society and culture. This complements other theoretical approaches that students will acquire in other units.

b) Students will gain in-depth knowledge of several regional and minority language situations worldwide.

c) Students will develop their own analytical skills through the comparative analysis of different speech situations worldwide.

d) Students will be able to apply their new theoretical knowledge to different linguistic situations, and will be able to perform independent, original, critical analyses.

e) Students will be skilled in the selection and synthesis of relevant material.

f) Students will be able to analyse and evaluate a wide range of materials at a high level.

Teaching Information

Seminar-style teaching: discussions based around a series of theoretical and community-specific texts, set each week. This will allow students to develop their own analysis and receive feedback from staff and fellow students on their ideas.

Assessment Information

1 x 5,000 word essay (testing ILOs a-f).

Reading and References

Extra, G. and Gorter, D. (eds, 2001). The other languages of Europe: Demographic, sociolinguistic and educational perspectives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Judge, A. (2007). Linguistic policies and the survival of regional languages in France and Britain. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

May, S. (2012). Language and minority rights: Ethnicity, nationalism and the politics of language (second edition). Abingdon: Routledge.