Writing in Bilingual Worlds
Them mendez ferrin11
Them and other stories Méndez Ferrín
Welsh airs
Welsh Airs R.S. Thomas

As the history of Europe continues to unfold, plurality of language remains a fact both within national boundaries and beyond national territories. In this its fourth issue, Transcript looks at several countries where life is lived, to varying degrees, in the context of bilingualism. We visit Ireland, Finland's Åland islands, the Iberian peninsula and Wales.

Each of these worlds shows language in a different light. Irish (Gaelic) and English are the official languages of Ireland. Despite this fact, very few people speak or write Irish, and English is the national tongue. In neighbouring Wales about 20% of the 2.8 million strong population know Welsh, and many argue that Welsh is not an endangered language. Moving to Finland, we find that Finnish and Swedish have official and equal status throughout mainland Finland. But the Åland Islands are of special interest here: though they form part of Finnish national territory, Swedish is privileged and used almost exclusively on Åland soil. Finally, turning our attention south, we find that the Iberian peninsula is by no means linguistically uniform. Catalan, Basque, Galitian, Castillan and Portuguese: all are spoken there by part of the indigenous population. Transcript introduces writers of the first three of these five idioms.

Bilingualism in modern Europe is by no means confined to the places we have chosen to feature, and Transcript's choice of writers and languages is intended as a reflection of the phenomenon rather than as a catalogue of instances of it. We hope then that our efforts heighten awareness of bilingualism and of the fine writing produced in bilingual worlds.

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