Excavating naming practices in language research  methodologies: The case of Romani languages in Europe

The Language and Communication research cluster is delighted to announce a presentation by our colleague and Associate Professor in Education, Dr Leena Robertson, on excavating naming practices in language research  methodologies: The case of Romani languages in Europe.

When? Friday 19th October 2018, 14.30 – 15.30

Where? Room V105, Vine building, Middlesex University, London, NW4 4BT

This presentation draws on a European Union (EU) funded research study (more details can be found here https://research.ncl.ac.uk/romtels/) in which the Roma research participants identified their language as ‘our gypsy language’. The process of finding names for their Romani varieties more specifically – and more ‘accurately’ and ‘formally’ – opened up new and unexpected situations. The research team’s firm and clearly acknowledged starting point had included a recognition that language names are never politically innocent or neutral, and the names of languages and linguistic varieties have always been dependent on who is doing the naming, and for what purpose, and whose purpose, and whether the naming is done by an insider or an outsider, from an emic (insider) or an etic (outsider)  perspective (Headland et al, 1991).

It is language names and naming practices that are excavated here in an on-going quest for developing more socially just methodologies. In the case of Roma people and with reference to their various Romani language names, they are a source of information of the Roma past and the various Roma groups’ routes of migration (Matras, 2005), and of social exclusion and marginalisation (Danaher, 2013; Fleck and Rughinis, 2008). Importantly, they also reveal Roma people’s agency and attempts to resist marginalisation (Danaher, 2013). One of the key findings concerned the participants’ investigation of both emic and etic naming practices of their own language – switching from emic to etic – which promoted emancipation.



Leena Robertson is Associate Professor in the department of Education at Middlesex University, London. Leena’s work, research and publications are in the field of multilingualism, literacies, culture and learning. She has extensive experience of teaching multilingual children in schools, and working with families and community teachers. For many years she led teacher education programmes and mentored teachers and student teachers in London schools. Leena has led a network of early years teachers in Finland and Estonia in developing child-initiated pedagogies. Her latest work concerns translanguaging, Roma children and their families, and she remains committed in developing pedagogies and practices that foster social justice. Originally from Finland, Leena enjoys swimming in open seas, and in all seasons, and spending time with her family and friends.

The Language and Communication Research Seminars are free and open to all staff, students and guests. For any questions or if you would like to lead a session, contact Anna Charalambidou.

Click here to see all 2018-19 Language & Communication research seminars.

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