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  Linguistic rights and the sociolinguistic condition of ethnolinguistic minorities in Romania

    Policy context and theoretical perspective

    A fundamental change in linguistic policies regarding minorities represents one of the most relevant evolutions in the domain of minority rights in Romania. The change has brought a shift from national exclusivism (the exclusive promotion of Romanian language under socialism) to a new pragmatics of public policies which promotes and financially supports the allocation of significant functions to minority languages (in such domains as formal education, administration, justice, and so on).

    This change in linguistic policy has taken course in the context within which the Romanian state has fulfilled several obligations required by the  international community adhering to fundamental international treatises and conventions in minority language (for example European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages). Adhering to these international conventions implies the obligation of the government to report the forms and the extent of conformity to various regulations stipulated in these normative documents. Hence, RIRMN undertakes systematic monitoring of the implementation of regulations.

    Obviously, monitoring does not mean only gathering data from various actors responsible for the promotion of linguistic rights, but constitutes

    a) an endeavor firmly grounded in the theoretical, methodological, and conceptual universe of sociolinguistics and of linguistic policy analysis, and

    b) aims to a synthetic analysis according to the model of ethnolinguistic vitality proposed by Howard Giles and his collaborators at the beginning of the 1980s.


    Main activities

    Besides collecting empirical data, ISPMN promotes research results of other scholars in this domain. For this, we organized (in partnership with university departments) a series of three conferences, which reviewed the main results of the pedagogy of multilingualism, sociolinguistics, and linguistic policy related to the linguistic behavior of the minorities in Romania and Eastern and Central Europe. Moreover, starting from 2011 we initiated a series of workshops joined by both researchers and activists in promoting Romani language in Romania.

    Beyond empirical description of various dimensions of linguistic policies and sociolinguistic processes of minorities, our investigation develops new lines of study by simultaneously approaching three closely interlinked dimensions of the linguistic rights of minorities: the formal legal, institutional and sociolinguistic. Furthermore, the analysis explores the public use and the social hierarchy of minority languages. This line of inquiry builds on the theoretical and methodological arsenal designed for the study of linguistic landscapes. Today, research on minority sociolinguistics focuses rather on specific issues, yet attempts toward a synthesis based on the ethnolinguistic vitality model are on the long term research agenda of the Institute.


    Research organization and human resources

    Given the inherent thematic convergence of various subjects in the domain of minority and ethnic research, RIRNM researchers are not involved exclusively in just one specific research or topic. For example, exploring transformation of traditional minority communities requires regular ethnographic study but also sociolinguistic analysis. Therefore, specialization in a particular subject does not necessarily bond researchers to a research direction, because topics cross the boundaries of research teams. The opposite is also true, meaning that anthropologist, sociologists, and demographers in other teams participate frequently in this team's projects.


    Publications in the field

    Bogdán, Andrea - Mohácsek, Magdolna (eds.): Nyelvi jogok útmutató [Guide of language rights]. Editura ISPMN, Cluj-Napoca, Cluj-Napoca, 2012.

    Peti, Lehel - Tánczos, Vilmos (eds.): Language Use, Attitudes, Strategies. Linguistic Identity and Ethnicity in the Moldavian Csángó Villages. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2012.

    Horváth, István: Minorities, Minority Protection in Romania. In Horváth István - Tonk Márton (eds.): Minority politics within the Europe of regions. Editura ISPMN -  Scientia, Cluj-Napoca, 2011, 475-500.

    Horváth, István - Tódor Erika (eds.): Limbă, identitate, multilingvism şi politici educaţionale [Language, identity, multilingualism and educational policies]. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2010.

    Jakab, Albert Zsolt- Peti, Lehel (eds.):  Minorități în zonele de contact interetnic. Cehii și slovacii din România și Ungaria [Minorities in interethnic regions. The Czechs and Slovaks in Romania and Hungary]. Editura ISPMN - Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2010.

    Kiss, Tamás - Veress, Ilka: Minorităţi din România: dinamici demografice şi identitare [Minorities from Romania: dynamics of demography and identity]. Editura ISPMN, Working Papers in Romanian Minority Studies, no.  30, 2010.

    Horváth, István (ed.) - Veress Ilka - Vitos Katalin: Utilizarea limbii maghiare în administraţia publică locală şi în instituţiile deconcentrate din judeţul Harghita [The use of Hungarian language in deconcentrated (territorial) governmental institutions and in institutions of local public administration in Harghita county, Romania]. Editura ISPMN, Working Papers in Romanian Minority Studies, no. 27, 2010.

    Horváth, István - Tódor Erika (eds.): Nemzetállamok, globalizáció és kétnyelvűség. Nyelvpedagógiai és szociolingvisztikai tanulmányok [Nationstates, globalization and bilingualism. Studies in language pedagogy and sociolinguistics]. Editura ISPMN- Kriterion, Cluj-Napoca, 2009.

    Horváth, István: Nyelvi készségek, nyelvi viselkedés és etnokulturális reprodukció az erdélyi magyar népesség vonatkozásában [Linguistic competence, linguistic behaviour and ethnocultural reproduction among the Hungarian population in Romania]. In Spéder Zsolt (ed.): Párhuzamok. Anyaországi és erdélyi magyarok a századfordulón [Parallels. Hungarians in the Mother Country and in Transylvania at the Turn of the Century]. KSH Népességtudományi Kutatóintézet, Budapest, 2009, 153-182.

    Horváth, István: Politici lingvistice faţă de minorităţile naţionale din România 1990-2008 [Linguistic policies toward the national minorities in Romania between 1990-2008]. In Sfera Politicii, Vol. 138, 2009, 29-33.

    Horváth, István: Kisebbségi nyelvi jogok és kisebbségi nyelvhasználat Romániában [Minority linguistic rights and minority language use in Romania]. In Magyar Tudomány, November, 2009, 1304-1312.

    Horváth, István: Evaluarea politicilor lingvistice din România [The evaluation of linguistic policices in Romania]. In Salat Levente (ed.): Politici de integrare a minorităţilor naţionale din România. Aspecte legale şi instituţionale într-o perspectivă comparată [Policies of integration of national minorities in Romania. Legal and institutional aspects in a comparative perspective ]. EDRC Publishing house, Cluj-Napoca, 2008, 203-213.

    Horváth, István - Tódor Erika (eds.): O evaluare a politicilor de producere a bilingvismului. Studii elaborate pe baza prezentărilor din cadrul conferinţei de la Miercurea-Ciuc, 12-13 iunie 2008 [An evaluation of policies producing bilingualism. Studies elaborated on the basis of conference-presentation held in Miercurea-Ciuc, 12- 13 June 2008]. Editura ISPMN -  Limes, Cluj-Napoca, 2008.

    Horváth, István: Elemzések a romániai magyarok kétnyelvűségéről [Analyses about the bilingualism of the Hungarians from Romania]. Editura ISPMN, Working Papers in Romanian Minority Studies, no. 8, 2008.





    Comportament sociolingvistic în comunităţi lingvistice minoritare. Studii în comunităţile lingvistice ale croaţilor, ucrainenilor, slovacilor

    Tipul cercetării : cercetare de teren

    Locul: Poienile de sub Munte, Cerpotoc, Izvoarele

    Perioadamai-octombrie (15 zile) 2009

    ResponsabilHorváth István

    Descriere: Prin prezenta cercetare s-au aplicat chestionare sociolingvistice, cu referire la contextele sociolingvistice de utilizare a limbii materne, la variate atitudini lingvistice ale comunităţilor minoritare mici ca volum. Dar, aceste chestionare au fost aplicate în localităţi rurale unde minorităţile reprezintă majoritatea, sau se constituie ca şi comunităţi semnificative de vorbire. Datele vor fi integrate într-un model al analizei vitalităţii lingvistice.


    Pentru a avea acces la baza de date  vă rugăm trimiteţi un e-mail la adresa: centru.doc@ispmn.gov.ro




    Linguistic landscape in the business sector

     Research period: January - September 2012

    Research project coordinator: István Horváth

    RIRNM researchers participating in the project: Gyula Kozák, Ilka Veress

    Research topic:  the inventory of linguistic policies of various retail shop networks

    Research objectives:

    The central research question is whether the various retail shop networks have special linguistic policies in the Romanian regions where minority language-speakers make up a significant percentage of the population. Such linguistic policies can be detected if minority languages are used for publicity within the retail shops.

    Description: The research project consists of the following: preparing the evaluation grid and the methodolological guide; selecting the  retail shop networks  to be included in the research; fieldwork; elaborating the database; analyzing the collected data; writing a working paper on the basis of the research results. 

    The fieldwok will consist of mapping the use of minority languages within the selected retail shops in various localities on the basis of a questionnaire elaborated by the researchers participating in the project. In some cases fieldwork activities will have to be completed by conducting semi-structured interviews with the managers of the shops.




    The language rights of the national minorities -  a practical guide 

    Research project coordinators: Magdolna Mohácsek; Andrea Bogdan

    External researcher participating in the project: Zoltán Sipos

    Research topic: the language rights of the Hungarian minority in Romania

    Research project objectives: to promote and raise public awareness of minority rights among the Hungarian minority population in Romania

    The research project consisted of the following: collecting the concerning regulatory acts in Romanian and Hungarian languages, and preparing the guide.


    The main objective of the project has been to elaborate and publish a practical guide in Hungarian language concerning the linguistic rights of the Hungarian minority living in Romania. The guide presents in a clear, easily accessible manner the language rights of the Hungarian minority through examples from everyday situations, for e.g. how to use the Hungarian language in various public administration institutions or domains, such as the police, the court, health institutions, education etc.



    Bogdán Andrea - Mohácsek Magdolna: Nyelvi jogok útmutató [Guide to language rights]. Editura ISPMN, Cluj-Napoca, 2012.




    MinLex - Database of legislation on national minority rights in Romania 

    The objective of the MinLex legislative database project is to collect and organize according to specific criteria the legislative acts adopted after 1990 (înainte de 1990) which either have provisions concerning the ethnic and national minorities or affect their political, social and economic situation. The database includes also the concerning legislative acts adopted before 1990 which were in force for some period after 1990.

    The database provides the opportunity for persons belonging to the national minorities to thoroughly understand and exercise their rights as widely as possible. At the same time, we hope to contribute to changing the habits of using one's mother langauage in various domains of public life, such as  public administration, economic and social life, healthcare etc. This would encourage the application of the provisions and principles embodied in various laws, thus ensuring equality of rights not only in theory but in practice as well.

    The fact that the database includes both the legal provisions in force and those repealed enables also retrospective analyses on minority rights. By looking at the evolution of national minority rights and the related institutions, the minority politics of the state can be revealed in various historical and political contexts.

    The database is available for the public through a complex search engine. The database content can be accessed in Romanian and Hungarian languages.




    Bilingual forms

    The project refers to the application of the Romania legislation on minority rights, specifically on the use of mother language ​​in administrative-territorial units where citizens belonging to national minorities exceed 20% of the population.

    The bilingual forms (in Romanian and Hungarian) available on the website of the Institute are those used in communication with local public administration units, deconcentrated public services of ministries and the General Directorates of Social Assistance and Child Protection under the county councils.

    The project has been carried out in partnership with the Szabó T. Attila Linguistic Institute from Cluj-Napoca, Romania.




    Applying the Romanian law on the national minority rights in Harghita county

    Period: November 2008 - February 2009

    Responsible for the project: Vitos Katalin

    In the frame of the project we have analyzed the following:

    • the use of minority languages in the local authorities from Harghita county where the proportion of the national minority population exceeds 20 percent of the total population (secondary analysis on the basis of the Institute's research entitled The application of the Romanian law on national minority rights);
    • minority citizens' mother language use in communication with the local authorities from Harghita county (secondary analysis on the basis of the Institute's research entitled Demography, stratification, language use);
    • the use of minority languages in deconcentrated institutions from Harghita county (primary research);
    • minority citizens' mother language use in communication with the deconcentrated institutions from Harghita county (primary research).


    • 64 questionnaires completed by representatives of deconcentrated institutions (SPSS data base);
    • 200 questionnaires completed by clients of 5 deconcentrated institutions from Harghita county (SPSS data base);
    • working paper




    Applying the law on national minority rights in Romania

    Responsible for the project: Vitos Katalin

    Romanian laws on minority protection are regulated by a serious of normative acts (about 200 in number). As ratified international conventions are parts of the internal law-system, the high number of enforced normative acts on national minorities should be interpreted and applied in concordance with ratified international conventions.

    Most important laws referring to native language use for citizens belonging to minority groups are Law nr. 215/2001 regarding public local administration as well as European Charta of regional or minority languages, ratified by the Romanian Parliament in the 9th of October 2007.

    Sociological survey Application of the law regarding national minority rights in Romania targets researching of the practical application of laws on minority rights.

    Research methods consist in applying a self-respondent questionnaire to all Romanian settlements, where percentage of one national minority is over 20% within the total number of the inhabitants. Questions refer to minorities' cultural activities, to local public administration as well as to education.

    Questionnaires were sent in 2008 november to 1249 mayor's offices from Romania in October to 12, where the above mentioned  legal prescriptionswere applied.

    To access the database click here