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Endangered regional and minority languages in media in the digital era

October 19 -20, 2018 at the Võru Institute, 48 Tartu Street, Võru, Estonia

Media plays a central role in the revitalization of minoritized languages. Changes in the media environment in the digital era may be seen as both promising and problematic. For example, there are thousands of media platforms where anyone can create and share content, but information overload may also subsume our attention. Tom Moring, Professor Emeritus at the University of Helsinki, has succinctly concluded: “Traditional ‘legacy media’ have established platforms for their online services in an environment where everybody competes with everybody else. New international players such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have gained momentum. Consumers have found totally new ways of using their increased media time on social media”.

In Estonia, for ca 20 years, different state programs have funded local speech communities whose numbers remain between a couple of hundred and more than 70,000 (PHC 2011). One program aim has been to extend language domains by supporting electronic and print media in Võro, Seto, Mulgi, and Kihnu local languages. The programs facilitate the maintenance of local languages (some of which have a centuries-old tradition of written use in South Estonia) on par with Standard Estonian. Despite these ambitions, media targeted to local speech communities has remained rather traditional: print paper media is the most produced and read. The production of regular television broadcasts has been considered an endeavor far too expensive. Yet since content can now be time-shifted or streamed, the question is raised of whether t.v. programming is needed now at all?

Meanwhile, digital media initiatives, the so-called “best practices,” are ever-expanding in Europe and elsewhere; these can also be implemented in Estonia for the benefit of the above-mentioned speech communities. The presentations will look for answers to the questions: What are the possibilities of media in the digital era? And, how can different experiences be used for revitalizing their languages? Presentations will also map the ways speech communities operate in media landscapes and reflect the ways speakers of endangered languages have thus far taken advantage of new media opportunities.


Registration is open here until 14 October 2018.

The working languages of the conference will be Võru, Estonian, Finnish and English. While, no translation will be provided, presentations in general include English slides.

The fee is 30 euros. This includes conference materials and meals. Only bank transfers will be accepted. The fee should be transferred by the due date indicated on the invoice. Reimbursements will be not made. Make sure to arrange your accommodation.

Updates and detailed information are available from Mr. Evar Saar and Ms. Tuuli Abel, Võro Instituut, Tartu 48, 65609 Võru, e-mail: wi@wi.ee, phone +372 7821960 or +372 78 28757. Please do not hesitate to contact us!

See previous conferences