Minority Languages and Cultural Diversity in Europe: Gaelic and Sorbian Perspectives

To what extent is linguistic continuity a prerequisite for ethno-cultural survival? Focusing on the Gaelic community in Scotland and the Sorbs of Lusatia, this study illuminates core assumptions and rationales in relation to minority language revitalisation ideologies in Scotland and Germany and shows how they have been affected by assimilation processes arising from modernisation and globalisation. A thorough review of relevant theoretical debates is followed by a presentation of historical contexts and a detailed analysis of contemporary discourses about bilingualism, cultural difference and ethno-cultural belonging within the Gaelic and Sorbian communities. Drawing on more than 100 interviews, a questionnaire survey and a wide range of comments by Gaelic and Sorbian speakers in the media, the author identifies current ideological faultlines in Gaelic and Sorbian activist circles and argues that minority language planners must critically engage with competing theoretical paradigms if revitalisation efforts are to be successful.