at treffpunkt sprachen is a socio-political
project based on a sociolinguistic foundation.
The sphere of activities of an applied research facility concerning plurilingualism ranges from language policy and its implementation to language documentation and their application.
The basis of all language policy considerations and activities regarding plurilingualism is the Universal Declaration of Linguistic Rights. This document not only comprises the language policy demands following various recommendations, declarations, conventions, charters etc. by UNESCO, Council of Europe etc., but also demands the right for individuals and groups to use their own languages in every situation to be established as a human right.
Connected therewith is every child’s right to be schooled and gain literacy in their respective language of socialization or “mother tongue”. This recommendation was already submitted by UNESCO in 1953 in The Use of Vernacular Languages in Education.
This results inter alia in the demands for a rethink in educational policy and a paradigm shift in language teaching and subsequently also in teacher education: from monolingual “mother tongue” and second language teacher to plurilingual language teacher.
The potential implementation of such language policy demands is based on the documentation of both societal multilingualism as well as individual plurilingualism.
In this context, documentation always means documentation of linguistic diversity:
- the diversity of languages,
- the diversity of a language’s varieties,
- the diversity and variance within varieties.
Content-wise, these documentation tasks comprise the collection and processing of information about linguistic diversity as well as the documentation of languages and their varieties in linguistic corpora under consideration of variety-specific internal variance. The main focus is on Austria’s languages which include all languages spoken on Austrian territory:
- autochthonous languages,
- as well as allochthonous languages,
- and especially migrant languages.
The results of the applied language documentation projects always form the basis of the implementation of language policies in the context described above. The objectives of these policies are reached by the application and implementation of the results in education policies at different levels. The spectrum of potential applications spans from information events and training modules appropriate to the target audience to linguistic diversity and the codification and didactisation of languages based on linguistic corpora.
Although obvious, it should be explicitly emphasised that the examination of language against the initially noted background must under no circumstances be seen as separated from the respective speakers and their circumstances. Hence, the object under investigation is always language in its socio-cultural context.
- ... is an individual’s ability to use different languagesdepending on the respective situation. The speaker’s competence in the individual languages may vary. In contrast, multilingualism stands for a group’s ability to speak several languages while members of the group are not only plurilingual, but may also be monolingual.
- ... is both the result of an individual’s multilingual socialization in a multilingual family or society, as well as that of learning languages.
- ... is natural to the multilingually socialized majority of mankind and is increasingly consciously acquired by monolingually socialized individuals.
- ... is a prerequisite for participating in the global information society and in the economic, political and cultural life of the “global village”.
- ... has a complex connection with identity, culture and intercultural competence, an individual’s ability to move between groups of different linguistic and cultural backgrounds and to communicate between them.
- ... stands for the individual reality of pluralistic linguistic identity and hence forms the basis for the collective reality of linguistic diversity.
- ... is the linguistic reflex and linguistic aspect of plurality which not only manifests itself in linguistic, but also in ethno-cultural and socio-cultural diversity.
- ... is a central aspect of any social policy conception of multiculturalism which reflects the reality of socio-cultural diversity and opposes the ideology of nation states which is based on the utopian assumption of uniform – monolingual, monocultural, etc. – societies.
- ... is the crucial prerequisite for peaceful and respectful interaction between individuals and groups with different and plural socio-cultural and ethnolinguistic backgrounds.