This  article  written by researchers from AThEME partners CNRS-IKER (French National Centre for Scientific Research-IKER), Utrecht University and the University of Rijeka examines  the complex  articulation  between the  setting  up of  a  standard language  and the  accompanying political  and social  changes  that explain  the  relatively successful language  shift reversal  evolution  of Basque. Some aspects of the Basque evolution are compared   elements  in   other   European  minority languages, in particular Frisian and Breton.

Article on maintenance of regional languages

AThEME has published a first European Policy Brief on Regional Minority Languages.

Based on AThEME research findings dealing with regional minority languages, this document is intended to present policy-relevant findings to (European) decision-makers as well as offer them research-based policy recommendations.

Published on the European Commission website showcasing Social Sciences & Humanities research:


This article is a direct collaboration between three AThEME partners (the University of Verona, the French National Centre for Scientific Research CNRS-IKER and Utrecht University). It consists of three case studies based on three geographic areas, each investigating a specific grammar change phenomenon in which multilingual competence plays a key role: (i) Friesland, The Netherlands (ii) the Region Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and (iii) the Basque Country.

Researchers found that grammar change results from interaction of the feature systems of the languages in contact. Specifically, Frisian verbs take over features from the Dutch language, and Cimbrian, a Germanic minority language, takes over characteristics of subordinating conjunctions found in surrounding Romance languages. These two cases illustrate a minority language taking over features from a majority language. The reverse also happens: a majority language taking over features from a minority language, as the researchers found in Spanish interrogative constructions produced by certain Basque-Spanish bilingual speakers. In particular, Basque “interrogative characteristics” have been found in Spanish interrogative sentences produced by bilingual speakers.

These finding are important in that they underline the bilateral nature of linguistic relations and the interconnectivity between the speakers by means of taking over aspects from each other’s language.

Minority languages in language contact situations: three case studies on language change (Nov 2016)


This article is also published in the journal ‘Us Wurk’:

  • Padovan, Andrea; Alessandra, Tomaselli; Bergstra, Myrthe; Corver, Norbert; Etxepare, Ricardo; Dold, SimonMinority languages in language contact situations: three case studies on language change Us Wurk, vol. Jiergong 65 (2016), n. jefte 3-42016pp. 146-174


In this report the AThEME partners working on research theme ‘Regional Languages’ have provided an overview of grammatical diversity in the minority languages and dialects they are investigating. The report offers an overview of language variation between the minority languages and the majority languages that they are in contact with and defines an agenda for research on the dynamics and effects of language contact and language change.

State of the Art Report on Grammatical Diversity of Regional Languages (pdf)

The main objective of the report is to make available, in a single document, a selection of the most important information about the maintenance of regional bilingualism by the different ‘Regional Languages’ research groups and their language varieties of study: Basque, Dutch, Fiuman, Gallo, Sardinian, Primorska Slovenian and varieties spoken in Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol. Information deemed relevant to researchers is included in the report, such as number of speakers, community members’ attitudes toward their own language, intergenerational language transmission or international presence of the language.

State of the art report on maintenance of regional bilingualism (version 1.2) (pdf)