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!

Bridging the Gap: Language and Community in Action in East Central Illinois

Skye Mclean discusses the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center (ECRIMAC), which provides services essential to refugee and immigrant resettlement in East-Central Illinois and aids in the exchange and preservation of their respective cultures.

Place and Space: Another Perspective on Crimea

Senior Andrey Starosin offers his perspective on the current events taking place in Crimea.

French Professor Revamps Course on "Language and Minorities in Europe"

Linguis Europae's own Zsuzsanna Fagyal and her course "Languages and Minorities in Europe" were featured in a recent issue of the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics.

Un'Ode al "Dialàtt Bulgnaiś": An Ode to the Bolgnese Dialect

Kaitlyn Russell muses on her fondness for the Italian dialect, Bolognese.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Recursos para hablar de la independencia: La repetición, la estética y la emoción

by Chase Krebs

Chase Krebs is a graduate student in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. She composed this blog entry on the techniques and esthetics of discourses of independence in Catalonia in the ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ (SPAN 418) course in the spring of 2013.

    Cuando escuchas la palabra Cataluña, ¿en qué piensas? Si sabes algo de la historia de Cataluña, la comunidad autónoma en el nordeste de España, quizás vas a pensar en el sentimiento independentista que ha sido tan prevalente en esta región a través de los siglos.

    De hecho, se podría argumentar que este deseo para la autodeterminación ha culminado en el llamamiento a la independencia que los catalanes han demostrado en las últimas décadas.

    Es verdad que se puede encontrar las raíces del movimiento independista en la época medieval de la historia de Cataluña, pero ese no es el objetivo aquí. El propósito de este post es hablar de la actualidad, de la expresión del sentimiento autonómico que se encuentra hoy en día.

    Primero, echa un vistazo a este video de YouTube.

    Después de haber visto el video, ¿cómo te sientes? ¿Se puede considerar este video una expresión objetiva del independentismo en Cataluña? ¿Por qué?

    Estas preguntas son las que nos interesan aquí. No encontrarás aquí un argumento en favor de (o en contra de) la independencia de Cataluña. Lo que sí vas a encontrar es un análisis de los métodos usados para difundir el mensaje del deseo de independencia de los catalanes. Nota, entonces, que para realizar este análisis, no nos importa ni por qué existe tal deseo ni la validez de tal deseo, ya que estos son temas muy complejos y subjetivos.

    Para hablar del difuso de los mensajes del nacionalismo catalán, se habla necesariamente del poder de las palabras. Ya que vivimos en una “era de comunicación” que goza de medios de comunicación como YouTube, Facebook y Twitter, se podría decir que la manipulación (y uso manipulación sin una connotación negativa) de las palabras ha llegado a ser de suma importancia.

    Según Raluca Octavia Zglobiu, hay dos maneras para manipular las palabras para lograr difundir un mensaje: una tiene que ver con los sentimientos y las emociones, y la otra tiene que ver con el contenido y la cognición (203). Como ya veremos, puede que la primera, que incluye una apelación a las emociones, sea la más importante.

    Lo que es más, Zglobiu propone varias maneras de apelar a las emociones. Las que son pertinentes para un discurso sobre el independentismo catalán son dos: el uso de un mensaje repetitivo y el uso de la estética del mensaje (204-205). Vemos algunos ejemplos de estas apelaciones con respecto al caso de Cataluña.

    En primer lugar, tenemos el mensaje repetitivo Catalonia is NOT Spain.


    Este mensaje se encuentra tanto en los partidos de fútbol (la foto de arriba) como en las manifestaciones y en las calles (las fotos de abajo). Según Zglobiu, este mensaje apela a las emociones ya que “la repetición crea artificialmente la impresión de un hecho obvio” (traducción mía) (204). Así que el mensaje en este mensaje sería algo como, “Ya que es obvio que Cataluña no es España, el deseo de independencia de la población catalana merece nuestra simpatía.”

    Además, destaca algo más aquí. Es importante que este mensaje aparezca en inglés (y no en castellano o en catalán). ¿Por qué en inglés? Es una cuestión de comunicación. No es una exageración decir que la lengua franca en Europa es el inglés. Por eso, un mensaje en inglés tendrá mucho más poder que un mensaje semejante en castellano o en catalán porque más personas lo verán y lo entenderán. Se ve el mismo fenómeno en este video que ofrece (en inglés) una explicación de los motivos para el deseo de independencia.

    También encontramos un ejemplo del uso de la estética en las fotos de arriba; la palabra ‘NOT’ se escribe en negrilla, dándole énfasis. El mensaje es que Catalonia no es España.

    Los videos que abogan para la independencia de Cataluña en el referéndum de 2014 también demuestran la importancia de la estética. En este video en particular, vemos que todas las palabras que aparecen en la pantalla se escriben con mayúscula, dándoles importancia y un elemento de homogeneidad. El lector, entonces, puede inferir que la población catalana es tan importante históricamente y tan homogénea con su anhelo para la independencia.

    De esta manera, se ve que hoy en día el pueblo catalán utiliza los recursos relacionados con la repetición y la estética para transmitir su deseo de independencia al mundo. Sin embargo, hasta ahora no hemos dicho nada sobre los elementos extra-ortográficos  de estos videos y fotos—es decir, la música y las imágenes. De hecho, el primer video de este post (que puedes mirar aquí) no incluye ningún texto, tan solo música e imágenes de una manifestación.

    En conclusión, entonces, tengo algunas preguntas. Para ti, ¿cuál es más persuasivo, el uso de la repetición y la estética o el uso de la música y las imágenes emotivas? ¿Puedes pensar en otros recursos de persuasión utilizados por los catalanes u otros grupos que piden la independencia?

Referencias

Zglobiu, Raluca Octavia. “Techniques of Manipulation in Political Discourse.”
Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai, 4 (2006): 203-215.

Imagines y Enlaces

Enlace 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS2aYGn7UtI
Enlace 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPr0wK1gquk 
Enlace 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgzB_v3Z6nU
Imagen 1: http://arafah.deviantart.com/art/Catalonia-Is-NOT-Spain-328177834
Imagen 2: http://www.ara.cat/esports/barca/final-Champions-Barca-        
Manchester_5_489001097.html
Imagen 3: http://farm2.staticflickr.com/1153/4732742620_e15338088b.jpg
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Friday, December 6, 2013

Irish Education in Ireland

by Laís Kiehl

Laís Kiehl is a Linguistics major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He composed this blog entry on Irish language teaching and language revival in the ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ (LING 418) course in the spring of 2013.

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    As we all know, English is the vast majority language spoken in the Republic of Ireland. But did you know that Irish Gaelic, even being considered a minority language, is actively taught in schools?

    Irish enjoys a prestige status in Ireland, as it is the national and first official language of the Nation. However, it is not the first language spoken by a long shot -- only 3% of the population, located in the Gaeltachtaí, an Irish language speech community, speak Irish as a first language (O Laoire, 2012).

    Merely looking at that little percentage may cause you to think that Irish is a dead in the water language. You would be mistaken.

    The ardent protectors of Irish Gaelic can take pride in saying that intensive efforts have always been made to teach Irish to the entire population as part of the process of language revitalization.

Gaeltacht: the remaining Gaelic-speaking areas in Ireland
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    Ireland has developed and implemented language maintenance and language revival policies since gaining independence from British rule in 1922. At that time, the new Irish government targeted a bilingual state in which both Irish and English would be used, and language policies were created to support that goal (Coady, 2001).

    Since the 1920s, not only were schools in Ireland expected to teach the Irish language as a subject to native English-speaking students, but they were also asked to use it as a medium of instruction in immersion-type programs in primary schools (O Laoire, 2012).

    In an effort to revitalize Irish, a strong political stance on the language was being taken by the state. In fact, state language planning efforts to restore Irish centered mainly on the education system in the hope that Irish would become the language of work and play in schools.

    According to the article by Maria Coady, Attitudes Toward Bilingualism In Ireland, two models of teaching emerged. The first model was to teach through the medium of English, with Irish as a compulsory school subject. The second model used Irish as the medium of instruction in schools either partially or fully.

    In the 1930s and 1940s, the teaching methods were considered as traditional and rigid. These methods included teachers focusing on Irish grammar and placing less emphasis on oral ability (Coady, 2001). Teachers' competence was based exclusively on how well they could teach the Irish language, as opposed to their teaching competence in other subject areas. During that time, Irish should be used as the sole medium of instruction and activities during the first 3 years of schooling. The intensive promotion of bilingualism through the schools was unsuccessful, however, and towards the end of the 1940s, the immersion schools decreased in number (Coady, 2001). 

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    Since the early 1970s, the number of Gaelscoileanna (all Irish-medium schools) has continued to increase.The number of these schools began a gradual increase in the early 1970s until their substantial growth throughout the 1980s (Coady, 2001). This growth can be attributed to parents realizing the advantages of immersion schools, smaller classes and more equipment.

    Two main problems rose with the immersion schools in Ireland; (1) parents were concerned that their children’s progress in English would be delayed; and (2) parents would be torn between confidence that English is the means for social and global economic access, and knowing that Irish as a minority subordinated language gives access to strong cultural identities.

    To this day, 125 primary level non-Gaeltacht Irish medium schools exist throughout Ireland (Coady, 2001). And this number is expected to keep growing in the future. The Irish are profoundly proud of their culture, and a big portion of this culture is certainly made up of their their language. Irish may be the minority language spoken in the island, but it ranks as the majority language in the hearts of the population.        

Citation
Coady, Maria R. "Attitudes Toward Bilingualism In Ireland." Bilingual Research Journal 25.1-2
    (2001): 39-58. ERIC. Web. 11 Mar. 2013.
O Laoire, Muiris. "Language Policy And Minority Language Education In Ireland: Re-Exploring The
    Issues." Language, Culture And Curriculum 25.1 (2012): 17-25. ERIC. Web. 27 Mar. 2013.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Love and Hate for Language

by Eda Derhemi

In the beginning was the Word … As humans we are defined by and immersed in language. We often think of it as a simple means of communication, but, on deeper reflection, the way we see our language is much more complex than that. With the strengthening in recent centuries of the link between language and national identity (a link built and maintained subjectively through human interaction and interpretation), symbolic attachment to one’s language has also come to mean hate for the language of whoever was perceived as national enemy.

Potentially that link could have remarkable power for social mobilization, cohesion and interaction. Joshua Fishman has written insightfully on the positive power of the symbolic link of language and ethnicity. But it can also be a reason for wars, and it is a favorite topic for political manipulation and propaganda. The mobilizing power of language understood as a symbol of group identity is much greater than that of language as the tool that makes possible our mere interaction. As speakers of a certain language, humans often construct its image as an idealized representation of the group they belong to, often threatened and even victimized by some sort of “enemy," as suffering being always in a moral conflict with “the other." So every time nationalism is in the air, we speakers, in our national subconscious, behave like soldiers assigned the task of praising our language as the best, the most beautiful, the oldest, the richest, the most important, the language of diplomacy, of philosophy, of ballet, of cuisine or whatever special value, and defending it from imaginary attacks. Being from the Balkans, I know this attitude first hand. But the “backward and foolish” Balkans are not alone in this behavior; quite the opposite. Some of the highest legal fortifications, for example, have been built to protect the honor and purity of French, “the language of civilization” from all sorts of “wicked” linguistic attacks from outside and inside.

A few months ago one of the graduate students of the European Center at UIUC published in this blog an entry about the use in EU institutions of members’ languages. In one sentence he gave an opinion regarding the similarities between Serbian and Croatian, which are often discussed by linguists as dialects of the same language, and have lived as such for many years inside the ex-Yugoslavian socialist space. That sentence drew heated reactions from speakers of these languages, who dismissed the thought of such similarities. Reason and argument are not satisfactory answers in these cases: the symbolic value people give to their languages transcends any structural argumentation on the matter, and it is exactly in the domain of the historical relations of languages with cultures, and in their role as identity signifiers and molders, that such phenomena can be understood. Individuals would never apply critical self-analysis to reach the process through which such attitudes are constructed and to question the work of dominant ideologies; it would take a much longer time and mass education to undo what social propaganda has daily incorporated in our national cultures.

The bilingual signs were put up in line with EU rules on minority rights
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In early September incidents of aggression occurred in Vukovar, in the brand new EU member state, Croatia. In Vukovar EU regulations require the official signs in institutional buildings to be written in both alphabets, Latin (Croatian) and Cyrillic (Serbian). The BBC reported that "The protesters managed to overcome the police protection and smash new signs in Cyrillic on the local tax office and police station". “Cyrillic letters used to come to Vukovar on army tanks," one of the protesters, called Josic, told local media, referring to the occupation of the town by Serb rebels during the 1991-1995 war. The Croatian and Serbian languages are linguistically similar, but Croats use Latin script while Serbs use Cyrillic.” The strong emotional attachment the speakers feel towards their languages and its identification with ethnicity make it a very handy tool for all sorts of political and nationalistic manipulations. In highly indoctrinated environments people would literally die for their languages, without even reflecting for a second on the worthiness of such actions. Language anthropomorphism is an expression of these feelings, and as propaganda it is directed to cause immediate response to some sort of situated human cognition. Posters of languages and countries represented as beautiful but abused suffering women are examples of this process. In many ethno-linguistic conflicts language, nation or religion are used as symbolic flags, which groups follow as they would follow charismatic leaders. In their name conflicts are initiated, and their legacies are maintained for years after the end of the conflicts.

But even in peaceful societies, exclusive linguistic policies and hostile measures towards one of the languages of the community’s repertoire are not uncommon today, and the image of past victimization often becomes a reason for new institutional measures “to return the favor” to the old victimizers. The case of Catalan vs. Spanish in Catalonia, or the treatment of Russian in some of the Baltic Republics are two of many cases in point. In all these cases a strong claim is made for delayed but necessary justice and moral right, and probably with good reason. But the goal of achieving justice and that of respecting democratic principles and human rights are not always easy to reconcile. Major changes in linguistic policies to achieve justice for once subordinate languages, often result in the anticipated reversal of language shift, which in the long run establishes linguistic balance and promotes the maintenance of diversity, as in the above two cases. As much as this goal is honorable, maintaining democratic standards in dealing with speakers of once dominant languages is a challenge in all European societies, especially those that have undergone rapid but significant political changes.

To come back to the Balkans’ linguistic issues: language purism, although not rampant and mainstream today, is not just an issue of the 19th century; it continues in all the little states of ex-Yugoslavia, in Albania and even in Greece (an old EU member), towards general vocabulary and toponymy. But it is always justified as done in the name of love and respect for the language. Greek, Slavic and Turkish words in Albanian are layered according to very old contacts and relations of various kinds of Albanian speaking communities with these languages; but they are seen today with much less affection than the older Latin borrowings, or than much more recent loans from Italian, French and English. These loan words carry the weight of hostile or friendly discourses socially constructed as dominant cultures define their enemies and friends. The loan vocabulary from countries seen today as discursively hostile is treated as if the words themselves work as vicious undercover agents for national destruction. The fact of the matter is that these old borrowings from different historical periods which are today an integral part of Albanian, in spite of what language they come from, simply make the vocabulary of Albanian much richer and more expressive than the new, often unnecessary but “cool” borrowings from some modern languages.

Photo by I. Floqi
In Greece the use and even the name of the Arvanitika language, an Albanian sub-dialect, has been traditionally suppressed since the early times of Greece as a nation. It is almost a taboo even among Arvanites themselves to mention the linguistic connection to Albanian (see my article on Hydra in this blog). But when the head of the infamous fascist party “Golden Dawn” was arrested on September 28th, somehow Greek newspapers suddenly discovered that he had Albanian origins, because his family originated from an Arvanitika-speaking village of Greece. And in October, when the controversial Mayor of Thessaloniki, a Greek city with a very large number of Albanian emigrants, courageously inaugurated in the Karaiskakis park a testimonial stone to honor the twinship of Thessaloniki with the Albanian city of Durrës, another language hate act occurred: immediately after the inauguration, the part of the stone written in Albanian was completely covered by black paint by a group of anti-Albanian Greek protesters. No Albanian letters could be allowed in the Greek Karaiskakis park. I am sure they would claim they did this in the name of love for Greek, and that the Albanian language had no place in the Karaiskakis park. (The Karaiskakis incident was first reported on the Albanian blog "Peizazhe të fjalës")

The problem is that hate for a language is very close to hate for its speakers, and this condition is an enemy of a civil and peaceful society. The stability of today’s multiethnic multi-migrant societies depends fundamentally on the linguistic attitude and linguistic culture of these societies. The truth is that love for one’s language should not hurt but heal, as it does in the case of thousands of endangered languages around the globe, where simple (sometimes illiterate) communities of speakers make extraordinary efforts to save their languages. Unesco’s Endangered World Languages Atlas lists about 155 endangered languages and dialects in Europe alone. Most of these communities fight daily to save their languages from the threat of death. And imagine that Europe is the continent with the smallest number of endangered languages in the world!

At the 17th international conference of the Foundation of Endangered Languages at the University of Carleton in Ottawa that took place in early October, the case studies that showed real care and love for the language were so many, that they would make even a cynic change his mind on the future of humanity. Still, there was one presentation regarding two very similar unwritten languages in Africa, Nabit and Gurene, the second of which, just to avoid having the same writing system as the first one, flipped left to right all the letters of the newly created alphabet of the other language. Certainly this “separatist” move would not help linguistic maintenance of these two very small similar languages; in order to secure maintenance and revitalization, the communities would need ways to enlarge the affordable use of the language, its publications, schooling through it etc, so they would need to build sameness and not difference (without hurting authenticity?). Unfortunately linguistic efforts to build more difference which endangers the mere existence of the language itself, are not rare. But as Jonathan Glover says in his book Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century, tribal feelings that push groups to build separating walls are deeply rooted in humans. He asks “Why does hostility develop between even these minimal groups? One explanation is biological. Some behavior patterns may have had survival value for genes in an earlier environment” (p. 142).

I reject the idea that today we cannot overcome the drive of those genes, if they ever existed. Linguistic diversity, as a democratic and cultural cornerstone of the European Union, should not be just an ornament in the documentation of all the member states that belong to the EU, but a social practice in everyday communication in these countries. Love for one’s language should be cosmopolitan and not nationalistic. Many people I know who love their language, love just as much the language of the other. I dream of a world where this is the group that normalizes societies, and not the political parties that consistently and enthusiastically hijack the linguistic question, in Europe and everywhere else. We would live in much a better world, if the deep connection that we as humans feel with the languages we speak could be used to get closer to the rest of the world and not to build new boundaries separating us from them. It would be better to express love for the language by the wish to use them a lot, not let them die, translate from one to the other, study them, give them to the younger generations, and treat them as treasures, as our own life. Eric Dursteler, a researcher and historian of the Mediterranean, writes about a time when around this sea which many of us still share, a large mass of people spoke between three and ten languages all their lives, and used them as equal tools that simply allowed them to communicate and live with each other… But this was before Herder, north of the Mediterranean, called on his Volk saying “Speak German, o You German!” Am I talking of a utopia? Could be, but you need at least to talk about it, for it to have any chance to ever become reality.

Eda Derhemi (PhD in Communication, 2003) is a lecturer in the department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, and an adjunct assistant professor of Communications in Media and Cinema Studies. She completed her undergraduate studies in Linguistics and Literature at the University of Tirana, Albania, and her graduate studies in Illinois. She has extensive teaching and research experience in Italian Language, Linguistics and Media Studies. She worked as a correspondent journalist for Deutsche Welle, and is a regular writer of opinion pieces in the main Albanian media. Her interests are: linguistic endangerment and language death, minority languages and ethnicity in the EU, language of the media and propaganda, Balkan and Mediterranean studies, Arbëresh and Arvanitika.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Happy Birthday, Linguis Europae

by Zsuzsanna Fagyal, Eda Derhemi, Jessica Nicholas, Jui Namjoshi, and Alessia Zulato, bloggers and editors of this site

Latin is not a dead language, Croatian is the newest official state language of the European Union, there are many sides to Catalan identity in Spain, Albanian is still spoken in some villages in Italy and Greece, and Maltese is also a language, not just a type of dog!

In case you’ve ever wondered where all this kind of information can be found and how they fit together, you’ve just found the ideal blog site: log on to read us every other week!

Today, on European Multilingual Blogging Day, we have the privilege of writing about ourselves, as Linguis Europae is celebrating its one-year anniversary. The idea of this site was born from the stubborn determination of getting students to write something fresh and new about European languages and cultures in the foreign language that they study. We are grateful to the EUC for the Foreign Languages Across the Curriculum grant that we received for trying our luck with blog posts because they did the job: students did want to write in a language other than their native language
! What we found to be challenging is that blog posts are a genre that is not necessarily practiced with equal skills and frequency by all those bright students who come to learn more about languages in Europe from us. So, we’ve asked ourselves the question: “How are we going to teach this”?

After more than forty selected blog posts written in five languages in the first year, we can share our trade secret: we did not teach anyone how to write a good blog post because just like writing any other genre from poetry to an inauguration speech, there is no single recipe for it. “Keep it short and lively (pictures and all)” and “Having fun writing the blog is a sign that others might like it” are the best pieces of advice we could give them. The contributing editors of this site (from left to right) on this picture, Eda Derhemi (Italian), Jui Namjoshi, Zsuzsanna Fagyal, Alessia Zulato, and Jessica Nicholas (French) invite *you* to submit comments to our site and wish to thank all of you who have been able to contribute with their insights and questions. Matt, Sebnem, Mike, and Lauren at the EU Center: thank you for your continued support!

Happy Birthday, Bon Anniversaire, Feliz Cumpleaños, Buon Compleanno, Alles Gute zum Geburtstag, Boldog Születésnapot, Gëzuar Ditëlindjen, Linguis Europae!

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Identity Conflicts Among Catalonians: The Many Sides of an Old Story

Jacqueline Yonover is a Global Studies major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She composed this blog entry in the ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ (GER 418) course in the spring of 2013.

by Jacqueline Yonover

Location of Cataluña
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  The Catalan language is a Romance language that is has been characterized by many years of conflict related to issues of identity among the Catalonian people (Gruyter, 2008). It is language that has always maintained linguistic, cultural, and economic differences compared to that of the rest of Spain (Cos Pujolar, 2006).

  The origins of Catalonia’s contemporary linguistic controversy can be traced back to the dynastic developments, which began with the marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile and furthermore the unification of Spain in 1469 (Gruyter, 2008). The state of the Catalan language has changed continuously since the 1400’s—experiencing periods of dominance and also years of serious persecution (Derhemi’s Class Lecture Notes, Spring 2013). The conflict of identity among the Catalonian people is directly related to the 40 years of persecution that the language experienced during the rule of dictator Francisco Franco. Under Franco’s dictatorship the Catalan language was forbidden in all aspects of life, but managed to survive because the language was used among families and friends in private life situations. Since the end of Franco’s dictatorship in 1975 the Catalan language has experienced profound changes in regards to defining elements of nationality, which has created this identity conflict among those living in Catalonia.    

  There are two sides to the Catalonian identity conflict. Some Catalonian’s feel that their identity still is not represented fairly. These individuals view those who do not support the protection of the Catalan language as “Españolistas” (pro-Spain, rather than pro-Catalonia) who continue to hold onto the ideals instilled in their minds during the dictatorship of Franco (Balsells, 2011). 

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  The individuals who are not entirely supportive of the Catalan language are not necessarily against Catalan but feel that, because there is so much emphasis on the Catalan language in Catalonia, the importance of the Castilian language is being overlooked. In the remainder of this blogpost I plan to explore this identity conflict in further detail. I will do so by first looking at the current status of the language. I will then explore various different opinions of Catalonians regarding this identity conflict. Finally, I will conclude this discussion with some final thoughts. All together this blogpost will exhibit how relevant and important this issue is today and it will also show us how much of an impact this conflict has had and continues to have on the lives of individuals living in Spain today.

  Today Catalan enjoys the status as an official language in Catalonia, along side Castilian (Spanish) and is spoken by 13 million people throughout the region of Spain (Vila i Moreno, 2008). This current status, however, was not achieved without a fight. A “fight” that still exists today and can even be felt by those who do not take part in this identity conflict among Catalonians, which takes many forms. It is important to note that Catalan did not gain its current status as an official language until 1994, when the Supreme Court recognized two official languages in Cataluña (Reese, 1996). At this time, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of various articles of the Linguistic Normalization Law (Reese, 1996). These changes can be linked to much of the current identity conflict, which we will look at next.

  As the status of Catalan began to change with the implementation of new laws after the end of the dictatorship of Franco, the identity conflict among Catalonians became very apparent. For example, in November of 1994 Jordi Cruyff, the son of a Barcelona Football Club coach and a soccer player on the Netherlands team, who also holds dual nationality in Spain and the Netherlands was interviewed and asked the following question, “ Do you feel more Dutch or Spanish?” He responded by saying, “Español no. Barcelona esta en Catalonia y no queremos ser españoles/ Spanish no. Barcelona is in Catalonia and we do not want to be Spanish” (Rees, 1996). We can see from this example how this conflict has expanded beyond just being a language conflict and into the realm of individual identity become a conflict of language and identity. 
Flag of Cataloña
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Flag of Spain
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  Not only do many individuals from Catalonia feel that their identity should be recognized as different from the rest of Spain but they feel that Catalonia’s linguistic diversity should be recognized as well in the currency that is used in Catalonia. Reese explains that there are groups of individuals in Catalonia that believe the national currency in Spain does not reflect the linguistic diversity that exists within the country because the currency used in Catalonia and in the rest of Spain is only printed in Castilian (Rees, 1996).

  Some of those who take up the other side of the identity conflict among Catalonians do not fully support many of the laws, which have been implemented in Catalonia aimed at protecting the Catalan language. Especially those laws regarding education. For example, one mother of a grade-schooler in Catalonia felt that her child should receive more classes in Castilian. This mother explains, "I am not against Catalan; I want her to learn it and speak it correctly, but I think it is totally exaggerated to leave out Spanish (Balsells, 2011). However, the law today in Catalonia states that, “Students may choose the language of education in the first years of schooling, but from the age of 8 the “vehicular language” of the regions education system is Catalan” (Balsells, 2011). This mother further expressed her opinion regarding Catalonia’s law regarding education by saying, “This is a clear inequality and they don’t give you any alternatives” (Balsells, 2011). Individuals who have similar views as this mother feel that learning Castilian is important because it is spoken in the rest of Spain and without knowing the language children will be at a disadvantage and therefore limited in terms of job options in the future. Often times these individuals in Catalonia are referred to as “españolistas” (Balsells, 2011).

  Others who take this side of the Catalonian identity conflict do not support that fact that in Catalonia, linguistic maps of Europe’s are available in French, German, and Catalan but they are not available in Castilian (Rees, 1996). They argue that this is another example of the way in which Catalan’s linguistic representation is not fairly recognized. 

  These few examples reflect how prevalent this identity conflict is in virtually every aspect of life in Catalonia ranging from the education system to the national currency, to the language used on maps. This conflict is something that not only impacts the people living in Catalonia but also the entire country as a whole. Regardless of whether one chooses to take a side, the tension of the Catalonian identity conflict is inevitably felt and has been for many years and probably will be for many more years to come. 

Bibliography

Balsells, Ferran. (2011, Sept 15). Spanish or Catalan? A controversy that is anything but academic. El País. Retrieved from http://elpais.com
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. File:Spain flag 300.png. 2013. Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. File:Localización Cataluña.png. 2010. Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License. File:Flag_of_Catalonia.svg.png. 2012. Retrieved from http://commons.wikimedia.org
Cos Pujolar, Joan. (2006). Language, culture and tourism: Perspectives in Barcelona and Catalon ia. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/858927/Language_Culture_and_Tourism_Perspectives_in_Barcelona_and_Catalonia
Derhemi, Eda. (2013). Basque and Catalan [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from http://learn.illinois.edu
Gruyter, Mouton. (2008). Multilingual Europe: Facts and policies. Berlin,KG: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co.
Rees, L. E. (May 1996). Spain’s Linguistic Normalization Laws: The Catalan Controversy. Hispana, 79(2), 313-321. Retrieved from www.jstor.org/stable/344927
Vila I Moreno, F. Xavier. (2008). Catalan in Spain. Multilingual Europe: Facts and Policies,  p 157-183. 

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Friday, October 25, 2013

La Lingua Maltese & Il Prestigio

by Cesar Jauregui

Cesar Jauregui is a French and Italian major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He composed this blog entry on the Maltese language – a Semitic language and one of the official state languages of Malta - in the ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ (ITAL 418) course in the spring of 2013.
Google Maps: http://maps.google.com

  La Malta è un’isola nel mediterraneo ed anché è un paese della Unione Europea. Formalmente conosciuta come La Repubblica di Malta; è uno degli piu piccoli paesi della unione ma anche uno degli pocchi paesi europei che non ha una lingua indo-europea come lingua ufficiale. Il Maltese é una lingua semitica derivata dal siculo-arabo; una lingua antica  ed erà un dialetto del arabo  che erà parlato in Sicilia e Malta. Oggi quel dialetto è diventato la lingua maltese.

  La lingua maltese è stata influenzata per tutti i periodi storici della isola maltesa. Malta è un paese giovane, divenne indipendente nel 1964 e repubblica nel 1974.  Ma la storia di questo paese è più antica che solo dieci anni. Malta è stata parte dell’ Impero Romano e doppo dall’ Impero Byzantino da 533 A.D. fino a 870 quando cadde sotto il controllo arabo. Questo periodo di controllo arabo ha influenzato la isola più che altri periodi; linguisticamente parlando. Nel 1800 la isola cade sotto il controllo inglese. Malta appoggiò il Regno Unito durante la soconda guerra mondiale e subì attachi da parte dei Nazi ed Italiani. Durante il periodo inglese la lingua inglesa diventa anche una parte di Malta ed anch’ora è una parte integrale della società maltese.

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  Malta ha due lingue ufficiali, il maltese ed inglese. La costituzione maltese dice che la lingua maltese ha preferenza sull’ inglese. Il caso linguistico di Malta è sull prestigio della lingua maltese. Sebbene la costituzione dice che la lingua maltese dovrebbe aver più importanza; la situazione è sociale. C’è un caso di prestigio; prima che la lingua inglese è diventata parte di Malta l’italiano aveva il suo posto in termine di prestigio. Il italiano come il inglese sono le lingue delle personne istruite e della aristocrazia. La lingua maltese meno oggi che nell passato aveva il posto di una lingua inferiore che viene utilizzata solo dai contadini. Per questa raggione Malta è diventato un paese dove la popolazione non è solo bilingue ma in molti casi anche trilingue. Oggi, il maltese e il inglese sono utilizatte intercambiabilemente per le personne in Malta, tutto dipende del contesto o la situazione.

  La gierarchia delle lingue in Malta è molto importante. Il maltese ha impotanza come lingua nazionale e culturale. Il inglese ha un posto molto importante nel settore della istruzione ed amministrazione. Nella vita quotidiana c’è un scontro fra il maltese ed il inglese. Quelli che preferiscono usare il inglese più che il maltese sono visti come snob. In Malta essiste una parola per descrivere questi personne “tal-pèpe” (Camilleri 1996). Quelle personne che preferiscono usare solo il maltese non sono visti come snob ma come poco istruiti. Non solo c’è un scontro fra il maltese e il inglese, ma anche tra il maltese standard ed i diversi dialetti della lingua maltese.

  Nella vita quotidiana l’italiano anche forma una parte importante. Nel passato la TV in Malta solo aveva stazioni italiane. Anch’ora la TV è dominata per le stazioni italiane e le stazioni inglese. Può essere che la lingua italiana non entra nella girarchia del prestigio delle lingue oggi in Malta dello stesso modo che la lingua inglese e la lingua maltese ma ha un posto speciale nella vita dei maltese.

Sources
Camilleri, A. (1991). Crosslinguistic Influence in a Bilingual Classroom: The Example of Maltese and       English. Edinburgh Working Papers In Linguistics, (2), 110-111.
HISTORY. (2010). Background Notes on Countries of the World: Malta, 4.

For further information on Maltese in the EU as official language:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I962gir4tGs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhnhkGRVtOE


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Friday, October 11, 2013

Threats to Sami Rights in Norway

by Steven Bieszczat

Steven Bieszczat is a Political Sciece major at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His blog entry on the Sami is the second entry in Linguis Europae, dedicated to Scandinavia’s indigenous migrant minority language groups. Steven wrote this blog entry in the ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ (PS 418) course in the spring of 2013.

  All dialects of the Sami language are considered endangered languages today.This is the case because for centuries the native Sami peoples of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia have been the subject of cultural oppression, territorial infringement, and rights violations. Long before the settlement of northern Scandinavia by Finns, Russians, and Nordic-speaking peoples, the Sami utilized the land for hunting, fishing, and herding reindeer. The Sami have lived in the area for thousands of years, speakers of a non-Indo European language that is related to Finnish and Estonian.2 


    Today, there are roughly 60,000 people of Sami descent living throughout these four countries, the majority of whom reside within the borders of present-day Norway.3 

  During the Middle Ages, the population of Nordic-speaking peoples increased, and many of them migrated and settled in the Sami-inhabited regions of northern Scandinavia.4 Colonization eventually led to the claim of territorial sovereignty over these lands, ultimately reducing the amount of land available to the indigenous Sami. The policies that these respective state governments would enact over the years would come to threaten the traditional Sami way of life. 

    In Norway, in particular, throughout much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Sami were the target of state policies aimed at assimilation of the Sami and the eradication of their culture. ‘Norwegianization’ laws, such as that of 1902, forbade the ownership of land by non-Norwegian speaking peoples.5 More than anything, however, ‘Norwegianization’s’ main tool was language policy. According to Henry Minde, a professor at the University of Tromsø in Norway, the assimilation policies were strengthened in 1880 when “an instruction issued by the Directors of Tromsø Diocese … stated that all Sami children were to learn, speak, and write Norwegian, while all previous clauses saying that children were to learn their native tongue were repealed.”6 These types of edicts and laws effectively removed the use of native Sami languages from schools, and imposed Norwegian culture and language on Sami individuals.
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  The effects of such policies in Norway can be seen in the current statuses of Sami languages in Norway According to UNESCO, North Sami, the most widely spoken Sami dialect, is ‘definitely endangered’, while other dialects such as Lule, Pite, and South Sami are listed as ‘severely endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’.7 Today, however, Norway’s overtly assimilationist policies and practices are now a thing of the past thanks much progress that has been made over the last 60 years.

  In 1956, the Nordic Sami Council was created.8 Nine years later, the Norwegian Cultural Fund was established to “preserve and encourage Sami culture and literature.”9 There were major breakthroughs in the 1980’s. A 1988 addendum to the Norwegian Constitution declared it “the responsibility of the authorities of the state to create conditions enabling the Sami people to preserve and develop its language, culture and way of life”.10 In 1992, the Sami Parliament was created to perform specific functions in regards to protecting the interests of the Sami people.11  




  Today, the Sami language is protected by the European Charter for Regional or Minority languages, and enjoys the status of a national official language in Norway.12 


  However, discrimination against the Sami still persists in Norway today. As recently as 2011, tensions flared in the northern Norwegian/Sami city of Tromsø, a city located within a region of Norway where both Norwegian and Sami are considered official languages. The popularly elected conservative government of Tromsø in Autumn of 2011 decided not to enact a law that would have created bilingual road signs. The idea of including the Sami language was widely opposed by many non-Sami Norwegian residents.  The Sami people of Tromsø held protests in opposition to this decision, and many wore their traditional Sami clothing inside out as a sign of their protest. The police had to be called on one occasion after an anonymous letter was sent to a Sami official that depicted the Sami flag with a swastika on it, and pictured Hitler wearing traditional Sami clothing.13 

  There have also been other instances of discrimination against the Sami and the Sami language. In 1994, for example, a conservative member of the Norwegian Parliament called a fellow member of Parliament an ‘extremist’ after she delivered part of her speech in a Sami dialect.14 

  These events and others have called into question the extent to which discrimination against the Sami of Norway has subsided. Other issues such as the actual power of the Sami Parliament to protect Sami fishing rights and the natural environment in which they live from offshore drilling by oil companies15 are in question.  While the situation for the Sami in Norway has drastically improved since the assimilation policies of years ago, hostility, discrimination, and discontent are still ever-present.


1. UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/index.php?hl=en&page=atlasmap. 2010.
2. Svonni, Mikael. “Sami Languages in the Nordic Countries and Russia”. Multilingual Europe: Facts and Policies. Mouton de Gruyter: 2008. P. 235-236.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.
5. Forrest, Scott. “Territoriality and State-Sami Relations”. University of Northern British Columbia. http://arcticcircle.uconn.edu/HistoryCulture/Sami/samisf.html.
6. Minde, Henry. “Assimilation of the Sami – Implementation and Consequences. Journal of Indigenous People’s Rights. No. 3. (2005): http://www.galdu.org/govat/doc/mindeengelsk.pdf. P. 13
7. UNESCO Interactive Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger. http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/index.php?hl=en&page=atlasmap. 2010.
8. UNHCR: The U.N. Refugee Agency. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,MRGI,,NOR,49749cd45,0.html.
9. Helander, Elina. “The Sami of Norway”. http://www.reisenett.no/norway/facts/culture_science/sami.html.
10. UNHCR: The U.N. Refugee Agency. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,MRGI,,NOR,49749cd45,0.html.
11. Sami Parliament Act of 1992. http://www.sametinget.se/9865.
12. European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, Second Periodical Report, Norway. March, 2002. http://www.regjeringen.no/nb/dep/kud/dok/rapporter_planer/rapporter/2002/European-charter-for-regional-or-minority-languages.html?id=420162#5. The Sami language.
13. “Sami-Norwegian Conflict Turns Hostile”. November 4, 2011. http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/11/04/sami-norwegian-conflict-turns-hostile/.
14. UNHCR: The U.N. Refugee Agency. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/publisher,MRGI,,NOR,49749cd45,0.html.
15. Aamb, Kristian Osnes. “Oil Development in the North – Concerted Dialogue or a Dialogue for Concern?”. 2012. http://munin.uit.no/bitstream/handle/10037/4064/thesis.pdf?sequence=2.
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