Barcelona, November 24 and 25, 2016

International Conference organised by Linguapax International, in cooperation with the Public Administration School of Catalonia (EAPC), with the support of the Language Policy Department of the Catalan Governement  and the Barcelona City Council.

The regulation of languages in constitutional and legal norms, and the implementation by public authorities and social actors of policies aimed at safeguarding and promoting the use of languages in different areas is now a world-wide phenomenon.

Most countries include language clauses in their constitutions. The concept of official language is the most widely used in legal and constitutional texts when regulating the status of languages, but this notion does not mean exactly the same in the various legal and political contexts. Some countries choose other formulae to lay down the legal status of the languages present in their territory.

The action of public authorities and social actors in the field of languages, from a given legal framework, can be articulated around principles, tools or forms of intervention of variable content and intensity according to each context, though they usually share the aim of safeguarding and protecting their own local languages.


In accordance with Linguapax’s mission of preserving linguistic diversity as a value to be promoted through different means, we intend to open the debate on the contribution of the legal framework and resulting language policies to the protection of local languages, in the light of the analysis of plural yet comparable experiences.

Updating this debate is necessary due to developments in the regulation of linguistic realities across the world, in the new forms adopted in language policies, as well as in their theoretical study. And it is oriented to examining the foundations of public decisions concerning the status of languages and to exploring the legal and political elements that influence their materialisation or implementation, always with a view to identifying practical solutions applicable to the protection of linguistic diversity.

For this reason, we shall analyse the experiences of countries that exemplify this diversity across the world and that, from different perspectives, can provide elements of interest in the debate focused on issues such as:

  • How can consensus in determining the status of languages be forged?
  • What is the meaning and content of the official or other legal status of languages provided for in constitutions or legislation?
  • What is the real or practical impact of the official legal framework, or of the recognition of other forms of status, on languages in shaping linguistic reality?
  • What kind of interaction or forms of collaboration between public authorities and social actors can contribute to the objectives of language preservation?
  • On the basis of what principles, including those not provided by law, and through what forms of intervention, are the linguistic policies of public authorities expressed?
  • What distance is there, if any, between the legal framework of language protection and the practices of political and social actors involved in the protection of languages, and what reasons may help to explain the distance?

In order to obtain rich and accurate information and to be able to discuss the implications of the different political and legal models and options, we shall bring together legal experts, sociolinguists and activists from or familiar with the following countries: Finland, India, Malta, Paraguay, Slovenia, South Africa and Switzerland.


  1. Markku Suksi (Finland)/session moderated by Eva Pons
  2. Nicolas Schmitt (Switzerland) /session moderated by Emili Boix
  3. Miguel Ángel Verón (Paraguay) / session moderated by Antoni Milian
  4. Matthias Brenzinger (South Africa) / session moderated by Francesc Xavier Vila
  5. Ganesh Devy (India) / session moderated by Elvira Riera
  6. Albina Nećak Lük (Slovenia) / session moderated by Pere Comellas
  7. Albert Bord and Thomas Pace (Malta) / session moderated by Miquel Strubell

Speakers short bios


(All videos in original versions)


The status of languages /programme update 3

Photo Gallery

To illustrate this symposium we have chosen a picture of the Constitutional Court of South Africa (from The other pictures are from Linguapax.