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Minority language rights: understanding legislation and the law

28 April 2015

An expert research symposium, hosted by the Language, Policy & Planning Research Unit, at the School of Welsh, Cardiff University, was held on Tuesday April 28th 2015.

Entitled 'Regulating language, regulating rights?' the symposium, which arises from a major ESRC sponsored research project, provided a forum for multi-disciplinary discussion of minority language policy. Previously in Wales in particular, the focus in language policy has been on promotion and advocacy, yet the need for effective regulatory frameworks to implement, interpret and apply language rights, cannot be underestimated.

An international group of leading academic voices in the arena of language policy and rights gathered in Cardiff to share their research and develop the discussion on this challenging topic.  Head of the School of Welsh, Professor Sioned Davies, welcomed all attendees before opening remarks were heard from Professor Diarmait Mac Giolla Chriost.

Speakers included Dr Jacqueline Mowbray, faculty at the University of Sydney and a Cardiff University Visiting Fellow, author of 'Linguistic justice: International law and language policy' while academics from the University of Edinburgh, Aberystwyth University and Nottingham University also presented their research.

The symposium was organised by Dr Patrick Carlin along with Professor Mac Giolla Chriost.

Dr Carlin said of the symposium: "Taking forward our original research the aim of the symposium was to consider international language rights and freedoms and the laws and conventions for their protections. Developing that further, we looked at whether the freedom to use a language can be usefully protected by law and how language rights enshrined in law at international and national levels relate to each other."

Professor Mac Giolla Chríost added: "The gathered speakers are all expert in their fields and today's discussions have been well informed, thoughtful and passionate. It is important that minority language policy responds to contemporary realities and issues, ensuring regulation and legislation is fit for purpose. Academic research has a crucial role to play in informing public policy."

Prior to the symposium, participants attended a dinner hosted by Deputy Presiding Officer of the National Assembly for Wales, David Melding AM.