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Eight global experts in debate about language

04 September 2013

Multilingualism is one of the greatest challenges of this century. Globalization and digitization continually raise questions about how people and cultures can communicate with each other. Do we value linguistic and cultural diversity, or are we aiming for unity for the sake of ‘understandability’? Reasons enough for the University of Groningen to start a Bachelor’s degree programme in Minorities & Multilingualism and an international Master’s programme in Multilingualism. To mark the start, on 12 and 13 September the University of Groningen and the University Campus Fryslân, in cooperation with a large number of other partners, are organizing a conference and a festival on the theme of multilingualism.

Both of the programmes mentioned above pay particular attention to the Frisian language and the province of Fryslân. Fryslân is the only official multilingual province in the Netherlands, and it also structurally and actively supports research on multilingualism. In recent years, Fryslân has gradually grown into the centre for multilingualism in the Netherlands.

Master’s in Multilingualism

One of the results is the new international Master’s programme in Multilingualism in Leeuwarden, offered by the University of Groningen, the NHL University of Applied Sciences and University Campus Fryslân. To mark the start of this programme, on 12 and 13 September the University of Groningen and the University Campus Fryslân, in cooperation with a large number of other partners, are organizing a conference and a festival on the theme of multilingualism.

Global experts on language and languages

One of the most significant parts of the programme is the Key Debates. Eight experts in the field of multilingualism will be debating with each other in four public sessions. The themes to be covered are not only of interest to linguists, they can also have wide-ranging implications for politicians and the general public.

Programme for The Key Debates, Schouwburg De Harmonie, Leeuwarden

Thursday 12 September , 4 - 5 p.m.
‘Language and Thought’ ­ Does our language govern how we think?, Geoffrey Pullum (University of Edinburgh) vs Guillaume Thierry (University of Bangor)

Thursday 12 September , 5 - 6 p.m.
‘Language innateness’ ­ Is language innate or learned?, Dan Everett (Bentley University) vs Ian Roberts (University of Cambridge)

Friday 13 September , 4.30 - 5.30 p.m.
‘Language Shift’ ­ Can dying languages be reanimated?, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (Ǻbo Akademi) vs Sue Wright (University of Portsmouth)

Friday 13 September , 5.30 - 6.30 p.m.
‘Language Planning’ - Is there any point in language politics?, Abram de Swaan (University of Amsterdam) vs Robert Philipson (Copenhagen Business School)

Additionally, Multilingual Fryslân: The Festival will be held on Thursday evening 12 September. There will be music, film, theatre, installation art and a guided tour of Tresoar, Frisian Historical and Literary Centre. The festival is free and open to everyone.

Further information

- Dr Nanna Haug Hilton, n.h.hilton@rug.nl
- Further information can also be found at www.rug.nl/masters/multilingualism

Last modified:10 January 2018 4.26 p.m.
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