The Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (HAS), the Research Institute for Ethnic and National Minority Studies HAS, and the Faculty of Political and Legal Sciences of the University of Pécs are pleased to announce the 11th International Conference on Minority Languages (ICML 11) to be held on 5-6 July 2007 in Pécs, Hungary.
Numerous minority communities around the world and even in Europe are continuously under economic, social, ideological, political, cultural, religious, military etc. pressure to integrate into the dominant society which often involves the loss of their native languages and often their ethnic identities.
Preserving one's native language is not only a fundamental linguistic human right, but, simultaneously, is necessary to perceive and negotiate one's cultural identity and is a key to understanding and appreciating the history, knowledge, ideas, and values of the community. Maintaining and elaborating the native language is the basis of normal cognitive and socio-emotional development, and a dynamic tool people can use to interact in a meaningful and confident way with the rest of society as equal citizens.
Questions about the legal protection of regional and minority languages have regularly appeared on the European agenda: for many years various political and civic actions have centred upon the legal regulations applying to minorities. One of the basic principles of the European Union is to support cultural, linguistic and regional diversity, which in principle includes the special identities of national minorities.
Nevertheless, despite the eventual positive legal developments administrative and political barriers in everyday practice often render the public use of minority languages difficult.
Furthermore, legal instruments and programmes alone are not sufficient to deal effectively with problems of minority languages: they cannot guarantee on their own that minority languages will be preserved. The accession of the new Central and Eastern European Member States opened up new prospects, at the same time creating new problems for the enlarged EU with regard to protection and maintenance of minority languages.
The communist regimes and their collapse in the late 1980s created rather unique political and linguistic arrangements in the East-Central-Eastern European region. Nonetheless, the legal status, territorial distribution, the existence of a standard variant on the one hand, and the use of regional or minority languages in institutional domains, in education and in media on the other varies considerably from country to country. Impacts of the European enlargement, new social-economic order in East-Central and Eastern Europe that are restructuring the former relationships at regional and at European level, together with economic, technological and cultural forces of globalization have created a need for a re-evaluation of the theoretical questions and research methodologies that guide investigations of minority languages and their communities.