Welcome to Linguis Europae, the EUC's language blog!

Linguis Europae is dedicated to a range of topics involving official state, regional, and minority languages in the EU. Posts are written in five languages by UI students and faculty! Check back regularly for updates!

Karelian: Caught Between the Father- and the Motherland

Linguistics PhD student Walther Glodstaf discusses the status of Karelian, a language spoken around the region of lakes Ladoga and Onega in what is now primarily Russia and Finland.

When Borders Overlap: Spanish and Moroccan in Melilla

Camila Martinica (BA in Global Studies, 2022) looks at the history behind the trilingual nature of Melilla, an autonomous city of Spain located on the Moroccan border.

French and Tamil in Pondicherry-South India

Maithreyi Parthasarathy (BA in Linguistics, expected 2023) writes about Pondicherry, a "mini France" located on the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent.

Italian in Puerto Rico? Exploring Italian and Corsican Immigration to Southern Puerto Rico

Erin Trybulec, an MA student in Hispanic Linguistics, shares findings from her ongoing research project on the influence of Italian and Corsican immigration on Puerto Rico's linguistic landscape during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Preservation and History of the Karaites’ Identities in Poland

by Julia Gainski 

Julia Gainski is a senior in Integrative Biology and German Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Julia's future plans include traveling, applying to physician assistant programs, and learning new languages. She wrote this blog post in 418 'Language and Minorities in Europe' in Fall 2021.

Poland has struggled time after time to survive as its borders consistently shifted due to unlawful rulers that have come to power. From Germany’s occupation of Poland in the Second World War to Poland being under Communist rule, Poland’s resilience, and ability to uphold their traditions, culture, and religion in the midst of dark times has shown the irrepressible strength that Poland portrays. Undoubtedly, Poland was drastically affected by these historical events and as a result, ethnic minorities have been further divided and impacted as well. There are four ethnic minorities that exist in Poland today which are: Karaim, Lemko, Romani and Tatar. The Karaites are the smallest ethnic minority that exist in Poland today. This blog post will explore the Karaites’ history, culture, discrepancy of their origins, present effort of preservation of their identities in Poland, and the current status and population of Karaites in Poland today.

Image Credit: Bektur, via Wikimedia Commons.

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The Karaites speak Karaim which is a Turkic language with Hebrew influences. They are descendants of the Crimean Karaites and follow the Karaite Judaism religion, which emerged from Judaism in the 8th century. The Karaites rejected the central Jewish interpretation of the Tanakh and therefore split off from Judaism. “Karaimi” is the specific Polish name that denotes the Karaites that live in Poland. Many Karaites immerse themselves in writing about science, culture, and religious dissertations. Karaites are known for their conservativeness and cleanliness, especially their clean kitchens. Also, within the Karaite community, “uncle” and “auntie” are warmhearted and compassionate terms used to describe older people who are not related by blood.

Ethnologists divide Karaites into three groups in accordance with their roots from the Crimea, Kuban Cossacks, or Muslim countries. There is large controversy surrounding the matter of the descendants of Crimean Karaites as ethnologists have conjured different theories. One hypothesis speaks to the idea of their Jewish ancestors arriving to the Crimean Peninsula, which was Khazar-ruled at the time, not long after their break from Judaism. Around the 8th century, the Jewish ancestors prospered with their attempts to spread Karaism to the Khazar people which consequently became integrated in their society along with the Kipchaks and they came to the Crimea in the 10th century.

Image Credit: Участник, via Wikimedia Commons.

                          License available here



Another hypothesis revolves around the idea that all three Karaites have distinct origins with no overlap. With that, the Polish Karaites generally believe that they do not share any ties with the Jewish people from the Middle East and therefore only give recognition to the Turkic provenance. The ethnogenesis of the Polish Karaites is a long and convoluted topic with several complex hypotheses. Many deliberate that these hypotheses were in result of the anti-Semitic stereotypes that were prominently spreading in Europe during the 19th-century. To this day, there is still no definitive answer or prominent traces of the Polish Karaites.

However, it is well known that the arrival of the Crimean Karaites in Poland and Lithuania stemmed from the extended invitation made by Prince Vytautas in the 14th century. The prince asked them to settle in Trakai and it is speculated that Prince Vytautas needed a new loyal group of close collaborators to serve as his protectors. Many Karaites gained an entrance into his inner circle as they became members of his court and went beyond serving as bodyguards and additionally served other important roles like being doctors, accountants, and translators. These higher positions were an underlying indicator that they gained entitlement within their administration and regions outside of Trakai.

Progressing from the 14th century to the 20th century, the Polish borders were drastically altered and the Karaites were divided because of Germany’s invasion of Poland in World War II. From 1938 to 1944, Nazi Germany was faced with the question on whether the Karaites are of Jewish descent and if they should be regarded in the same manner as Jews. Despite this, many Karaites died in the Holocaust. After the war, the Karaites were outside of Poland’s borders and shifted west.

In addition to the tremendous dramatic impacts of World War II and shifts in borders, assimilation poses a tremendous hurdle as Karaites strive to preserve their identity, religion, and culture. It is difficult to gather information of Karaites in Poland as they are dispersed all throughout the country. The combination of the Karaites having a very small community and being distributed throughout the country makes it very difficult to have Karaite reunions or conduct teachings on the Karaites. Despite these obstacles, the Karaite community continues to prevail in the face of difficult divides and circumstances. In Trakai, Lithuania, a kenesa and a wooden house on Karaim Street is a remnant of the Karaite architecture and is one of the few places to exist that preserves typical Karaite houses and is the place where Polish Karaites have reunions in the summers where they can reconnect with their families and ancestors.

Image Credit: Jerzy Strzelecki, via Wikimedia Commons

         License available here

Today, Polish Karaites’ descendants are post-war repatriates, and it is estimated that there are around 100 Karaites living in Poland, which places them as the smallest out of the four total ethnic minorities to exist in Poland. With that, the largest group of the Polish Karaites, which is around 40, live in Warsaw. When determining the Karaite population in Poland and when people answer the National Population and Housing Census, it is important to understand that people answer based on how they feel about their roots. Regarding the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Poland ratified it on February 12, 2009, and became the twenty-fourth state of the Council of Europe to support the charter. Poland has formally recognized fifteen languages, four of which are ethnic minority languages: Karaim, Lemko, Romani and Tatar. In addition, the document establishes Karaim as a non-territorial language.

The resilience and strength of the Karaites has demonstrated that even dramatic impacts such as war, border shifts, and assimilation cannot prevent them from continuing to preserve and uphold valuable traditions that keep their community united.

References

Oleksiak, Wojciech. “The Disputed Origins of Poland's Smallest Ethnic Minority.” Culture.pl, Culture.pl, 23 July 2015, https://culture.pl/en/article/the-disputed-origins-of-polands-smallest-ethnic-minority.

Rostkowska, Agnieszka. “The Karaites: Poland's Forgotten Ethnic Minority.” Przekrój Magazine, Przekrój, 21 July 2021, https://przekroj.pl/en/society/the-karaites-polands-forgotten-ethnic-minority.

Troskovaite, Dovile. (2013). Identity in Transition: The Case of Polish Karaites in the First Half of the 20th Century. Codrul Cosminului. 19. 207-228. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286057073_Identity_in_Transition_The_Case_of_Polish_Karaites_in_the_First_Half_of_the_20th_Century

“Poland Ratifies European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.” Nationalia, CIEMEN, 25 Feb. 2009, https://www.nationalia.info/new/8870/poland-ratifies-european-charter-for-regional-or-minority-languages.

Feferman, Kiril. “Nazi Germany and the Karaites in 1938–1944: between Racial Theory and Realpolitik.” Nationalities Papers, vol. 39, no. 2, 2011, pp. 277–294., doi:10.1080/00905992.2010.549468. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/nationalities-papers/article/abs/nazi-germany-and-the-karaites-in-19381944-between-racial-theory-and-realpolitik/45E3DB5BC65211106249DC5A70932F2B

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Why Don’t Russians “Want” to Learn English?

by Giovana Mete

Giovana Mete is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois and majored in Psychology and Spanish. Giovana is currently working as an addiction’s counselor at Nicasa Behavioral Health Services. Her plans include attending Trinity International University this fall for a Master’s in Mental Health Counseling. Her goal is to become a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. She wrote this blog post in 418 'Language and Minorities in Europe' in Fall 2021.

In this blog, I will explore the motivations for Russian citizens to learn the English language in their home country. I will focus on the lack of English usage in Russia with an emphasis on the barriers to learning English in comparison to other countries - the barriers to learning English include a variety of historical and social factors. I will be asking the questions, “Why do most Russians (81%) only speak their mother tongue while the rest of Europe seems to be learning English (BBC, 2014)? What are the motivations to learn English in Russia? What are the barriers to learning English? Why aren’t more Russians using English as a lingua franca (LF)?”

In Russia and beyond, the Russian language is used as a LF as it is “the most geographically widespread language in all of Eurasia and it’s the most popular native language in Europe.” There are around 138 million Russian speakers in Russia, “followed [...] by Ukraine (14.3 million), Belarus (6.9 million), Poland (6.9 million) and Kazakhstan (3.8 million) [and]... among first languages, Russian accounts for 2.3 percent of the global population in Europe'' (Babel, 2021). Sharing the same language makes it significantly easier to communicate across these countries.

Although Russian is widely used in Eastern Europe, English is not very common in Russia as only 11 percent of Russians speak English. Regardless of this small percentage, English is still the second most popular language in Russia (Sorokina, 2017). According to the EF English Proficiency Index, Russia received a moderate score in comparison to 100 other countries and regions. Russia is on the lower end of English proficiency in Europe (EF Epi). It makes sense that Russians would not be learning English as there are more Russian (221 million) than English speakers in Eastern Europe (212 million) (Babel, 2021).

Source: https://englishrussia.com/images/newpictures/Foreign-celebrities-in-Russian-ads/0019a3fb9b7331ca1115539db2a262a7_full.jpg

There are different reasons for the use of Russian as a LF; one argument is that Russian needs to be used to communicate in learning minority languages in Russia. Minority languages are dying and some groups in Russia want to revive their own national languages by teaching them in school. Since they live in Russia, and speak Russian, it furthers the need to use Russian as a LF in order to learn the minority languages. The Russkiy Mir foundation states, “world experience shows that getting rid of a lingua franca is not always an easy task and is certainly not always an essential one” (Russian, 2008).

One significant reason Russian is a LF in Eastern Europe is due to Russia’s strong zone influence after Germany lost most of its power in Eastern Europe in WWII. The Germans lost the War on the Eastern Front and lost control of Poland - Russia gained more power and influence in Eastern Europe including the Slavic country of Poland. Once the US realized the Soviet Union’s goal for “target(ing) large Russian-speaking populations in Eastern Partnership states with propaganda [...] to turn them against Western institutions'' the US lacked trust again as well as Eastern Europe; Russia’s “willingness to [...] military power against its neighbors has often alienated those who might otherwise align themselves with Russia rather than the EU culturally or economically” (Bond, 2017).

During the existence of the Soviet Union people were encouraged not to speak with foreigners. Even as the Soviet Union ended and Russia became much more open, they were still accustomed to their previous way of life. Many Russians have not traveled beyond the border of the former Soviet Union, so they were not forced to learn another form of communication.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US-Russian relationship was restored until 2014 when Russia rejected the agreed upon bipartisan strategy to further cooperation on global issues and increase foreign investments and trade. The US helped Russia join many institutions to ensure security, but Russia did not cooperate. In 2014, Russia attacked Ukraine and the US stopped the Bilateral Presidential Commission as well as their partnership with Russia; the country was aggressive with Georgia and Ukraine as well as competing with the US. Russia’s goal was to disrupt NATO and the EU as well as make the democratic system look bad (US, 2021). The US and Russia were back to square one with their different colliding ideologies: communism vs capitalism (Lefaucheurc, 2018). So, it makes sense that today, Russians still do not want much to do with the US as many Russians do not approve of the American ideology and vice versa.

Americans still hold negative views of Russians in day-to-day life which demonstrates the long-lasting impact of US-Russian relations and highlights one of the main reasons Russians do not feel the need to learn English. In a research study, Americans were asked to rank their sentiment towards the Russian country and Russian citizens from 0 (cold, unfavorable) to 100 (warm, favorable). As one would expect, during the time periods that Russian and US governments had good relations, Americans ranked Russia and Russian people as more favorable. However, in 2020, they received a ranking of about 29 which is towards the lower end meaning more unfavorable (Smeltz, 2021). Not only do typical Americans often hold negative views towards Russians, but Americans are often cautious since they have been taught to believe that Russians can be spies and should be wary of their questionable behavior. A Russian man living in the US said, “People would see a young and beautiful Russian woman working in a prestigious position and instantaneously conclude she is employed by Russian intelligence. I don’t say these things from movies, but from real life and real [people]'' (Abel, 2017). This shows that common Americans hold unfavorable views about Russia and that there is a stigma surrounding typical Russian people.

Until more recently, there was not much of a practical use for Russians to learn English as they were politically, economically, and scientifically powerful and independent. The Russian language is still necessary for Russia as a LF for scientific reasons; for example, it would be very difficult for Russian scientists to switch to English as all their scientific communication is already in Russian and can communicate with a wide variety of Eastern European countries scientifically. Also, for other national groups in Russia such as the Khakas (Turkish indigenous people of Siberia), it would also be difficult to switch to English or Turkish. Changing languages often requires a more necessary and intentional reason than simply having the desire to work with more countries if it is not essential (Russian, 2008). Zoya Proshina makes it clear that academic works are seldom completed in English due to the requirements of dissertation as most Russian grant-supported research is required to be in Russian. Russian academics want to be well known everywhere but the requirement to write in Russian stops that from happening, so they have a smaller group of academics. If they were allowed to write in English, they would be able to use it as ELF and be more well-known (Proshina, 2008).

Although there are not yet enough reasons for Russians to learn English, it is possible it would be useful in the future as English-speaking countries continue to hold more power in many different aspects, English may become more necessary. Also, it is likely that younger Russians will travel more and find a use for English and begin to unlock previously unexplored cultures and unique opportunities.

References

Allen Abel. “What It's like to Be Russian in the U.S. Right Now.” Macleans.ca, 17 July 2017, https://www.macleans.ca/society/life/what-its-like-to-be-russian-in-the-u-s-right-now/.

Babbel.com, and Lesson Nine GmbH. “How Many People Speak English, and Where Is It Spoken?” 2021, Babbel Magazine, https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/how-many-people-speak-english-and-where-is-it-spoken.

Babbel.com, and Lesson Nine GmbH. “How Many People Speak Russian, and Where Is It Spoken?” 2021, Babbel Magazine, https://www.babbel.com/en/magazine/how-many-people-speak-russian-and-where-spoken.

Ian Bond. “Contested Space: Eastern Europe between Russia and the EU.” Centre for European Reform, 09 March 2017, https://www.cer.eu/publications/archive/policy-brief/2017/contested-space-russian-and-eu-relations-eastern-europe.

Dina Smeltz, Brendan Helm. “Despite Political Tension, Americans and Russians See Cooperation as Essential.” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 16 Mar. 2021, https://www.thechicagocouncil.org/research/public-opinion-survey/despite-political-tension-americans-and-russians-see-cooperation.

“EF Epi 2020 - EF English Proficiency Index.” EF EPI 2020 - EF English Proficiency Index, https://www.ef.com/wwen/epi/.

“Languages - Languages.” BBC, BBC, https://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/european_languages/countries/russia.shtml.

Lefaucheurc. “What Will Russia Do after the War?: The National WWII Museum: New Orleans.” The National WWII Museum | New Orleans, The National World War II Museum, 3 Sept. 2018, https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/what-will-russia-do-after-war.

Proshina, Zoya. English as a Lingua Franca in Russia. 2008, https://web.uri.edu/iaics/files/10-Zoya-Proshina.pdf.

“Russian as a Lingua Franca.” ФОНД РУССКИЙ МИР. 22, Oct. 2008, https://russkiymir.ru/en/publications/139605/.

Sorokina, Anna. “How Russians Learn English and Why They Fail at It.” Russia Beyond, 28 Sept. 2017, https://www.rbth.com/education/326271-how-russians-learn-english.

“U.S. Relations with Russia - United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of State, 3 Sept. 2021, https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-russia/.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2022

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, JOIN THEM: THE RISE OF MAGHREBI ARABIC IN FRANCE

by Emily Swisher 

Emily Swisher is a third-year doctoral student in French Studies at the University of Illinois. Emily hopes to become a professor of French and incorporate research from her subfields of Translation/Interpretation and European Union Studies into her professional work. She wrote this blog post in 418 'Language and Minorities in Europe' in Fall 2021.

The Arabic language has an undeniably strong hold in France. It is currently the second-most spoken language in the country with approximately four million locutors, far surpassing the combined number of speakers of France’s 25+ regional languages. Historically opposed to education initiatives in any language aside from the recognized national standard, France is now starting to reevaluate its policies toward the instruction of minority languages, and Arabic in particular. With a growing population of Arabic speakers on the mainland, the impetus for change seems to follow the adage, if you can’t beat them, join them. For France, talk of Arabic instruction increasingly favors introduction of the language into schools from an early age, in order to make sure that its dissemination follows the Ministry of Education’s strict teaching guidelines.
In order to understand the importance of Arabic in France, it is necessary to take a brief dive into France’s colonial past. Without mentioning all of its territorial holdings, France claimed important colonial outposts in much of Northern Africa until the latter half of the 20th century, including Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Upon independence, many of the inhabitants of these former colonies resettled in France, effectively creating a surge in the number of Arabic speakers there (See Image 1 for a color-coded map of the different varieties of Arabic spoken in North Africa and the Middle East). Indeed, the influence of Arabic in France is such that, while not a regional language, Maghrebi Arabic (the version of the language spoken in the aforementioned countries of Northern Africa)[1] has been recognized as a langue de la France since 1999 (Cerquiglini) [2]. However, despite its status as the second-most spoken language in France, Maghrebi Arabic is decidedly unpopular as a school subject for new language learners. The Economist notes that, “An estimated five million French citizens have family roots in the Arab world, mainly in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Yet the teaching of the language in schools is regarded in many quarters as suspect, if not dangerous. A mere 13,000 French pupils study Arabic – just 0.2% of all secondary-school students who take a second language” (https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/09/20/teaching-arabic-in-france). According to many reports, it is now in the best interest of the country to change that.

Image 1: Arabic Dialects (source : https://en-academic.com/pictures/enwiki/65/Arab_World-Large.PNG)  

The areas designated by shades of blue are considered the Maghrebi dialects.

Recently, there has been an uptick in support for foreign language education initiatives concerning both France’s regional and other minority languages. Regarding Arabic, French President Emmanuel Macron stated in 2020 that young language learners need to have the opportunity to study Arabic as part of a “policy of recognition” (cited in SEE News, https://see.news/teaching-arabic-in-french-schools-raises-controversy/). Recognition is certainly the first step in creating a more far-reaching language policy, and in the case of Arabic, this means an overhaul of how the language is taught within France. As former education and culture minister Jack Lang puts it, Arabic suffers from an “image problem” because it is “afflicted by a lack of public awareness of its place in national and international history” (The National News, https://www.thenationalnews.com/world/europe/ex-minister-on-a-mission-to-put-arabic-into-french-schools-and-hearts-1.987811).

So, how can all of this change? To begin with, it might be time for France to rethink its traditional censure of all “other” – i.e. non-French – languages in the classroom. This notion has been at the center of a very heated debate for the past several years, with opponents from either side of the political spectrum having very strong opinions on the subject. For those that favor the introduction of Arabic classes into the French educational system, the goal would be to offer quality language courses by qualified instructors in an environment governed by the Ministry of Education. This would not only ensure excellence of instruction but would also serve to moderate content according to the Ministry’s standards. For many, Arabic and religious extremism are conflated, and so implementing a state-monitored, secular language program presents itself as an appealing solution to instruction of the language. Interestingly, the addition of these classes is sought especially at the primary and secondary levels since teaching of Arabic at the university level is thought to be unproblematic and uncontroversial – indeed, at Sciences Po (an internationally renowned university in Paris) there are 37 Arabic instructors as compared with 180 Arabic teachers across all of France’s public schools combined (New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/05/world/europe/france-arabic-public-schools-mosques.html). 

Image 2: Coexist rally in Rennes, France 

(source: https://www.dw.com/en/emmanuel-macrons-plans-to-protect-french-values-alienate-muslims/a-55090098)

On the other side of the debate regarding Arabic education, there are those that feel that including the language in primary and secondary school curricula is tantamount to Islamizing French youth, who should, according to these opponents, be indoctrinated with French (only) ideas of identity and linguistic belonging. According to Robert Ménard, the far-right mayor of Béziers, inclusion of Arabic in the classroom would announce “the birth of another nation right in the heart of France” (Economist, https://www.economist.com/europe/2018/09/20/teaching-arabic-in-france).

Image 3: March against Islamophobia in Paris, France 

(source: https://www.dw.com/en/france-thousands-demonstrate-against-islamophobia/a-51194917)


In spite of fears that Arabic education might somehow radicalize younger generations and alter something fundamental about French identity, there is nonetheless a slow march toward change. Arabic is an undeniable part of French society, and its instruction is moving more and more into the secular realm in state-sanctioned educational networks. Though not a historically recognized language of France, Arabic is nonetheless integrally tied to France’s past, present, and future. In the words of Jack Lang, “what better way to transmit elements of culture than through learning the language” (cited in SEE News, https://see.news/teaching-arabic-in-french-schools-raises-controversy/)? Indeed, in the spirit of reconciliation and in recognition of the interwoven cultural network between France and the Maghreb, the most logical path forward would be through a joining of forces and a celebration of the possibilities of a growing multilingual French/Arabic population. 

[1] For more information on the Maghrebi dialect of Arabic, see here: https://pangeanic.hk/knowledge_centre/arabic-dialects-a-close-look-at-north-african-arabic/#.

[2] Cerquiglini Bernard : (1999) Les Langues de la France, Rapport aux ministres de l’Education nationale et de la Culture, www.dglf.culture.gouv.fr.


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Thursday, April 7, 2022

PYLA: THE FUTURE OF CYPRUS

by Lucas Haney

Lucas Haney is a senior in Spanish and Italian studies at the University of Illinois. Lucas’ future plans include pursuing an MA in Translation and Interpretation in order to help facilitate communication between groups with linguistic barriers, like in the medical field and/or the border between the US and Mexico. He wrote this blog post in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ in Fall 2021.

Cyprus has had an interesting development as a country for a little over a century due to an ongoing dispute within the country that heavily affects Turkey as well. The beginning of the 1960s started off swimmingly with Cyprus officially declaring itself independent in August 1960 from the rule of the British. With this independence there was an agreement between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots for a partnership with a constitution that would help to govern the country (THO). At this point the use of Turkish, or more specifically Cypriot Turkish in some cases, was spread throughout the country since there was no fighting between the two ethnicities and their languages. However, due to the events of 1963 with communal violence breaking out between the two groups and an attempted coup d’état with Greek assistance in 1974 (THO). Turkey sent troops to the island and soon occupied the northern part of Cyprus that came to be known today as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, or TRCN for short, and is not recognized by any country around the world except for Turkey, the state’s main distributor of economic support, military accommodations, and political support (THO). At the time of writing this blog, the two separated states have chosen their own specific languages to teach, write, conduct governmental duties in, and perform everyday tasks without too much intermingling of the languages.

AFP. Dawn, 17 Jan. 2017, https://www.dawn.com/news/1308139. Accessed 10 Nov. 2021. 

However, a question lingers in the air that needs to be answered; is there any linguistic mingling between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in this day and age? The answer is yes, but it is unfortunately very little due to the ongoing negotiations. The villages of Pyla, Deneia, Athienou, and Troulloi are the only villages in the UN buffer zone, an area that was established by the UN itself in 1974 in order to prevent any possible invasions by the Turkish military force that still occupies Northern Cyprus (Juriste). These villages are proof that the country can return to how it used to be in the past before the dispute since they are really close to the divide of the country. However, the main focus for this is going to be Pyla since this is the only village in the entire country of Cyprus that has Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriots living together well enough that the village can stay standing as a symbol for the possible future of Cyprus.

Pyla is a small village of about 2,000 people of mixed ethnic roots (Panayides). Greek and Turkish Cypriots live together in Pyla in relative harmony, although the political pressure of the negotiations between the TRNC and Cyprus occasionally increases and decreases with time. The village is a tourist attraction, given the mixed cultures, languages, and the beauty of its landscape. Everyday life is conducted with tranquility, though there is a specific, but metaphorical divide between the mixed population that can be signified by the signs that are put up around the village; one can see which part of the village there are in just by viewing the language of the signs. The buildings, specifically residential buildings, on each side of the village are also very distinctive in terms of design. The Greek Cypriot side of the village has buildings with very large terraces and many archways throughout the area (Theodorou). However, the Turkish Cypriot side has buildings that are described to be more closed off to the eyes of people in general in order to retain more privacy and attract less attention overall (Theodorou).

Christou, Jean. Cyprus Mail, 29 June 2016, https://cyprus-mail.com/2016/06/29/akel-leader-focuses-pyla-model-community/. Accessed 10 Nov. 2021. 


The education system of the two languages coexisting together is also separated by the ethnicity of the children in order to facilitate language development for each respective group. The possibility of interlingual mingling is quite high, even though the research does not specify anything of the sort when it comes to local affairs. Relating to local affairs, public disputes and crimes are handled in a unique way in Pyla due to the location of the village itself in the buffer zone that the UN established. The Turkish police and the Greek police are gathered along with the UN officials that are in charge of keeping the peace in the village and the other villages mentioned in the buffer zone (Theodorou). The UN officials have the final say in the dispute that is being discussed in those proceedings, but the police of both sides of the village collaborate with the UN peacekeepers in order to make sure that there is not any bias when it comes to the final verdict of the crime committed (Theodorou). Also within the town are various churches for those who follow the Greek Orthodox faith and a beautifully decorated mosque that is made for those of the Islam faith, specifically those who identify themselves as Sunni Muslims. These sacred places that house those of each respective faith are located more in the areas where the religion is generally more prevalent, i.e. the churches in the Greek Cypriot side of the town and the mosque in the Turkish Cypriot side (DW). That does not mean, however, that none from the Turkish side of the village do not go to one of the Greek Orthodox churches and vice versa, it is just quite more common in Pyla to see each side go to their respective places of worship in their areas.

Oswald, Alexis. International Storytelling, 2016, https://internationalstorytelling.org/cyprus/singing-for-peace/Accessed 10 Nov. 2021. 

Diverting away from the separating nature of the people within the united village, there is a multilinguistic choir there that carries the message of unification of the country within all of their songs. This choir accepts anybody from the village, advocates for the goal of unifying the country, and the destigmatizing of the hostility that has been present between the two ethnic groups since the day of the Greek-supported coup d’état (DW). The songs that are sung by the inclusive music group revolves around tolerance for the ethnic differences of the two groups all around the country, acceptance, and love towards each other in order to end the Cyprus Dispute. The people who are a part of the choir are those who promote a jovial atmosphere and constantly strive for the goals that they sing about profusely. In addition, they even do language lessons for each language so that the equality of the choir is maintained, and mutual understanding is promoted in order to break language barriers (DW). The choir is a group in Pyla that is supported by the UN due to the fact that it is one of the very rare instances at the time of writing this where the two fighting groups are coexisting in harmony (DW). It is essentially a cross-culture project that is living proof that the two sides can put their differences aside and come to an agreement regarding territorial disputes and hostilities that range over many decades. In essence, it is the symbol of what is to be desired for the future of the country.

Overall the situation in Pyla is quite stable and is harmonious enough to allow tourists to visit and experience the unique occurrence of two distinct cultures living side by side amidst the ongoing political war between the two governments. There is a certain amount of separation within the village itself that specifies the sides where the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots reside generally, the education system of each side, the places of worship, and the attractions that each side provides for tourists, but it does not signify the shattering of unity that the village encompasses. This unity is the soul of the choir that fights daily for the end of the dispute that has been going on for centuries. It must be clarified that the separation of these ethnic groups is not means for claiming that segregation is at work and unity is a falsehood in this circumstance. Mutual cultural understanding is the name of the game here and Pyla continues to pioneer for the unity that was had almost a century ago. Pyla is the start of a new future for the country of Cyprus, a future of Cypriot harmony.

References

(www.dw.com), Deutsche Welle. “Pyla, Cyprus: Life in a Divided Village: DW: 09.11.2003.” DW.COM, 11 Sept. 2003, https://www.dw.com/en/pyla-cyprus-life-in-a-divided-village/a-1025809.

Kondakova-Theodorou, Evgeniya. “Pyla: Where Cultures Meet: Cyprus for Travellers.” Pyla: Where Cultures Meet | Cyprus For Travellers, 8 Sept. 2018, http://cyprusfortravellers.net/en/review/pyla-where-cultures-meet.

Panayides, Theo. “Pyla Community Leader on His Unusual Village.” Cyprus Mail, Cyprus Mail, 10 Mar. 2021, https://cyprus-mail.com/2021/03/10/cyprus-in-microcosm/.

Organization, Turkish Heritage (THO). “The Cyprus Dispute at a Glance.” The Cyprus Dispute at a Glance, 22 May 2017, https://www.turkheritage.org/en/publications/factsheets/issue-briefs/the-cyprus-dispute-at-a-glance-3300.

Canno. “The Unresolved Cyprus Problem.” Le Petit Juriste, 28 Apr. 2016, https://www.lepetitjuriste.fr/the-unresolved-cyprus-problem/.


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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

THE SLOVAK STATE LANGUAGE LAW: NATIONAL UNITY OR DISCRIMINATION?

by Riley Masterson

Riley Masterson is a senior in Global Studies and French at the University of Illinois. Riley's future plans include attending law school and working in the legal field. She wrote this blog post in 418 'Language and Minorities in Europe' in Fall 2021.

"Bratislava Castle from across Danube River."
Author: Hans Permana
Source: Flickr
License: CC BY-NC 2.0

The image above shows Bratislava Castle on the banks of the Danube River in Slovakia. Not far downstream, the Danube forms the natural border between Slovakia and Hungary. Despite their proximity, Slovakia and Hungary have significant cultural and linguistic differences. These differences became a point of contention in 2009, when Slovakia amended its State Language Law (SLL) (NBC News, 2009). Slovak is cited as the “state language” of the Republic of Slovakia in Article 6 of the Constitution (Fiala and Wardyn, 2009). While Slovak may be far from a global lingua franca, or even a working language within the EU, it does enjoy dominance within the borders of Slovakia. However, like every country, Slovakia is home to minority languages. The most notable minority language is Hungarian, with estimates finding that about 10% of Slovakia’s population speaks Hungarian. Speakers are concentrated along the southern border of Slovakia, as shown in the map below. Yet 2009’s SLL created a limit on the legal use of minority languages like Hungarian within Slovakia (Schöpflin 2009).

“Distribution of Hungarian Language in Europe.”

Author: Mutichou
License: GNU Free Documentation License

The SLL applied to the Slovak government and its employees, upholding a rule in which the government must use Slovak in official communications. The Law went a step further, requiring employees including firemen, policemen, mailmen, and transportation employees, as well as the people they interact with, to use Slovak. There was an exception if the communication took place in an area with minority language-speakers making up over 20% of that area’s population. Another exception was if the person interacting with a public servant did not speak Slovak. Similarly, a court interpreter could be used if the person involved did not understand Slovak (Fiala and Wardyn, 2009).

The requirement for many other mediums of communication was that if a minority language is used, Slovak must be used as well. Official paperwork often had to be kept in both the original language and Slovak. All foreign television and radio programs had to be dubbed into Slovak or include subtitles. Unless a patient did not understand Slovak, or the hospital was in a minority area, healthcare must be provided in Slovak. Another strange manifestation of the law is the requirement that inscriptions on symbolic displays, such as monuments, be in Slovak. If they were in a minority language, the inscriptions must be the same size or smaller than the writing in Slovak. The government allowed one year to change the inscriptions. (Fiala and Wardyn, 2009).

In addition to laws that are difficult to navigate, the SLL included fines for violators. The details of the fines were not specified in the text of the law, meaning people may not have known the risks if they spoke a minority language (Fiala and Wardyn, 2009).

The SLL was met with vehement opposition by the Hungarian population within Slovakia, but also by Hungarians across the Danube. Hungarians became advocates for the minority Hungarian population within Slovakia. The Slovak Most-Híd party, which mainly draws support from Hungarians within Slovakia, advocated strongly against the law as a limit on the rights of minorities. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) became embroiled in the conflict, with the High Commissioner on National Minorities, Knut Vollebæk, travelling to Slovakia and attempting to reform the law (The OSCE, 2010).

Another key player was the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML). Hungarians within Slovakia are protected by the ECRML, which came into force in Slovakia in 2002. The Committee of Experts, which works on behalf of the ECRML, spoke out against the 20% rule of the SLL, citing the ECRML and the fact that major minority populations within Slovakia are not protected, but endangered, by the law. Specifically, the Committee believed the 20% cutoff was arbitrary and ineffective at protecting the rights of minorities, including not just Hungarians but also Croats and Germans. The Committee criticized the law in its reports, urging Slovak authorities to make significant changes. In direct opposition to the findings of the Committee, Slovakia responded that the 20% rule was “adequate” and did not violate any rights (Fiala and Wardyn, 2009).

The SLL was ultimately heavily amended in 2010 under a new government. The law became much more palatable for Hungarians and other minorities in Slovakia, with interference in the “private sphere” being greatly reduced. Many workers, such as transportation employees and mailmen, no longer need to use Slovak. Some requirements for paperwork being kept in both a minority language and Slovak were also eliminated. To the dismay of Hungarian lawmakers and regular Hungarians in Slovakia, fines are still possible for breaking the law, but in much fewer circumstances and with more defined amounts (Terenzani, 2010).

Despite the law remaining in place, the SLL lost its bite. This law was clearly a barrier to the maintenance of minority languages within Slovakia’s borders. Under the guise of national unity and preservation of the Slovak language, Slovak lawmakers created an oppressive environment in which people weren’t free to speak their native language. Although within Hungary, Croatia, and Germany, there are plenty of speakers of each respective language, Slovakia still has a duty under the ECRML and EU law to preserve, not endanger, minority languages within its borders.

References

NBC News. “New language law in Slovakia sparks tensions.” (September 16, 2009). https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna32881272

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. “OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities issues statement on Slovakia’s language law.” (January 4, 2010). https://www.osce.org/hcnm/51811

Schöplfin, György. “The Slovak language law is discriminatory and restrictive.” (July 10, 2009). EU Observer. https://euobserver.com/opinion/28440

Terenzani, Michaela. “Language Act takes a ‘less bad’ form.” (December 20, 2010). The Slovak Spectator. https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20038422/language-act-takes-a-less-bad-form.html

Wardyn, Lukasz and Fiala, Jan, “The 2009 Amendment of the Slovakian State Language Law and Its Impact on Minority Rights” (June 1, 2010). Polish Yearbook of International Law, Vol. 29 (2009), pp. 153-173, https://ssrn.com/abstract=2173982

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

OPTIMISM IN THE FACE OF URGENCY: WOULD INDEPENDENCE INCREASE OR DECREASE SCOTLAND’S CHANCES OF SAVING GAELIC?

by Scarlet Peterson

Scarlet Peterson is a MA student in French Linguistics at the University of Illinois. In the future, Scarlet hopes to become a professor. She wrote this blog post in 418 'Language and Minorities in Europe' in Fall 2021.
Ever since Brexit, the Scots have been considering independence more seriously than ever. Although there is still much debate surrounding the topic (and setbacks due to COVID-19), the notion is still not far from reality. And, with the recent alliance between the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Green Party, the political clout behind independence is stronger than ever (Dallison). Many Scots insist that, if independence from the United Kingdom was realized, they would be more capable of managing their internal affairs and preserving their identity (Learmoth). A fundamental aspect of this identity is contained within the Gaelic language, a minority language spoken by 1.7% of the Scottish people. Already spoken by a sliver of the population, this slice of Scotland is disappearing at an alarming rate, with a decrease of 5% of speakers from 2001 to 2011 alone (Campsie). Because the transmission of Gaelic has skidded to a halt in the vernacular communities, action must be taken immediately to preserve the language (Ewing). The question is: could an independent Scotland realize this goal more effectively than the status quo?

Three principal problems pose a threat to the preservation of Gaelic: a decay of the vernacular communities, a lack of education of and in Gaelic, and a paucity of meaningful venues where Gaelic is spoken regularly. If these are effectively addressed, the language will find far more stable footing than it currently has.

This graphic shows the percent of survey respondents who said they spoke Gaelic — the highest concentration is in the islands. 
By SkateTier - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31996352
First, the Scottish Isles are seeing an exodus. As 25% of native Gaelic speakers live there, this marks the end of natural transmission, a dramatic change in the vitality of the language (Ewing). To combat the depopulation crisis, the SNP has proposed a “National Islands Plan,” part of which contains an “Islands Bond” (Ewing). Though this is subject to change, and may vary from island to island, the most publicized policy is an offer of 50,000 pounds to young people and families who agree to stay in or move to islands that are most at risk. The goal is to support one-hundred individuals and/or families up to the end of the parliament in 2026, making the monetary cost 5 million pounds over the next five years.

Not much data is available to project the efficacy of this initiative. In cases like this, adverse selection paired with simply funding individuals who were already planning on making the move is a risk. Provided that it does work, however, there is some hope for the Gaelic language. A 2014 study by Dr. Cassie Smith-Christmas addressed language acquisition and attitudes of those who move to (or move back to) Gaelic-speaking areas. The research found that migrants’ use of and fluency in Gaelic increased (even if just at the basic level). Additionally, the observation was made that incomer families were more likely to put their children in Gaelic immersion schools than local families (Smith-Christmas 22). This would lead to the rising generation being strong in Gaelic, but without access to proper education, this would have no long-term effect.

Historically, Gaelic-speaking individuals were related to a poor, rural, and uneducated class. For example, they were referred to with degrading names, such as “nattie” or “slicer” (Giollagáin). After the Highland Clearances, the language was repressed (Clarke 399). But, public opinion has since taken a turn, and now values the preservation of Gaelic, and furthermore, recognizes the vital role that easily-accessible education plays in that goal. This is actively supported by the SNP (Davidson). Representative McMillan, in a Scottish Parliamentary debate on the National Gaelic Plan, stated:

I welcome the additional demand for primary school Gaelic education, which has increased by 79 per cent, and the additional demand for secondary school Gaelic education, which has increased by 48 per cent. I would like more young people to have that opportunity, but it is clear that the situation surrounding the transition to secondary school is now challenging (Ewing).

The representative then goes on to discuss how finding qualified teachers will be the next stumbling block in the face of this process. But, with new Gaelic immersion schools announced in both Glasgow and Edinburgh within the past year, the future is looking bright for the language, at least in the face of early education (Swanson, Sandelands).

The Sgoil Ghàidhlig Ghlaschu teaches students through Gaelic

By MacSteaphain - Own work, CC BY 3.0, 

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5741400



But, when students grow up and graduate, any language skills will be lost if there is no venue in which to use them. To accommodate this, the SNP has suggested establishing a “recognized gàidhealtachd,” or area where Gaelic is spoken (Davidson). However, no official has offered a definition of what a “recognized gàidhealtachd” would look like, or what policies would be attached to it. Additionally, the SNP has proposed vague plans to increase the amount of Gaelic used when interacting with the public (Campsie). But, again, these plans lack substance; the simple truth is that when goals and timelines are not explicitly defined, they are not likely to be realized.

But, to conclude with the overall question: would an independent Scotland better face these challenges than an allied one? Considering the activity of the SNP regarding the preservation of the Gaelic language, I would suggest that there would be little, if no difference. In fact, if Scotland did decide to break from its southernly neighbor, the end would be detrimental, if only slightly so. The UK uses the Barnett formula in order to divide its annual budget—the truth of this is that it almost always favors Scotland relative to England (Learmonth). In fact, for every pound spent on an English citizen, 1.30 is spent on a Scottish citizen (Learmonth). Katy Gordon, an economy spokesperson, stated “At some stage the nationalists are going to have to admit that if they ever achieved independence they would be throwing away billions of pounds a year for public services.” Considering that much of language preservation is in public policy—such as funding vernacular communities and schools—this is not something to be taken lightly, nor divorced from the overall issue at hand. So, in the meantime, provided that Westminster maintains its distance and Scotland continues to exercise its devolved powers over education and culture, one can expect the status quo to be the most effective option available.

 

References

Campsie, Allison. “More Gaelic to Be Used at Scottish Government under Plan to Save ‘fragile’ Language.” The Scotsman, July 2021, 

https://www.scotsman.com/heritage-and-retro/heritage/more-gaelic-to-be-used-at-scottish-government-under-plan-to-save-fragile-language-3309493.


Clarke, Amy. “Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot? The Uses of History in Scottish Nationalist Politics, 2007Present.” Australian Journal of Politics & History, vol. 66, no. 3, Wiley-Blackwell, Sept. 2020, pp. 396–414. Academic Search Ultimate.

 

Dallison, Paul. “Scottish Greens Back Coalition Deal with SNP.” Politico , 28 Aug. 2021, https://www.politico.eu/article/scotland-green-party-conference-approve-coalition-government-snp/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.


Davidson, Gina. “Scottish Election 2021: Gaelic Education Needs Boosted to Preserve Language, Says SNP.” The Scotsman, Apr. 2021, https://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/scottish-election-2021-gaelic-education-needs-boosted-to-preserve-language-says-snp-3201037.

            

Davidson, Jenni. “SNP to Explore Creation of a Designated ‘Gàidhealtachd’ as Part of Measures to Support Gaelic.” Holyrood, Apr. 2021, https://www.holyrood.com/news/view,snp-to-explore-creation-of-a-designated-gidhealtachd-as-part-of-measures-to-support-gaelic.


Ewing, Annabelle. “National Gaelic Language Plan – in the Scottish Parliament on 23rd June 2021.” TheyWorkForYou, MySociety, 23 June 2021, www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=2021-06-23.28.0. Accessed 23 Sept. 2021.


Giollagáin, Conchúr Ó, and Iain Cambeul. “Chapter 8: Contemporary Sociolinguistic Profile of Gaelic in Language Planning and Policy Context: Relevance of Management Models.” The Gaelic Crisis in the Vernacular Community: A Comprehensive Sociolinguistic Survey of Scottish Gaelic, Aberdeen University Press, Aberdeen, Scotland, 2020. 


Learmonth, Andrew. “Spending in Scotland 30 per Cent Higher per Person than in England Because of Barnett Formula, Says IFS.” Holyrood, 31 Mar. 2021, https://www.holyrood.com/news/view,ifs-say-barnett-formula-leaves-spending-in-scotland-30-higher-per-person-than-in-england. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021. 


Sandelands, Drew. “New Gaelic Schools Set to Get Go-Ahead in Glasgow.” Glasgow Times, 24 Mar. 2020, https://www.glasgowtimes.co.uk/news/18327844.new-gaelic-schools-set-get-go-ahead-glasgow/. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021. 


Smith-Christmas, Cassie. “Language and Integration: Migration to Gaelic-Speaking Areas in the Twenty-First Century.” Soillse, Soillse Project , Feb. 2014, http://www.soillse.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/Language-and-Integration-Migration-to-Gaelic-Speaking-Areas-in-the-Twenty-First-Century.pdf.


Swanson, Ian. “Police HQ and Old Hospital in Running to Be Site of Edinburgh's New Gaelic School.” Edinburgh News, 9 Sept. 2021. https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/education/police-hq-and-old-hospital-in-running-to-be-site-of-edinburghs-new-gaelic-school-3376156. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

BILBAO’S LINGUISTIC LANDSCAPE SEEN THROUGH A METRO RIDE

by Sidney Schroepfer

Sidney Schroepfer is a senior in psychology and Spanish at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Sidney’s future plans include applying to graduate school for clinical psychology and volunteering in ESL classrooms. He wrote this blog post in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ in Fall 2021. 
Before beginning this blog post, I would like to thank my host parent, Tere, and the professors from the University of Deusto. Thanks to them, my study abroad experience had a major impact in understanding myself and the world around me, and I gained a deep connection to the city, its languages, and its people.

In this blog I interweave my observations from a typical metro commute with research that demonstrates where and how Euskara is used. And therefore, demonstrates how a salient Basque identity is being shaped.

First, I paint Bilbao’s context through a brief history lesson. The Basque language, Euskara, is a language isolate (Urban, 2021). It has no perceived relation to the other languages in Europe that geographically surround it. Despite this lack of linguistic connection, the Basque people have played an important role for the Iberian Peninsula. In fact, Bilbao was the main port for the Kingdom of Castile during the Middle Ages (The Port, 2018). In recent history, Basque identity and the Euskara language fell when fascist and extreme nationalist groups shunned and discouraged the use of minority languages and expression of minority cultures in public spaces in Spain up until the 1970s. From this low, Basque people have rebuilt their cities and reestablished their identity and appear poised for more salient Basque expression through language. And it is from within this context I begin my commute.

Figure 1. Arrantzale (Bar), Getxo
Stepping out from my apartment in Algorta, I walked along the seaside towards Puerto Viejo (old port) in Getxo. In this area, approximately a twenty-five-minute metro from the main city, Euskara shares its presence on commercial buildings with Castilian. One place I passed is called Arrantzale which means fisherman in Euskara (Figure 1). Right beside Arrantzale you see in Castilian, ‘Taberna’ (tavern) and ‘Bar’ (bar). Naming this popular tavern Arrantzale honors the whaling and fishing that kept the Basque region prosperous. And including Castilian in its signage introduces Euskara into the Castilian speaking population in the area and further places Euskara into the linguistic landscape of Bilbao. Carmen Fernandez Juncal reports in their research, “[Euskara] has a greater symbolic-connotative function” and that “…certain subjects…are more likely to be exposed in both languages” (Fernandez, p.724). In Algorta and throughout the Bilbao region, Euskara is often used to name commercial businesses and Castilian tags alongside it to help further identify what it means for those who do not speak the language. This shapes identity by symbolically putting Euskara in equal level to Castilian.

I then hopped onto the metro, and after a twenty-minute ride, walked to the University of Deusto near the center of Bilbao. I remember the first orientation where the university president took center stage and spoke in Euskara about the university’s mission to focus on Basque academic achievements. The notion of expressing a Basque heritage through academia demonstrates how linguistic and ethnic communities can reshape and define their own future through establishing credible institutions.

At the university I had a gastronomy class that involved cooking lessons from a chef at the Ribera Market. We took the metro from the university and arrived in the city’s old center, Casco Viejo, and walked over to the Ribera Market to make Basque cuisine. Gastronomy plays an important role in establishing a communities ethnic or regional identity. For example, think about French cuisine and the prestige that has, and think about differences in cuisine for northern and southern states of the US. Clearly, identity is expressed through a state/region’s gastronomy. Kerri Lesh identifies how locations like the Ribera Market play into the economic prosperity of the Bilbao and attributes value to Euskara through marketing products globally and placing prestige on the associated cuisine. Lesh states “developing ideas of how language materiality and value are produced, languages such as Euskara can better strategize the promotion of their gastronomic and tourist sectors” (Lesh, p.60). With the university connecting study abroad students to the Ribera Market, Euskara and Basque identity are shown off and promoted to outsider groups.

After classes at the university and at the Ribera Market, I took the metro again to travel to a local elementary school in the close suburb Otxarkoaga where I tutored English in their after-school program. Here I got exposed to how Euskara was taught in some schools and how children felt connected to their neighborhood. What I observed largely aligned with what Begoña Echeverria concludes in their observations and quantitative research. Echeverria concludes that “Basque schooled students identified as Basque and linked that to their Euskara whereas Spanish-schooled students identified as equally Basque and Spanish” (Echeverria, p.365). As I tutored in English, I would ask them questions about their neighborhood and family, and for many children, if they did not know the word in English they would choose to speak in Euskara as opposed to Castilian. Children who are born around Bilbao and have access to Euskara language education, they strongly identify with the Basque community.

Figure 2. Mixing with Euskara and Castilian

At the end of my time at each of these locations, bar, market, university, or classroom, the conversations in Castilian that we had always ended or began with a Basque greeting. My favorite was “agur” which means both hello and goodbye. Euskara bleeds through into the Spanish conversation, especially amongst the highly educated in Bilbao. For example, Castilian is the language that is mostly heard when walking down the street. However, in cases where there is high mixing of people in Bilbao, Euskara was the language of conversation (Figure 2). This too is an example of increasing Euskara and Basque identity that takes hold of the verbal landscape in Bilbao.

In conclusion, from short rides on the metro I was exposed to how commercial enterprises utilized Euskara to symbolically tie business into historical triumphs of the Basque people. I saw how food and tourism tied in to strengthen the prestige of Euskara. I learned from the children in the area how Euskara education increases their pride of their heritage. And of course, the embedding of Euskara greetings in the conversations in Castilian serves to remind where exactly we are. From these different sectors, it is clear a Basque identity is shaping and strengthening using Euskara.

References

Echeverria, B. (2003). Schooling, Language, and Ethnic Identity in the Basque Autonomous Community. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 34(4), 351–372.      https://doi.org/10.1525/aeq.2003.34.4.351

Fernández Juncal, C. (2020). Funcionalidad Y convivencia Del Español Y El Vasco en El Paisaje Lingüístico De Bilbao. Íkala: Revista de Lenguaje y Cultura, 25(3),713-729. https://doi-
org.proxy2library.illinois.edu/10.17533/udea.ikala.v25n03a04

Lesh, K. N. (2021). Basque gastronomic tourism: Creating value for Euskara through the materiality of language and drink. Applied Linguistics Review, 12(1), 39–63. https://doi-org.proxy2.library.illinois.edu/10.1515/applirev-2019-0101

The Port: History. Bilbaoport. (2018, February 9). Retrieved December 2, 2021, from https://www.bilbaoport.eus/en/the-port/history/.

Urban, M. (2021). The geography and development of language isolates. Royal Society Open Science, 8(4), 202232. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.202232

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