Emergency Language Policy. Principles and Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

Marco Civico, Cecilia Gialdini, Michele Gazzola, Gordon Marnoch

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This article introduces and discusses the concept of Emergency Language Policy. Research in language policy and planning has not paid enough attention to the study of language policies in emergency situations, when usually there is little or no time to study and investigate in-depth the existing conditions of a language before planning interventions. The COVID-19 outbreak provided the opportunity to critically examine the way multilingual communication was handled in 2020, particularly in relation to linguistic minorities in Europe. While this article does not aim at proposing a theory of Emergency Language Policy, it sets out some recommendations and principles for future policies to minimise inequalities that structurally disadvantage linguistic minorities. The study of language policy in an emergency should focus on the preparation of flexible, rapid intervention contingency plans to be deployed in case of need, and on the creation and maintenance of systems capable of reacting to the unpredictable and of monitoring short-term changes
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-31
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Yearbook of Minority Issues
Early online date26 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished online - 26 Jun 2023


  • COVID-19
  • Language policy
  • Linguistic minorities
  • Language Rights
  • Emergency
  • Minority Languages


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