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Celebrating the research of Professor Colin Williams

27 October 2022

Picture of Colin Williams, male, grey hair and beard

A book was launched to celebrate the outstanding contributions of Honorary Professor Colin Williams to the field of Language Policy and Planning.

'Language, Policy and Territory: A Festschrift for Colin H Williams' is comprised of chapters on theorising language policy and regulation as well as challenges to language policy in Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Canada and Catalonia. It is in said places where Professor Williams has been active since the early 1970s.

18 chapters, written by students, colleagues and friends of the academic, were chosen due to their reflection of Professor Williams’s various research interests. These include the role of geography, civil society, politics, legislation and the economy in promoting programmes to improve the situation of minority language speakers.

The Irish and Welsh Language Commissioners, Rónán Ó Domhnaill and Gwenith Price, alongside contributors to the book, provided touching testimonials at the event, outlining their respect and admiration of Professor Williams’s dedication to the field.

Professor Williams’s hopes are that the book will provide those in power with additional evidence when formulating future policies, as well as assisting academics and promoting interdisciplinarity of linguistics and legislation.

Williams said: “The most important thing for me is the quality of the contributions which are all unique, fresh and offer guidance to others who are active in the field.

“My way of working relies a lot on a holistic approach to analyse context and evaluate how feasible different methods are. The aim is to see what works and transfer good practice from one system to another.”

In entering into a career within language policy, Professor Williams wished to make a difference to the situation of minority community members. This situation, he states, is multifactorial.

“Perhaps the most important is the commitment of citizens and communities but without an authoritative context, the power of the community does not lead to structural changes. So formulating a credible language policy is central to all our efforts. This means a political commitment that offers a framework and releases resources to realize whatever vision the government has coloured over the long term.

“As a result my research has focused on examining authoritative decisions, questioning and interrogating the views and values of politicians and policy makers, and most importantly analysing how civil servants operate and evaluate policies over a fairly long period.”

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