Radio interview at ‘Investigadores por el Mundo’

Or click here for the ivoox site.

[English] Radio interview at Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), talking about Hispanic Place Names of Manila [November 17, 2020; in Spanish]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de radio Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), hablando de Toponimia Hispánica de Manila [17 de noviembre de 2020; en español]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), pinag-uusapan ang tungkol sa Hispanic Place Names of Manila [Nobyembre 17, 2020; sa Espanyol]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de radio Investigadores por el Mundo (Libertad FM), fablando de Toponimia Hispánica de Manila [17 de noviembre de 2020; en español]

Coefficient of Joven-Romero: a fair tool to analyze Covid-19 impact.

, being ‘x’ a specific territory.

Abstract: Here I propose a Mathematical Coefficient to easily analyze Covid-19 incidence and evolution in different territories, allowing fair comparisons. The final goal is to provide a tool to avoid biased and unfair information, showing transparent and easy data in Media and Public Administration.

On October 12, 2020, the UK registered 17.232 new Covid-19 cases. The Spanish region of Aragon notified 357 cases (both data were given on October 13, 2020). At first sight, it seems that Aragon is having much better numbers than the UK, but if we take into consideration the total population of each territory -and we should- that is no longer the case. Aragon comprises 1,328,753 people, while the UK comprises 66,796,807 people, so that may explain the initial difference in the number of positive cases. A good measure to take into consideration the total population is to divide the number of positive cases by the total population:Aragon presented slightly worse numbers than the UK on October 12. However, the total population is not the only parameter we may consider if we want to be fair when analyzing and comparing. PCR tests are another hotspot, as some places are testing more than others. It is clear than the more testing in a territory, the more positive cases. Similar, a good measure to take into account the number of PCR tests done is to divide the total number of positives by the number of PCRs done:Aragon is depicting much worse figures. However, with this other measure we forget about the total population.

My proposal gathers these three different parameters: number of positive cases, total population and testing numbers. Coefficient of Joven-Romero is a number between 0 and 1, in which the closer to 0, the better, while the closer to 1, the worse: 0 ≤ CJR(x) ≤ 1. Note that 1 would mean that all the population in a territory have been tested and all of them have got positive Covid-19 results. On October 12, Aragon had a Coefficient of Joven-Romero of 0.0070606316 and the UK had a Coefficient of Joven-Romero of 0.0045051869. That means that Aragon had a 63.80713731% more Covid-19 impact that day (CJR(UK) / CJR(Aragon)). Public Administration and Medical Experts would establish limits and thresholds in this Coefficient of Joven-Romero in order to declare different Covid-19 impact levels, and subsequently, different measures.

Other parameters like the number of casualties or the ICU units occupied by Covid-19 patients may be considered too. However, they are not easy to establish: there are different criteria for ICU, some Covid-19 deceased patients presented other diseases, additional data are difficult to obtain in some territories, the weight these other factors must have in the final formula is debatable, etc.

The purpose of this coefficient is to easily communicate accurate information that allows fair and precise analysis and comparison. Coefficient of Joven-Romero is not addressed to Mathematicians, Statisticians or even Scientists in general, but to Media and Public Administration in order to avoid the spread of biased or unfair data, and to facilitate easy but accurate information transmission on Covid-19. According to this coefficient and this information, different Covid-19 impact levels and subsequent measures might be established.


  • I only consider PCR testing as that is currently the only feasible testing method to detect Covid-19.
  • At the beginning, I was willing to exemplify the proposed Coefficient of Joven-Romero with data from the UK and Spain. Unfortunately, Spanish official data are incomplete and unclear, and that made impossible such comparison. Then, I decided to use the Aragonese official data, well collected in the below-stated link.

Sources (UK Official Covid-19 Data) [Accessed on October 13] (Aragon Official Covid-19 Data) [Accessed on October 13]

Reggaeton: much more than a feminist matter

Abstract: Reggaeton is one of the main musical and cultural exponents of the Hispanic contemporary world. Feminist analysis and criticism are common, and the style itself is evolving. Here I defend that Reggaeton is not just a feminist issue, but a class phenomenon.

In the attached clip, Spanish X-Factor judge Eva Perales strongly criticizes Reggaeton music, and more specifically, an amateur couple made of two Hispanic migrant men. Some of the sentences and arguments of Perales are:

(i) Have you ever listened something else apart from Reggaeton?
(ii) Reggaeton damages me as a woman (…) I do not like sexist lyrics (…) Why don’t you talk about women in other way?
(iii) [After mocking] Reggaeton kicks my ass.

The song, sentences and arguments from the Crazy Boys state:

(i) [Song The Maniatic Girl] Look, I fancy the Maniatic Girl (…) I like your body, and you all (…) You make me brutally horn (… ) You are easy, you flirt me and I become crazy, crazy.
(ii) [To Perales] You are abusing the weak.
(iii) Reggaeton is music too.
(iv) You are a racist of the music.

Even when this episode happened in 2008 and it might be intentionally prepared and streamed, similar scenes following same patters have happened during the last decade. In general terms, feminism activists and scholars have analyzed and criticized Reggaeton, and former and new Reggaeton singers have lately adapted (Merlyn 2020, Morales 2020, Villagra 2007). Sexism is highlighted, but Reggaeton is also considered violent and vulgar in comparison with already settled genres. The attached clip perfectly prints Reggaeton hotspots. 

Reggaeton spread during the 90’s in Hispanic America among lower class societies and it tended to print their reality characterized by discrimination, sexism, violence and vulgarity. Upper class Hispanic American societies criticized and ridiculed the new style. Spanish society, richer in average and many times far from Hispanic American contemporary currents, first ignored Reggaeton and then criticized it, similarly to upper class Hispanics. However, the new style has been powerful enough to permeate into the whole Hispanic -and Global- society (Carballo 2007). On the other hand, singers are adapting and blurring its sexism, violence and vulgarity, and sometimes it is used for vindicating feminism and women. Here I remark that there also are geographical, racial and normative aspects, and all of them, together with the feminist issue, rely on a class difference.

Geographical difference

Reggaeton spread in Hispanic American countries. Only after a decade, it was introduced in Spain among criticism. The America-Europe difference towards Reggaeton is still present. Reggaeton in Spain responds to Hispanic migrants and global tendencies more than to linguistic, cultural or historical ties. Economic standards in Spain tend to be higher than in Hispanic American countries, while Hispanic migrants in Spain tend to hold worse positions.

Racial difference

Inside Hispanic American countries, racially speaking Reggaeton is more popular among Hispanics than among Europeans and Caucasians. Links between race and class in Hispanic America are well known and deeply studied, showing a tendency of middle and lower classes being Hispanic mestizo and aborigines, while upper classes maintaining Caucasian features (Domínguez 2018; McCaa, Schwartz & Grubessich 1979). In Spain, Reggaeton is far more popular among Hispanic migrants.

Normative aspect

Reggaeton has been devalued in comparison with mainstream already established genres: the norm. Reggeaton’s sexism, violence and vulgarity, derived from lower class styles and ways of living, is attacked from upper class people and established genres creators. However, as it happened with many other cultural manifestations, Reggaeton -or at least, a soft Reggaeton- is permeating, convincing global spectra and making norm.


Eva Perales and the Crazy Boys discussion was rapidly analyzed from feminism. But it is much more than a feminist matter: it is a woman criticizing sexist singers and styles, but also a Spanish criticizing two Hispanic American migrants, a white manager criticizing two dark-skinned mestizo creators, a rock lover criticizing Latin music, and ultimately, a rich person criticizing two poor people.

The real difference underlying the whole discussion is economic. Poverty and discrimination explain rough sexism among low class people, the refusal to mainstream styles and the emergence of new subversive styles. Upper class people tend to defend the establishment, in this case represented by settled genres. In the Hispanic America context, economic difference is linked to race difference, and the same economic difference partly defines differences between Spain and Hispanic America. Many times, Spanish and upper class people criticize sexism, vulgarity and violence, but they do not focus on the real problem: poverty.


Carballo, P. (2007). Reggaeton e identidad masculina. Intercambio, 3 (4), 87-101.

Domínguez, J. I. (2018). Race and ethnicity in Latin America. Routledge.

McCaa, R., Schwartz, S. B., & Grubessich, A. (1979). Race and class in Colonial Latin America: A critique. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 21(3), 421-433.

Merlyn, M. F. (2020). Tell me what you listen to and i will tell you who you are. Representing women in 100 of the more popular reggaeton songs in 2018. Feminismo/s, (35).

Morales, C. D. (2020). Una propuesta para el análisis de los estereotipos femeninos en los videoclips de reggaeton: Caso práctico de los cuatro vídeos más vistos en 2018 en YouTube. Revista Internacional de Cultura Visual, 7(1), 13-26.

TV appearance at ‘Culture Shock’

[English] TV appearance at Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV) talking about my academic activities and my everyday life at University of Santo Tomas (Manila, Philippines) [Second Term, 2020]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de televisión Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV) hablando de mi actividad académica y mi vida diaria en la Universidad de Santo Tomás (Manila, FIlipinas) [Segundo cuatrimestre, 2020]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de televisión Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV) fablando d’a mía actividat academica y a mía vida diaria en a Universidat de Santo Tomás (Manila, Filipinas) [Segundo cuatrimestre, 2020]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Culture Shock (UST Tiger TV). Ipinakita ko ang aking mga akademikong gawain at ang aking pang-araw-araw na buhay sa University of Santo Tomas Manila, Pilipinas) [Pangalawan termino, 2020]

Recent Press Appearances

[English] Recent Press Appearances: Agencia EFE and associated press (May 22: in Spanish), and The Manila Times (May 19: in English).

[Español] Apariciones recientes en prensa: Agencia EFE y medios asociados (22 de mayo: en español), y The Manila Times (19 de mayo: en inglés).

Gómez, S. (2020, May 22). El chabacano se refina para sobrevivir [Press release]. Agencia EFE. Retrieved from


El uso extendido de inglés y tagalo -originario de la isla de Luzón, la mayor de Filipinas, y adoptado como lengua nacional- está menoscabando el uso de las más de 170 lenguas minoritarias del país, «relegadas a las clases populares, gente mayor y al ámbito familiar», explica a Efe el profesor de español en la Universidad Santo Tomás de Manila, Marco Joven-Romero.

«Pero eso distingue en la actualidad al chabacano, que aunque pierda hablantes, sí goza de cierto estatus social. Ya no es vista como una lengua vulgar porque es criolla española, heredada de la elite cultural clásica», explica este estudioso de los hispanismos en las lenguas filipinas.

El chabacano simplifica la conjugación de los verbos, así como la distinción de género y número, algo que la elite cultural española de la colonia veía como una corrupción vulgar y barriobajera de la lengua cervantina, consideración que ahora está cambiando.


Joven aclara que el chabacano es en realidad una familia de lenguas con variantes como el zamboangueño o chabacano de Zamboanga, el más hablado, pero también existen el cotabateño de Cotabato o el akbay en Davao -versiones extintas en esas ciudades de Mindanao-.

En la isla de Luzón, las variantes del chabacano son el caviteño (en la ciudad de Cavite), ternateño (en el pueblo de Ternate, provincia de Cavite) y el ermiteño (en Ermita, barrio de Manila), cuyo último hablante murió a principios de los 2000.

«Los lingüistas no se ponen de acuerdo en si los hablantes de las diferentes versiones del chabacano se entienden entre ellos. Mi impresión es que se pueden llegar a entender, pero seguramente están más cómodos hablando otra lengua común», indica Joven.

Se cree la primera variante de chabacano nació en la base naval española de Cavite, cercana a Manila, a principios del siglo XVII, entre los trabajadores traídos de México y otras partes de Filipinas que mezclaron sus idiomas con el español del capataz. Muchos de ellos luego emigraron en Zamboanga para construir la fortaleza.

El caviteño conserva tan solo unos 300 hablantes en los barrios de San Roque y Caridad, el casco antiguo de Cavite, aunque la lengua goza de prestigio e integra la identidad cultural de la ciudad.

Más curioso es el caso del ternateño, chabacano con sabor portugués que mantiene unos 3.000 hablantes en la pequeña localidad de Ternate, donde en 1663 se instalaron nativos y mestizos de las islas Molucas -donde España y Portugal reinaron conjuntamente entre 1580 y 1640- tras ser invadidas por Holanda.

La Corona Española cedió ese territorio al suroeste de Luzón a unas 200 familias de las Molucas que se mantuvieron fieles a España e importaron a Filipinas su particular versión del chabacano que aún sobrevive.

Other sources for the same piece of news:

Mojarro, J. (2020, May 19). Father Peláez and his search for justice [Press release]. The Manila Times. Retrieved from

A few weeks ago, I asked Dr. Marco A. Joven-Romero, a Spanish instructor at the University of Santo Tomas, how many streets in Metro Manila carried the name “Peláez.” He is the right person to ask because he is finishing a doctoral dissertation on the history of the toponymy of the streets of Manila. He pointed out three completely irrelevant and hidden streets in Manila, Parañaque and Quezon City. Apart from that, there is a small primary school bearing his name. Nothing else.

Endangered Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Endangered Languages and Territorial Rights: my first entry at the Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. Springer.

Joven-Romero, M.A. (2020). Endangered Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. New York: Springer.

Languages are commonly associated to territories as they are traditionally spoken by communities living in specific places. Nevertheless, languages do relate to speakers and not always to territories.This difference is highlighted by globalization, and more specifically by the increase and new possibilities of migrations, the development of Information and Communication Technologies and the global tendency to learn new foreign languages. This new context calls for direct association between languages and speakers in order to preserve the rights of the latter and the languages themselves. Small minority languages are even more affected by globalization and speakers require globally recognized rights and measures according to their new reality.

Download the whole pdf entry here

Minority Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights

Minority Languages and Territorial Rights: my first entry at the Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. Springer.

Joven-Romero, M.A. (2020). Minority Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. New York: Springer.

Languages are commonly associated to territories as they are traditionally spoken by communities living in specific places. Nevertheless, languages do relate to speakers and not always to territories.This difference is highlighted by globalization, and more specifically by the increase and new possibilities of migrations, the development of Information and Communication Technologies and the global tendency to learn new foreign languages. This new context calls for direct association between languages and speakers in order to preserve the rights of the latter and the languages themselves. Small minority languages are even more affected by globalization and speakers require globally recognized rights and measures according to their new reality.

Download the whole pdf entry here


TV appearance at ‘Charrín Charrán’

Promo ad. Speaking Tagalog and Aragonese:

[English] TV appearance at Charrín Charrán (AragónTV) showing my academic activities and my everyday life in Manila during the Coronavirus crisis, and promo ad in Tagalog and Aragonese [April 26, 2020]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de televisión Charrín Charrán (AragónTV) mostrando mi actividad académica y mi vida diaria en Manila durante la crisis del coronavirus, y anuncio promocional en Tagalo y Aragonés [26 de abril de 2020]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de televisión Charrín Charrán (AragónTV) amostrando a mía actividat academica y a mía vida diaria en Manila mientras a crisi d’o conoravirus, y anuncio promocional en Tagalo y Aragonés [26 d’abril de 2020]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Charrín Charrán (AragónTV). Ipinakita ko ang aking mga akademikong gawain at ang aking pang-araw-araw na buhay sa Maynila sa panahon ng coronavirus, at promo ad sa Tagalog at Aragonese [Abril 26, 2020]

TV appearance at ‘Aragoneses por el Mundo’ Special Coronavirus: Manila

[English] TV appearance at Aragoneses por el Mundo. Special Coronavirus (AragónTV) showing my academic activities and my everyday life in Manila during the Coronavirus crisis [April 25, 2020]

[Español] Aparición en el programa de televisión Aragoneses por el Mundo. Especial Coronavirus (AragónTV) mostrando mi actividad académica y mi vida diaria en Manila durante la crisis del coronavirus [25 de abril de 2020]

[Aragonés] Aparición en o programa de televisión Aragoneses por el Mundo. Especial Coronavirus (AragónTV) amostrando a mía actividat academica y a mía vida diaria en Manila mientras a crisi d’o conoravirus [25 d’abril de 2020]

[Pilipino] Ang pagganap ng aking Aragoneses por el Mundo. Especial Coronavirus (AragónTV). Ipinakita ko ang aking mga akademikong gawain at ang aking pang-araw-araw na buhay sa Maynila sa panahon ng coronavirus [Abril 25, 2020]

You are as special as everyone else. Review of Daniel Bernabé’s “La trampa de la diversidad”

Joven-Romero, M.A. (2020). You are as special as everyone else. [Review of the book La trampa de la diversidad: cómo el liberalismo fragmentó la identidad de la clase trabajadora, by Daniel Bernabé]

Tondol Beach (Pangasinan, The Philippines) is probably the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. Crystal waters, coral sand, palms and a small islet at the end of the landscape. Still virgin with no hotels apart from some humble cottages addressed to the local tourists of the province. A day of 2018 I fled Manila, I arrived there and I found two couples of western foreigners with dreadlocks, the only foreigners apart from myself. While I was having a bath, some poor local children were taking star fish in the shore and were throwing them deep into the water as a matter of game. The foreigners shouted and scolded the children: You are damaging the starfish! A few moments later, the same foreigners were bargaining a meal in a humble local canteen. That meal costed 60 pesos -a bit more than one euro- and they required it to be vegan.  

Some months later, a dumb foreigner was playing and feeding crocodiles with a fishing rod in a crocodile farm, still in the Philippines. He uploaded his stupid video in Facebook and quickly one of his friends replied: That’s not ecofriendly! In her analysis, the friend did not take into account that that crocodile farm fed poor families in the region. Actually, out of the last ten publications of the mentioned friend, two of them were memes or jokes, seven of them were related to ecologism and feminism, and only one of them was related to poverty and inequality associated to Mexican ethnic minorities.

Similarly, ecologists are boycotting diving with whale sharks in Oslob (Cebu, Philippines). But still, in their analysis they do not take into consideration that such activity improved the miserable material conditions of around one thousand people in the area.

January 8, 2020. The #FEMINISM event is taking place in Uptown Mall, Bonifacio Global Center, one of the richest cities in Metro Manila, where there is a luxury you can hardly find in western cities, in contrast to the miserable living conditions of more than half of Manileños. A bunch of young women wearing expensive trendy clothes and hairstyles sing, shout and show the same global feminist mottoes while some local media record the event. Feminist demonstration in March also take place in that city, governed by a counsel of big corporations’ representatives, the same corporations that built the city. At that moment, an anecdote of 2019 while doing some cooperation work in the poor district of Punta came to my mind. There was a young woman with some children and, after a short conversation, we trusted each other. I asked her about feminism, and she admitted having suffered sexism, but in a different way I was expecting. Far from being violent, her husband was lazy, did not work and used his time playing basketball or computer games. He even allowed her to have sexual relations with other men. But she had to work, supply money, do the housework and take care of the children. She confessed that many days she could not sleep. Sexism translated into a material inequality inside a class problem, something mainstream feminism does not pay enough attention.

Being a passionate of multiculturalism and multilingualism, when I came to the Philippines I was excited about the huge diversity of the country, with more than 180 languages. Rapidly I did and I am still doing some linguistic research, as I had previously done with the Aragonese language. But if in the latter case the main parameter to find good informants was the age, in the Philippine case the social class is the parameter to follow: rich people tend to acquire the lingua franca, English, and sometimes they even forget the community language, while poor people preserve it more pure. While researching, another question prompts my mind: Is it really worthy and ethical to work for the preservation of these languages when the real and urgent problem of these people is to improve their material conditions?

Here we arrive to go one of the key ideas printed by Daniel Bernabé in his book “La trampa de la diversidad” [From now on: The Trap of Diversity]. Diversity seems to be a good and even necessary value, especially in contrast to values of systems that try to eliminate it, like fascism. But diversity can be defended and promoted once material conditions are guaranteed for everyone, not before. The same friend who criticized the dumb guy feeding crocodiles with a fishing rod admitted the poverty problem, but she replied: We can and must work on all these causes! Stop thinking about priorities! Life is not about priorities! – I am sorry, but we have limited resources and that makes our lives to be a matter of priorities, and decisions according to these priorities. And our global basic priority must be to guarantee basic material conditions for everybody. Unfortunately, we have reached a point in which people value more their diversities than basic economic conditions for everybody: ecologists take more care about starfish and whale sharks than about poor children, feminists focus in rich women and their gender concerns according to their own economic and social class, same for LGBTI advocates, and multilingualism supporters might defend inequality if that means linguistic preservation.

The trap of diversity does not stop here. It has become so corrupted that it splits society into an infinitum of identities, which may conflict and whose cause is an extended selfishness. A few years ago, a friend’s buddy, a young feminist woman, told my friend in a Facebook discussion: “Revise your privileges”. My friend is a fruit seller that can be perfectly identified with the traditional meaning of working-class member. Even worse: imagine you are a heterosexual, white, omnivore, male and you do not speak any endangered language. Then it seems you must feel both lucky and guilty for being the continuously privileged individual according to this diversity trap. There is no better soil to feed extreme right political options and ideas, as Daniel Bernabé exemplifies at the end of his book. Setting apart personal examples, recent discussions between feminist and LGBTI backers are also good examples.

Furthermore, the irruption of innumerable identities and lifestyles according to sexual, ecological, cultural or aesthetic parameters broadens and creates markets, which are not accessible for everybody. Ecological and vegan products are far more expensive, recently emerged sexual practices and fetishes usually require pricey devices, learning local or global dances or watching trendy TV series require amounts of money not everybody has, as well as taking some Pilates or Bodypump sessions. This markets’ world also influences politics: parties and ideologies are not entities to follow, but just entities the consumer shops according to his moment tendencies. Subsequently, Daniel Bernabé criticizes the use of the trap of diversity neoliberalism: diversity here feeds social and class differences, and it also devalues politics.

David Bernabé points key contemporary social and political issues and he relates them to the trap of diversity. No matter your ideology, it is difficult to be against most of his descriptions. Diversity is a hotspot and at the same time its social handling is challenging. Material conditions are not at the same level but axiomatic, even if the illusory middle-class people do not realize. Social quandary after the Great Recession opens the door to a revision of diversity, a criticism against individualism, a vindication of materialism and universal values, and subsequently, a Marxist analysis and a vindication of socialist solutions. However, if the ideas and the context are appealing and necessary, the way Bernabé argues and gathers his thoughts is disastrous. He continuously jumps from one case to another without linking them together, like if you are listening to your grandpa’s tales. He mixes brilliant paragraphs with unnecessary childish jokes -e.g. references about Clinton’s sexual affairs or Operación Triunfo singers’ quality- and many times he uses logical fallacies or sentences like “It is not the goal of this book … but I shall say …”. Other times, it seems he is just pasting together different parts of previous press articles. In short, while he defends the Modernity project of reaching universal ideals and he criticizes the fuzzy logic of Postmodernity, many times he seems to write a propagandist book addressed to his followers while he could have written a universal piece to be read by anybody, who later on could agree or disagree. He has lost a good opportunity.

But honestly, I do not regret having read Daniel Bernabé’s The Trap of Diversity. Many of its paragraphs -and especially chapter 5 that names the whole book- are brilliant and necessary pieces that make you think for hours about our contemporary circumstances. Even if deficient in form, The Trap of Diversity points to the right and necessary idea: You are as special as everyone else. Bernabé would add: And material conditions are over all. I add: And far from being a trauma, it is liberating.

Minority Languages and Territorial Rights (iii): Languages and ICT

Extract of Minority Languages and Territorial Rights, my first entry at the Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights, to be published soon: discussion on language policies and Information and Communication Technologies.

Joven-Romero, M. A. (Forthcoming 2020). Minority Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. New York: Springer.

Development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) since the 19th century to this day is having a deep impact in all the languages, and more specifically in minority languages, breaking the traditional link between language and territories (Pietikäinen & Kelly-Holmes 2011): once a message is created, it can be sent and received everywhere. These technologies are rather heterogeneous and the main factors for their analysis are the creator of the information herself, the message to be transmitted, the channel of communication and the receiver of the information (Cunliffe & al. 2013; see also ‘Endangered Languages and Territorial Rights’). While in the 19th century the development of these technologies focused on the information transmission between individuals -telegraph and then telephone-, in the 20th century these technologies -radio, television- allowed information diffusion from a few senders to large populations, as written press did before. Mainstream languages were established for those new communication channels, prejudicing the production and the image of minority language for both the speakers’ communities and the non-speakers’ communities. During the 21st century, popularization of the Internet is a challenge: while most of these new channels are initially developed in the mainstream languages, the users are available to create and receive information in their own language. New ICT may be both a factor for the demise of minority languages and for their preservation (De Bot & Stoessel 2002). The irruption of virtual social networks since the mid-2000s -and more recently the popularization of smartphones- increase the possibilities of the speakers and the magnitude of the challenge.

Both creators and receivers of information are usually young people, while most endangered languages speakers are elderly (Edwards 2002). These young people typically speak other mainstream languages (Fleming & Debski 2007) and they use the minority language depending of different factors: language confidence, language use in non-virtual contexts, message to share, target audience and previous presence of the language in the channel. In general terms, the more confident the speaker is, the more he uses the language in the ICTs, and the more the speaker uses the language in non-virtual contexts, the more he uses it in virtual contexts (Cunliffe & al. 2013).

According to the message to be transmitted using the minority language, some topics are more popular. Issues about traditions associated with the community of speakers and discussions about the sociology and the linguistics of the language itself tend to be written in the minority language (Cru 2015). In the case of highly aware people, political discussions usually appear written in the minority language. ICT also spread research and technical contents about the language, like linguistic discussions, interviews, recordings, clips and movies of speakers who often do not have personal presence in these channels -e.g. elderly people. On the contrary, general scientific, global and technical contents are usually written in the mainstream languages as well as messages expected to reach larger audiences. Finally, the more the presence of the minority language in the channel, the more the speaker tends to create contents in the minority language.

The channel also determines the minority language level of use. It is usually said that software developers do not pay enough attention to minority languages and nowadays most of the virtual social networks or mainstream applications do not offer interfaces in these languages (Jones & Uribe-Jongbloed 2012). It is argued that Google does not offer interface and products options in most of the endangered languages while at the same time it created and funded the Endangered Languages Project. Other times they offer several minority languages, but the lack of linguistic adaptation of these languages to the new technologies generates linguistic solutions that are not accepted among the community of speakers.

Target audiences influence the language too (Cunliffe & al. 2013). Most virtual social networks allow for different kind of messages with different target audiences. The user can vary the language of particular messages addressed to different audiences, and she can also use different languages for her status and profile information, elements with different communicative purposes and usually addressed to larger audiences. Some platforms also allow for the creation of specific -sometimes private- groups formed by speakers of the minority language, more popular among activist adults rather than among teenagers and children. In the case of video platforms, the creator can offer subtitles and additional information in different languages.

Apart from the previous elements influencing the use of a minority language in new technologies, ICT allow for migrant speakers to still use their language everywhere (Sallabank 2010; Lanza & Svendsen 2007; Pietikäinen & Kelly-Holmes 2011). That may strengthen the speakers community and the use of the language. ICT also serve as a means for the visibility and promotion of endangered languages among the non-speakers. The development of some language learning applications may also support the preservation of minority languages (Mirza & Sundaram 2017).


Cru J (2015). Language revitalisation from the ground up: promoting Yucatec Maya on Facebook. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 36 (3): 284-296.

Cunliffe D, Morris D, Prys C (2013) Young bilinguals’ language behavior in social networking sites: the use of welsh on Facebook. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 18(3) 339-361.

De Bot K, Stoessel S (2002) Introduction: language change and social networks. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 153: 1-7.

Edwards J. (2010). Minority languages and group identity: Cases and categories. John Benjamins Publishing, Amsterdam.

Fleming A, Debski R (2007) The use of Irish in networked communications: a study of schoolchildren in different language settings. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 28(2): 85-101.

Jones, EHG, Uribe-Jongbloed, E (2012). Social media and minority languages: Convergence and the creative industries. Multilingual Matters, Bristol.

Lanza E, Svendsen BA (2007) Tell me who your friends are and I might be able to tell you what language(s) you speak: social network analysis, multilingualism, and identity. International Journal of Bilingualism 11: 275-300.

Mirza A, Sundaram D (2017) Design and Implementation of Socially Driven Knowledge Management Systems for Revitalizing Endangered Languages. In: Helms et al. (eds) Social Knowledge Management in Action, Knowledge Management and Organizational Learning 3: 147-167.

Pietikäinen S, Kelly-Holmes H (2011) Gifting, service, and performance: three eras in minority-language media policy and practice. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 21(1): 51-70.

Sallabank J (2010) The role of social networks in endangered language maintenance and revitalization: The case of Guernesiais in the Channel Islands. Anthropological Linguistics 52(2): 184-205.

Minority Languages and Territorial Rights (ii): Languages and Migrations

Extract of Minority Languages and Territorial Rights, my first entry at the Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights, to be published soon: discussion on language policies and migrations.

Joven-Romero, M. A. (Forthcoming 2020). Minority Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. New York: Springer.

Migrations affect the origin community, the destination community and the very migrants, and it may affect the origin community languages, the destination community languages and the very migrants languages (Lewis 1982, Britain 2002). With reference to the migrants influence, two different migrations can be distinguished: one in which the migrant community is bigger or more powerful than the destination community, and the other one in which the migrant community constitutes a minority, many times in a weaker position in comparison with the already established community. In the former case, the language of the migrant community may become the main one, as it happened in most American countries with Spanish and English. In the latter case, it may vanish and disappear in a few generations, as it is happening with Galician language in Argentina or the Italian language in the USA. In both cases, three different kind of factors describe the migrations and their linguistic consequences: spatial, temporal and socio-cultural factors (Kerswill 2006).

Long distance migrations were traditionally associated with lifelong migrations, but as means of transport become faster and cheaper, that is not longer the case. Spanish, English, French and Dutch colonizers of America migrated for a very long -even lifelong- time, while nowadays many European people go to America just for holidays. On the contrary, short distance migrations traditionally allowed for the maintenance of linguistic and cultural ties. With regard to minority languages, they are usually associated with rural areas and during the rural exodus of the 20th and 21st centuries many of their speakers are moving to bigger towns and cities to study and to work. Many of the Aragonese speakers located in the Aragonese Pyrenees move from their small villages to the head of the regions for their High School, where they sometimes commute while other times they stay in the new town. The same speakers may move to bigger cities like Huesca, Zaragoza or even Madrid and Barcelona -where they cannot commute anymore- for higher training or work (Reyes et al. 2017). As people get older, migration pressure increases, such migration points to further distances, links with the original rural area vanish, the native language is no longer used in the new localities and in many cases it is only recovered during the summer or winter holidays. Sometimes the migrant community settle in particular districts or areas of the bigger heads and cities, forming their own districts, suburbs or ghettos, where the language may still remain, as it happened with Jewish languages in different European countries over different times.

From a linguistic point of view, migrations also cause diglossic processes in which the different languages adopt characteristics of the others, what may also cause the emergence of new creole languages and pidgins. Jewish languages like Yiddish or Judaeo-Spanish are examples. If different varieties of the same language merge, natural dialect leveling or koineization into a simplified variety happens (Trudgill 1986, 127; Kerswill and Williams 2000). So far, when the inhabitants of the different deep Aragonese valleys moved into the south plains during the Reconquista, a quite homogeneous Aragonese koine emerged (Conte et al. 1977).

Temporal factors are strongly related with the spatial ones, but this correlation is weakening as means of transport are increasingly faster and cheaper. Migrations may have different duration and four different categories are usually listed: daily, periodic, seasonal and long term migrations (Gould and Prothero 1975, cited in Kerswill 2006). Daily migrations are cyclical and they do not suppose overnight stays. Such direct steady contact between different languages or dialects may play a fundamental role in linguistic leveling processes (Trudgill 1983). Periodic migrants move from their origin places for a short period of time establishing weak contacts with the destination community. They often circulate by various places and countries for short periods. This kind of migration favors the establishment of a lingua franca, like English in Western countries or Tagalog -and also English- inside the Philippines, damaging the image of local minority languages. Business workers, researchers or tourists are some examples of periodic migrants. Seasonal migrants stay for months or years in the destination place with the intention of returning. Romanian migrants-speakers in Aragon were a few hundred in 2001, to increase to almost 70.000 in 2013 and then decrease to less than 50.000 in 2016. Some of these seasonal migrants may change their mind and stay in the destination place becoming long-term migrants, like many Turkish people living in Germany. Long-term migrants often leave their origin place without the intention of returning, as many European migrants who went to the USA in the 19th and 20th centuries did, or many Occitan people moving from rural areas to cities like Toulouse or Paris. While seasonal migrants are likely to preserve their language and pass it into their children, many long-term migrants forget it and the minority language disappears in one or a few generations.

Socio-cultural factors may explain why some minority languages remain while others do disappear when presenting similar temporal and territorial contexts (Sallabank 2010; Edwards 2010). According to these factors, the relationship of the migrants with the destination community can be classified into segregation or participation relations. Segregation spirit in migrating groups is a factor for the conservation of their origin -and now minority- language. That is the case of German language of Amish and Mennonites communities in North America (Coleman 1997). Participation does not necessarily suppose the lost of the minority language, although its weaker position may demand special measures for its preservation. Furthermore, a difference between voluntary migrations and forced migrations, like the one of refugees, can be made. In the latter case, groups are more likely to develop a deep sense of pride towards their origins.


Britain D (2002) Space and spatial diffusion. In: Chambers JK, Trudgill P, Schilling-Estes N (eds) The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Oxford University Press, p. 603-637.

Coleman DA (1997). The origins of multi-cultural societies and the problems of their management under democracy. In: Proceedings of the 23rd International Population Conference, Beijing 1997, Vol 3. Presses Universitaires de Liege.

Conte A, Cortes Ch, Martínez A, Nagore F, Vázquez Ch (1977). El aragonés: problemática e identidad de una lengua. Librería General de Zaragoza.

Edwards J. (2010). Minority Languages and Group Identity: Cases and Categories. John Benjamins Publishing.

Gould WTS & Pothero RM (1975). Space and time in African population mobility. In: Kosinski LA, Pothero RM (eds) People on the Move: Studies on Internal Migration. Methuen.

Kerswill P (2006). Migration and language. In: Mattheler K, Ammon U and Trudgill P (eds) Sociolinguistics/Soziolinguistik. An International Handbook of the Science of Language and Society, 2nd ed, vol 3. De Gruyter.

Kerswill P & Williams A (2000). Mobility and social class in dialect leveling: evidence from new and old town in England. In: Mattheler K (ed) Dialect and Migration in a Changing Europe. Peter Lang Publishing, p 1-13.

Lewis GL (1982). Human Migration: A Geographical Perspective. Palgrave-Macmillan.

Reyes A, Gimeno Ch, Montañés M, Sorolla N, Espluga P, Martínez JP (2017). L’aragonés o lo catalán en l’actualidat. Analisi d’o Censo de Población y Viviendas de 2011. Available via Zaguan.

Sallabank J (2010) The role of social networks in endangered language maintenance and revitalization: The case of Guernesiais in the Channel Islands. Anthropological Linguistics 52(2): 184-205.

Trudgill P (1983). On Dialect: Social and Geographical Perspectives. Oxford University Press.

Minority Languages and Territorial Rights (i): Questioning the Territory-Language Link

Introduction of Minority Languages and Territorial Rights, my first entry at the Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights, to be published soon.

Joven-Romero, M. A. (Forthcoming 2020). Minority Languages and Territorial Rights. Global Encyclopedia of Territorial Rights. New York: Springer.

Abstract: Languages are commonly associated to territories as they are traditionally spoken by communities living in specific places. Nevertheless, languages do relate to speakers and not always to territories. This difference is highlighted by globalization, and more specifically by new possibilities for migrations, by the development of Information and Communication Technologies and by the global tendency to learn new foreign languages.

This new context calls for direct association between languages and speakers in order to preserve the rights of the latter and the languages themselves. Small minority languages are even more affected by globalization and speakers require globally recognized rights and measures according to their new reality.

Questioning Territory-Language Link

Languages are commonly associated to territories. They are usually spoken in specific territories and, in a more legal sense, they may be official or recognized by political entities associated with territories (May 2012). In this sense, most languages get their names from the places where they are spoken or where they originated. It is said that Icelandic is the language of Iceland. It is also claimed that Spanish -or Castilian- is the language of Spain, although it is also the official or common language in other 21 countries, it is not the only language of Spain and it did not originate in the whole Spain.

Nevertheless, languages do not belong to territories but to speakers, and the previous link language-territory have some counterparts (Pavlenko 2011; Heller and Duchêne 2007). While stating that Nepali and Tibetan are the languages of both sides of the Mount Everest, it is difficult to imagine Nepali or Tibetan being continuously spoken in the top of the Everest. Nomad tribes like Tuareg people move around vast spaces but their languages are not continuously spoken in such territories. Their languages are more prone to receive the name of the speakers’ tribe rather than the one of the territory -although these different categories may mix and the vast territory may receive the name of the tribe too. Some languages belong to peoples spread on different regions where other languages already established, developing minority groups along vast territories. That would be the case of the Romani languages spoken by Gypsy communities especially around Europe and Asia.

In spite of the previous rebuttals, the traditional link language-territory have been accepted and used. However, globalization processes deeply challenge this relationship and three factors must be taken into account: migrations, Information and Communication Technologies and the growing popularity of learning languages. None of these factors is strictly new. Many huge migrations happened over the history, many languages moved and new ones appeared. Celtic and Latin languages spread over Europe, and European -and even African- languages arrived to America. Nowadays migrations are increasing and the development of transport means and networks offers new temporal and territorial dimensions. Information and Communication Technologies find their forerunners in old post services, but during the 20th and 21th centuries they have become faster, more accessible and they are offering more functionalities: from the old post services to virtual social networks, people not only receive but also produce more and more information and it is possible to instantaneously share it with vast communities all over the world in a cheaper and faster manner. Telegraph, radio, phone and television are also milestones in this evolution. Finally, learning languages is something popular by more and more people and most educational systems introduce the instruction of at least one foreign language.

The challenges towards the link between languages and territories are even deeper in the case of small minority languages. For these languages, migrations and social networks are critical, and their teaching and learning present different contexts, with weaker human and material resources, and with fewer but highly motivated students. Information and Communication Technologies, and especially virtual social networks where the speakers can obtain and provide written material, may play a very positive role in its preservation, but at the same time the pressure of mainstream languages in these platforms may have a negative influence.

It must be noted that minority languages and endangered languages are not the same even when they usually correlate. Some minority languages are not endangered, as it is the case of the Sentinelese language, native language of the Sentinelese tribe with some 100-250 estimated speakers living in North Sentinel island who reject any kind of contact with the outside world and modern civilization. This community and some other groups in the Amazon or Papua New Guinea jungles are very small but at the same time they remain stable and there is not any imminent serious danger against them and their languages. Similarly, some endangered languages are not minority languages, as it happens with some Chinese languages spoken by millions of people but disappearing owing to the pressure of Mandarin Chinese. Furthermore, a specific language may be a minority or endangered language or not depending on the analyzed territory. Spanish in neither an endangered nor a minority language in general terms, but if we focus in the Philippines, then it is both an endangered and a minority language.

In the three following sections, I address the relationship between minority languages and territories with regard to the new context provided by globalization, and more specifically, by migrations, new Information and Communication Technologies and language learning.


Heller, M. & Duchêne, A. (2007) Discourses of endangerment: Sociolinguistics, globalization and social order. Discourses of endangerment: Ideology and interests in he defence of languages. London: Continuum, pp. 1-13.

May, S. (2012) Language and minority rights: Ethnicity, nationalism and the politics of language. London: Routledge.

Pavlenko, A. (2011) Language rights versus speakers’ rights: on the applicability of Western languages rights approaches in Eastern European contexts. Language Policy 10: 37-58.

[Review translation] Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine

[English] My last translation at Revista Filipina: a review of Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine (Ige Ramos, 2018), made by Ambeth Ocampo.

[Español] Mi última traducción en Revista Filipina: una reseña de Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine (Ige Ramos, 2018), escrita por Ambeth Ocampo.

[Aragonese] A mía zaguera traducción en Revista Filipina: una reseña de Republic of Taste: The Untold Stories of Cavite Cuisine (Ige Ramos, 2018), feita por Ambeth Ocampo.

Some notes for the current study of Papia Kristang, the Portuguese creole of Malacca

Clip 1. Elderly fishermen talking in Papia Kristang and about Papia Kristang.

[English] Papia Kristang or Portugues di Melaka is a Portuguese creole language originated in Malacca (Malaysia) and mainly spoken by a few hundred people in its Portuguese Settlement, even though there is a smaller community of speakers in Singapore and some isolated speakers in other cities due to recent migrations. Here I offer some clues for its current study after a two-day exploration in Malacca.

[Aragonese] Papia Kristang u Portugues di Melaka ye una luenga criolla portuguesa naixida de Malacca (Malasia) y fablada más que más por bells centenars de personas en o suyo Bico Portugués, encara que bi ha una comunidat chicota de fablants en Singapur y bells fablants isolaus en atras ciudatz debiu a migracions. Aquí ufro una serie de claus t’o suyo estudio actual dimpués d’una exploración de dos diyas en Malacca.

[Español] Papia Kristang o Portugues di Melaka es una lengua criolla surgida en Malacca (Malasia) y hablada por unos cientos de personas en su Barrio Portugués, aunque hay una comunidad pequeña de hablantes en Singapur y algunos hablantes aislados en otras ciudades debido a migraciones. Aquí ofrezco una serie de claves para su estudio actual después de una exploración de dos días en Malacca.

Papia Kristang or Portugues di Melaka is a Portuguese creole language originated after the Portuguese invasion of Malacca in 1511. Even when the Portuguese rule in Malacca ended with the Dutch conquest in 1641, this Portuguese creole have been spoken and preserved by a mestizo community until today (Wong 2017). Different sources state its number of speakers somewhere in the range between a few hundred (Baxter 2005) to more than two thousand people (Bradley 2007). Most of the Kristang community moved to a neighborhood today known as Portuguese Settlement in the 1930s and I did my research there on September 26 and 27, 2019. Here I offer some clues for its current study. I especially thank a 73 year old local singer and fisherman named Necles who helpfully provided me with a lot information and introduced me into the community.

Place description

The Portuguese Settlement of Malacca comprises family houses along a few streets -Pitchay, Albuquerque, Texeira, Squera, Daranjo, Eredia- that converge into the main coastal square or Medan Portugis with some Portuguese restaurants, meeting point for fishermen during the morning and quite lively during the weekend nights. Around 1.500 people live in the neighborhood (Nunes 2017a). Kristang community moving to this compact area in the 1930s helped their cohesion and language preservation.

Kristang vs. Continental Portuguese

Some people inform that Portuguese tourists sometimes come to the place and they try to establish a Kristang-Portuguese communication: locals find the Portuguese continental language «deep» and sometimes «difficult», but at the same time they affirm that they can «establish communication» and «understand».

Some of the young Kristang people I interviewed learned and fluently spoke continental Portuguese language. They affirm that their previous knowledge of Kristang, some language applications and other on-line resources helped them.

Generational transmission

I found a good level of language generational transmission. Middle age and young people generally speak Kristang to a certain extent and they are proud of it, although sometimes they were not as skilled as elderly people and some other times they mixed continental Portuguese with proper Kristang. I also found quite a number of Kristang elderly people who did not speak the creole.

Elderly people were more open to be recorded than young people, who were more reluctant. It must be said that I only stayed in the Portuguese Settlement for two days and that I knew no one before arriving.

Name of the language

Speakers prefer their language to be named Portuguese and not Kristang. The latter refers to the Christian religion, and even if the Kristang community is mainly Christian, that is not necessarily the case. However, among themselves they mainly use the names Kristang and Papia Kristang.

Papia Kristang literally means Speak Christian. The use of the communicative action -i.e. speak– as the name of the language is something rather common among endangered languages -e.g. Fabla aragonesa for the Aragonese language, Bable asturianu for the Asturian language- and it may contribute to its discredit.

Sometimes when talking about the language, speakers state «I am Portuguese». I do not know if they wanted to say «I speak Portuguese» or literally «I am Portuguese». However, I did not dig into it as dealing with identity issues was not my purpose.

Lingua franca

Kristang was not used as the lingua franca in the Portuguese Settlement. Interestingly, the main language used for common communication was English and not Bahasa Melayu, usually the common language in the rest of the city (Nunes 2017a, 2017b). Even elderly people who do not speak Kristang talk in English rather than Bahasa Melayu and Kristang’s population English skills seemed to be higher than the rest of Malacca´s population English level. The shift into English was reinforced during weekend nights with the arrival of Taiwanese and Singaporean tourists to the coastal square.

Connection with other Latin languages

All the young people interviewed not only vindicated Portuguese but their general Latin connection. They were especially interested in Spanish music and even when that is something common everywhere in our days, I could find people listening and playing Spanish music different from the main Latin hits: Gypsy Kings, Los Chunguitos or Camarón.

Clip 2. A young Kristang speaker interested in non-mainstream Spanish music.


Baxter, A. N. (2005). Kristang (Malacca Creole Portuguese): a long-time survivor seriously endagered. Sociolinguistc Studies 6(1): 1-37. 

Bradley, D. (2007). East and Southeast Asia. Atlas of the World’s Languages. London: Routledge.

Nunes, M. P. (2017a). The use of Kristang in the Portuguese settlement of Malacca. Journal of Modern Languages, 12(1): 147-156.

Nunes, M. P. (2017b). Portuguese folklore sung by Malaccan Kristang groups and the issue of decreolization. Journal of Modern Languages, 13(1): 149-161.

Wong, K.M. (2017). Bos Papiah Kristang? (Do You Speak Kristang?): A Eurasian Linguistic Legacy. Singapore Euroasians: Memories, Hopes and Dreams: 369-379.