The Smithsonian Institution

Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe (SMiLE)

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In 2015, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage began an interdisciplinary and international research program, Sustaining Minoritized Languages in Europe (SMiLE), that examined several minoritized language communities and their revitalization initiatives. In Europe, some language programs have continued in various forms for over a hundred years, and although language revitalization is community-driven and responsive to local traditions and concerns, efforts everywhere can learn from each other in how they work through common problems. 

SMiLE research was particularly interested in building a set of case studies that look in depth at factors that: 

  • reveal the trajectory of a community’s language revitalization program(s) and/or efforts at various stages of their life cycles; 
  • show how the programs respond to internal and external social, cultural, economic, and political factors; and 
  • explore relationships among language revitalization, cultural heritage, and traditional cultural transmission—areas of particular interest to the Center. 

These SMiLE case studies were completed in 2019 and focus on how language revitalization programs and efforts sustain and build on their accomplishments over time. In doing so, they reveal how community-driven efforts not only survive and grow but how they gain control—or agency—over the future of their languages.  

You can find more information on the SMiLE project website:


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