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Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts

From the Welsh Border to the World: Travels in Minority Languages, by Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts, revolves around Dr Roberts’ travels through the world’s most linguistically diverse regions, taking a comparative approach to the contemporary status of minority languages.

From Albania to Wales (and also to Patagonia); from Senegal to Vanuatu, Dr Roberts discusses ways in which such languages can be protected without resorting to exclusivity, hostility, or the ‘othering’ of those seen as threatening to that culture.

Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at the University of Chester, and was part of the team that launched the programme in 2003. With a personal connection to Wales, Dr Roberts’ book reflects on its place in the modern world and the status and significance of the Welsh language. It considers Welsh as a case study of how a language can thrive in relation to the global dominance of English.

Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts said: “Minority language extinction on an enormous scale has been occurring for over a century and has sped up dramatically in the last two decades. Through this publication, and my travels, I wanted to explore the conundrum: how do you preserve a fragile culture in a globalised world without resorting to narrow exclusivity or destructive protectionism?

“My travels revolved around particularly linguistically diverse regions of the world, where I found that almost everybody was delighted to talk about language – it is central to life, culture and identity in West Africa in much the same way as it is in the South Pacific, the Balkans, Central America, Gwynedd or the Gaeltacht. People are not reluctant to discuss their linguistic heritage, they do not need to have their thoughts on its meaning teased out of them: they are proud of it, and they absolutely understand its significance in a globalised world and the way in which the negotiation with lingua francas like English, Hindi, Russian or French is conducted. This book examines case studies drawn from every continent, all with very different contexts, and assessed in relation to established European exemplars like Welsh, Basque and Breton.”

He added: “In most of Western Europe, views of minority languages have shifted over time, from being seen as a threat to the ‘centre’, to being embraced and sometimes even celebrated as an indication of cultural vibrancy, intangible heritage and diversity. The message is, in general, a positive one: a comparative approach suggests that, although there are pressing threats to minority languages from a wide range of global and domestic forces, there are also realistic grounds for optimism.”

From the Welsh Border to the World: Travels in Minority Languages, by Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts, is available directly from the University of Chester Press: www.chester.ac.uk/university-press (including online ordering), or call 01244 513305, or email: sarah.griffiths@chester.ac.uk

Notes to Editors

Dr Simon Gwyn Roberts was a practising journalist for 10 years, editing several London-based business and finance publications. He holds a BA from the University of Manchester, an MA from the University of Liverpool and a PhD from the University of Chester. He leads numerous modules across the journalism programmes. His current research interests include: the role of online media in the communication strategies of minority language groups, regionalism and the representation of place, the history of Welsh newspapers, and the relationship between the news, media and political devolution. He has also published numerous journal articles, books and chapters.

 

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