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Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages

Home Sectors Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages


Language is fundamental to the rich and varied culture, and diverse heritages, of the BIC’s eight Member Administrations.

The British-Irish Council Work Sector on Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages (IML) focuses on nine such languages spoken across these islands: Cornish, Gaelic, Guernesiais, Irish, Jèrriais, Manx, Scots, Ulster-Scots, and Welsh.

Each IML language has its own characteristics in terms of the number of speakers and the extent of ordinary social use. Coming together in this Work Sector allows to share good practice and experience. This in turn can be a real source of inspiration to BIC administrations, while nurturing productive new connections and relationships with others in the same field.

Lead Administration

The IML Work Sector was established in 2009 and is chaired by the Welsh Government.

Current Focus

The current Forward Work Plan was agreed in October 2023, at a Ministerial meeting hosted by the Govt of Jersey.  The current focus is:

  • Social Use of Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages
  • Linguistic Infrastructure
  • Culture

In 2023, to mark the 25th Anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, a poetry anthology – inspired by natural landscape – was developed in collaboration with the IML Work Sector, including poems from the BIC’s IML languages. The anthology was featured at both summits in 2023, in Jersey and Dublin.

In recent years, the work sector has partnered with the Celtic Media Festival, most recently in June 2024 with a panel event exploring the theme ‘Livelihoods & Language: Making Your Living, Where You’re Living’.


Spotify Playlist: here

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Indigenous, Minority and Lesser-Used Languages Resources

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