User Tools

Site Tools


Glossary of Terms

Autonomous Community

An autonomous community is an area in Spain that enjoys limited political and administrative autonomy. They were created in accordance with the Spanish constitution of 1978 to guarantee limited autonomy of the nationalities and regions that comprise the Spanish nation. Spain has 17 autonomous communities and many of these have additional official languages next to the official state language Castillian 1).

Council of Europe

A European wide human rights organisation with 47 European states as a member. The Council of Europe drafts conventions describing measures that members can take to protect human rights, and urges its members to ratify these conventions. It also determines whether its members comply with these conventions by sending delegates to members states every few years.

European Charter for Regional and Minority languages

Convenant drafted by the Council of Europe in 1992 which offers protection for regional or minority languages. The Charter essentially is a list measures that Council members states can take to protect regional and minority languages within their territory, organised in Part II and Part III.

  • View the text of the Charter here.
  • For an overview of which language is protected by which Charter measurements, look here.

Part II of the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages

If a minority language is mentioned under Part II of the Charter, the state member shall base their policies, legislation and practice on nine framework conditions, including “the provision of appropriate forms and means for the teaching and study of regional or minority languages at all appropriate stages.”

Part III of the European Charter for Regional and Minority languages

If a minority language is mentioned under Part III of the Charter it enjoys a stronger form of protection: the host country of this language has committed itself to additional measures, i.e. undertakings, to protect this language. Part III covers education; judicial authorities; administrative authorities and public services; media; cultural activities and facilities; economic and social life; and transfrontier exchanges. The country has to apply a minimum of 35 undertakings from Part III, including at least three (3) from Article 8 on Education.

Endangered Languages Project

The Endangered Languages Project is a knowledge-sharing platform for language documentation, preservation and education. It gives information on endangered languages and provides resources, as well as the opportunity for individulas to add resources. In their database of languages they also scale the language vitality: at risk, endangered, severely endangered, dormant, awakening, or vitally unknown.


Ethnologue is a database with over 7000 languages, with information on: language identifcation, user population, location, language status (EGIDS level), classification, dialects, typology, language use, language development, and language resources. Since October 2019, Ethnologue has installed a strict paywall2).

Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

A treaty drafted by the Council of Europe in 1995 which offers protection for national minorities. The Framework Convention promotes equality of persons belonging to national minorities concerning economic, social, political and cultural life. It also sets conditions for national minorities to express, preserve and develop their culture and identity.

  • View the text of the Framework Convenion here.
  • For an overview which state members have signed and/or ratified the Framework Convetnion, look here


Glottolog is a the database for languages with a unique identifier, the Glottocode, to represent names of languages. On the website, the Agglomerated Endangerment Scale (AES) of a language is also given (not endangered,threatened, shifting, moribund, nearly extinct, or extinct).

International Labour Organization

International Labour Organization (ILO) is a U.N. agency with 187 members which aims to “ to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men”3). In 1989, it passed the Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention.

ISO 639-3

ISO 639-3 is an international standard to represent names of languages, using three‐letter codes. The standard was developed by SIL International.

Official language:

A language that may be used for official purposes, such as in government, in court, etc. An official language is bound to a certain political territory or unit (for example: nation state, federal state, province, municipality, etc).

For Example: In the kingdom of the Netherlands, Dutch is the official (state) language. However, within the province of Fryslân, Frisian is a second official language. This means that within Fryslân, both Dutch and Frisian can be used for government, court, etc, whereas the rest of the Netherlands permits only Dutch.

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

The PACE is one of the two statutory bodies of the Council of Europe aling with teh Committee of Ministers It is amde up of 324 members, from the national partliaments of the CoE state members. The PACE oversees the execution by member states of the CoE ideals and agreements and for that purpose, the PACE can demand action, conduct probes, question state heads, observe elections, negotiate terms to join the CoE, inspire and give opinions, request legal opinions, and sanction member states.

Ratification of a treaty

After the signature of a treaty, a state may ratify a treaty. The state is bound to the treaty and agrees to comply to and to implement the provisions of the treaty. For the Council of Europe, the states that have ratified a treaty agree to periodic reports on the execution of the treaty.

Regional or minority languages

Defined in the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages as languages traditionally used within a given territory of a state by nationals of that state who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the state’s population; they are different from the official language(s) of that state, and they include neither dialects of the official language(s) of the state nor the languages of migrants.

Signature of a treaty

A state can become a party of the treaty by signing it. As a party, a state cannot interfere with the purpose of the treaty.

Standardized orthography

If a minority language has a standardized orthography, it means that the speakers are in agreement about how the language should be written: which spelling should be used. The authority to determine the spelling can lie with a designated language institute.


A treaty is “an international agreement concluded between States in written form and governed by international law, whether embodied in a single instrument or in two or more related instruments and whatever its particular designation”4)

A convention, agreement, charter, code, framework convention, or outline convention are forms of a treaty.


United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an international organisation with 193 member states and 11 associate members. It aims “to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture”5). Since 2018, the USA is no longer a member of UNESCO.

UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger

The UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger is a free online atlas with information on lesser used languages. The Atlas provides the name, number of speakers, degree of endangerement (vulnerable, definitely endangered, severely endangered, critically endangered, or extinct) and the state(s) where the language is spoken plus ISO codes and geographic coordinates. When possible, it also lists policies, projects and sources.

United Nations

Established in October 24, 1945, the United Nations (UN) is an international organisation with 193 member states. It aims are “peace and security, climate change, sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, terrorism, humanitarian and health emergencies, gender equality, governance, food production, and more”6). The UN declared 2019 as The Year of Indigenous Languages, see IY2019.

Matacic, C. World’s largest linguistics database is getting too expensive for some researchers. (2020, February 10). Science. Retrieved February 25, 2020, from
International Labour Organization. About the ILO. (n.d.). Retrieved from
UNESCO. UNESCO in Brief: Mission and Mandate. (n.d.). Retrieved from
United Nations. Overview. (n.d.). Retrieved from
general_information/glossary_of_terms.txt · Last modified: 2023/06/06 12:27 by ydwine

Donate Powered by PHP Valid HTML5 Valid CSS Driven by DokuWiki