Minority Language Television as an Effective Mechanism of Language Policy

Moriarty, Mairead

University of Limerick, Ireland (Republic of)


Minority Language Television as an Effective Mechanism of Language Policy: A comparative study of the Irish and Basque sociolinguistic contexts.

Minority language media are often considered to be an important element in the revitalisation and survival of minority languages. As a visible and widely used part of contemporary life, media are seen to have the potential to expand domains for small languages, to increase awareness of them and to enhance means and motivation to use these languages (Cutter 2001; Hale 2001). In the context of European minority languages the affect of the process of globalisation on the presence of minority languages on the media has been phenomenal. There has been a dramatic increase in the presence of such languages on the television medium in particular. This presentation provides an original comparative insight in to the role of minority language television in minority language revitalisation amongst third-level students in Ireland and the Basque Autonomous Community. By showing that language revitalisation via the educational system can only have a limited effect, when these efforts are not coupled with an increase in the level of contact with these languages, this paper aims to make the case for television as an alternative milieu in which minority language planners and policy makers can focus more of their attention.

Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from fieldwork undertaken amongst non-first language speaking university students between 18-25 years old, the paper shows that minority language television is a hugely important tool in language revival efforts. The value of minority language television in expanding the domains in which students come in contact with minority languages is also highlighted. The data demonstrates that minority language television in Irish and Basque has enhanced the perception of these languages amongst university students, thus identifying minority language television as an important de-facto mechanism of language policy.

Session: Paper session
Television 2
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 10