I once had this left-field idea to check out the state of Europe's small languages and multilingual regions. I climbed on my touring bike and set out south-eastward in 2011. I kept up a blog whenever in the following summers I tagged on for a few hundred or thousand kilometres. In the Gallery above you can admire some few of the many signs I passed by.
15'000 km and 7 years later I had completed my trek around 80+ European language regions. I produced an illustrated travel book as an iBook publication, which appeared in 2017. The blurb follows below.
A cycling linguist’s travelogue
languages are spoken in Europe? And how do people live in them? What makes
languages come alive? The author sets out on a quest to traverse, on an ordinary touring bicycle, all the language regions of
Europe and to be especially attentive to minority languages, multilingual
situations and language border areas. He cycles from Scotland to Istanbul and
from the Arctic Circle to Malta (ok, taking the odd ferry once in a while) to
explore the linguistic landscapes of this historically rich continent, covering
15,000 km over six years. Oh yes, and there are some mishaps too, such as a
fall off the bike on Tallinn’s wet tram rails.
Have you ever heard of Cimbrian or Sorbian? Ever wondered how the citizens of war-torn Bosnia talk to each other today? Or whether a Finn can understand a speaker of Estonian or Hungarian?
This account of dozens of encounters with diverse people along the roadside makes for lively reading. The photo galleries, audios and videos allow the reader to relive a journey of a lifetime. The travelogue is complemented by extra pages of linguistic curios, language portraits and the alphabet of an adventurous tour, from ‘Allee’ to ZZZ.
A rough map shows the various yearly trips, usually in the heat of mid-summer.