Revitalizing an endangered language in Portugal

Revitalizing an endangered language in Portugal

Arte Institute suggests “Revitalizing an endangered language in Portugal” a Crowdfunding campaign.

Language Endangerment – Revitalizing Minderico: Crowdfunding campaign
A small step to create a conscious multilingual and multicultural society

From the 16th century on, the blankets of Minde, a small village in the centre of Portugal, became famous all over the country. The wool carders and blanket traders of Minde began to use Minderico (ISO /drc/) in order to protect their business from “intruders”. Later, this secret language extended to all social and professional groups and became the main means of communication in the village. During this process, Minderico turned into a full-fledged language with a very characteristic intonation and a complex morphosyntax. Today, Minderico, which is not officially recognized in Portugal, risks becoming extinct, more than ever before in its history. Due to economic, social and educational reasons, the number of speakers declined drastically during the last 50 years. Minderico is now spoken by only 150 active speakers and understood by about 1000 speakers. The language lost its scope of application, being now used only in familiar contexts (with family and friends), since Portuguese is the language of administration, education, economy, media, digital communication, etc.

The linguist Vera Ferreira (head of CIDLeS – Interdisciplinary Centre for Social and Language Documentation, works on Minderico since 2001. She has started a crowdfunding project to support the revitalization of the language. The campaign aims to raise funds to strengthen the presence of Minderico at the local school, for instance by offering regular language classes, developing teaching materials and training teachers, but also to promote reading and writing in the language and to foster intergenerational communication.

According to Ferreira, the main goal of the project is to give schoolchildren the possibility to know and learn an endangered language (the language of their ancestors), its cultural richness and identifying power and to make them aware of the linguistic diversity and the importance of balanced multilingualism.

The Portuguese writer, poet and singer Pedro Barroso and Lleuwen Steffan, Welsh/Breton singer and songwriter and winner of Liet International 2012 (song festival for minority languages in Europe) are two of the supporters of this campaign.

Learn more about the project here: