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Senate House Library

The Life of Languages - Celebrating European Day of Languages


Written by
Research Collections

Over 250 languages are spoken across 44 countries in Europe and to promote this diversity of languages throughout the continent, an annual ‘European Day of Languages’, is celebrated on 26 September.

At Senate House Library we continuously develop our language collections to reflect the many languages read and spoken within Europe. We have a large selection of literature in original and translation as well as secondary sources to consult. The language and linguistics sections have over 50,000 items on open access, forming a rich collection of works in and on Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages.

To celebrate European Day of Languages we are sharing some of our most recent language acquisitions, showing the variety of languages we collect but also the many cultural, political and even emotional lives languages take on.

Languages after Brexit: How the UK Speaks to the World

Michael Kelly brings together a fascinating collection of essays on the impacts of Brexit on language. The book considers how knowledge of foreign languages will be an essential component in the formation of new commercial and cultural relations in the event of the UK’s exit from the European Union. It discusses the presence of language capabilities within the UK and how their existence or lack of them could impact the UK’s international position post-referendum, making it a worthwhile read for scholars, students, policy makers and educators alike. See Languages after Brexit: how the UK speaks to the world / Michael Kelly.

Migrant letters: emotional language, mobile identities, and writing practices in historical perspective

Edited by Marcelo J. Borges and Sonia Cancian, the authors analyse the experience of migration and its expression in letter writing across the world and across historical periods. The letters touch on a variety of themes including identity, family and gender bringing us closer to the lived emotional experience of those leaving their homes for a new life. See Migrant letters : emotional language, mobile identities, and writing practices in historical perspective / edited by Marcelo J. Borges and Sonia Cancian

Mystical Islam and cosmopolitanism in contemporary German literature: openness to alterity

This book by Joseph Twist analyses the work of four contemporary German writers of Muslim background and their reactions to the contested position of Muslims in German society. The chosen writers all draw on the tradition of mystical Islam and its potential to construct a more experimental spirituality providing a link to a more diverse and ambiguous Islamic past. Twist discusses how German Muslim writers use this tradition to carve out a space for debating their cosmopolitan identities beyond the confines of fundamentalist religious and nationalist positioning. See Mystical Islam and cosmopolitanism in contemporary German literature : openness to alterity / Joseph Twist.

Slav Sisters: The Dedalus Book of Russian Women’s Literature

This English Pen Award winning anthology of translated short stories gives a glimpse into the literary activities of women writing in Russian during the twentieth century. As was often the case, women’s writing was historically ignored or outright discouraged in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Women’s experiences, concerns and inner worlds were not considered worthy of being voiced. This anthology returns these women to their deserved place in the history of literature with a broad selection of authors, ranging from famous writers like Anna Akhmatova to only recently rediscovered ones such as Nadezhda Teffi, whose formerly banned books were only published in the 1990s. See Slav Sisters: The Dedalus Book of Russian Women’s Literature.

These four newly published books are only a few of the many books that join the collection of over 50,000 items in the languages collection of Senate House Library. Discover the history of languages through early printed books in our Special Collections and contemporary writings in the wider Research Collections here at Senate House Library.

About the authors

Andrea Meyer Ludowisy, Librarian (Institute of Germanic & Romance Studies and Western Languages) and Argula Rublack, Library Assistant, Metadata Team