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.

Monday, December 28, 2015

“A laughter that will bury you”… or maybe will keep a language alive! On the local language of Parma

“Una risata vi seppellirà”… o forse terrà viva una lingua! Sulla lingua locale di Parma

by Fara Taddei

Fara Faddei is a graduate student in French Studies at the University of Illinois. She is currently completing her studies of French literature and culture and planning on enlarging her research to world literature. She is interested in Europe and cinema all over the world. She wrote this blog post while enrolled in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.’

Piazza Garibaldi, centro di Parma. Foto di Carlo Ferrari.
Come si crea una risata di gusto? Gli ideatori di io parlo parmigiano, serie di sketch comici nata su Facebook e cresciuta nelle piazze, condiscono le loro risate con un’abbondante dose di dialetto parmigiano, la lingua propria della città di Parma. Parma, nota in tutto il mondo per le tradizionali prodezze gastronomiche, quali formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano e prosciutto crudo di Parma, è una città di circa 200.000 abitanti, situata nella regione del Nord-Italia chiamata Emilia-Romagna. Come ogni città italiana, anche Parma ha ereditato dal passato una lingua sua propria, esclusa dal livello di utilizzo ufficiale e alto dalle lingue dei signori (le famiglie Farnese, Borbone, Asburgo-Lorena tramite il ducato di Maria Luisa, moglie di Napoleone Bonaparte) prima e dall’avvento dell’Italiano poi.

La pagina Facebook di io parlo parmigiano.
Il dialetto parmigiano è rimasto la lingua del popolo fino a che la televisione non ha portato l’Italiano nelle case di tutti, insegnando la lingua nazionale ai parlanti delle miriadi di lingue locali unitamente al cinema e alla radio (Marazzini 47). Il media televisivo non solo faceva capo alla Rai (Radio Televisione Italiana), organismo statale in cui la lingua di lavoro e di trasmissione era ed è l’Italiano, ma proponeva anche vere e proprie trasmissioni educative dedicate all’alfabetizzazione e all’insegnamento della lingua italiana – come il programma a cura del maestro Andrea Manzi, Non è mai troppo tardi. Il parmigiano è ora un residuo del variegato mosaico linguistico precedente all’avvento dell’Italiano come lingua nazionale. I livelli di diglossia (D’Agostino 81) si affievoliscono sempre più e le tracce di una trasmissione intergenerazionale sono di natura puntuale e per niente sistematica. Eppure, una serie di espressioni sono evase dal contesto ristretto degli ultimi parlanti di dialetto e sono diventate patrimonio di tutti i parmigiani. Sono come formule magiche che evocano immediatamente il buon umore. Le più diffuse sono:

Parte del gruppo di io parlo parmigiano
Nadör (anatra, traslato per persona tonta)

Tolasudolsa (non prendertela)

Sbasa la grèsta (non esagerare)

Sta su da dos (smettila di darmi fastidio)

Abbiamo intervistato i creatori del progetto comico io parlo parmigiano per sentire un parere di prima mano su dialetto, comicità e Parma. Il gruppo si compone di Luca Conti e Mirko Leraghi, fondatori, a cui si aggiungono presto Riccardo Rico Montanini e Danilo Baroz Barozzi.

Salame e Lambrusco
Cominciano senza prendersi troppo sul serio: “Il “progetto” è nato per ridere, non era un progetto ma si stavano solo ricordando alcune parole in dialetto parmigiano, un sabato sera [davanti a una fetta di salame e un bicchiere di Lambrusco, stando alla pagina di presentazione sul blog]. Ci siamo accorti che molta gente non lo parlava affatto […]. Mirko e Luca fanno una pagina su Facebook e subito Enrico Maletti [, amico e consulente,] corregge puntualmente ogni errore ortografico. Qui ci accorgiamo che c'è bisogno di scrivere il dialetto correttamente, qui nasce il “progetto” di “tornare a parlare dialetto, e bene”. Raccontano che il dialetto l’hanno imparato “in casa, dai genitori o dai nonni, per strada dai vari personaggi della città o dei paesi”, in un classico esempio di trasmissione familiare e comunitaria.  Ma si rendono conto di essere parte di “quelle generazioni che […] il dialetto lo avevano quasi perso nell'uso comune”. Per verificare la precisione linguistica usano un dizionario Italiano-Parmigiano, quello di Guglielmo Capacchi, ma in caso di dubbi si riferiscono all’esperto del, ancora? Maletti, e “siamo sicuri di non sbagliare”.  È interessante notare che il team comico attinga anche alla letteratura in parmigiano, ricca di opere in prosa o in poesia.

Stemma di Parma
Interpellati riguardo all’uso del dialetto, i membri del gruppo lo definiscono “istintivo”, ma senza niente di “nostalgico o patriottico”. La definizione del Parmigiano come lingua è molto interessante e parla delle convinzioni linguistiche che permeano non solo Parma, ma molte città italiane: il Parmigiano è “un modo di esprimersi che merita di vivere ed espandersi. Una lingua viva che ha i suoi modi per esprimere determinati concetti, che traducendoli perdono di efficacia. Vorremmo che il dialetto fosse questo, comprensibile a tutti”. E se i creatori di io parlo parmigiano all’inizio dell’intervista erano riluttanti a prendersi sul serio, è bastato arrivare alla domanda finale, riguardo la reazione di città e enti pubblici, per scoprire che, anche se con la spontaneità di un gioco, le soddisfazioni e le idee ci sono. Vedere l’entusiasmo che gli sketch mettono in moto fra “tutte le generazioni” dei cittadini parmigiani è una grande gioia e forse un giorno addirittura vorrebbero insegnare questa lingua recuperata nelle scuole... ma solo “quando [, il dialetto,] lo sapremo bene anche noi”.

Dietro le risate in Parmigiano c’è dunque un senso di appartenenza. Un inside joke grande quanto una città intera, che si inserisce in una tradizione comica forte insieme alle maschere comiche teatrali. Formule magiche in grado di strappare una risata a chi fa parte della cerchia cittadina e idee per rinnovare una lingua che, sotto la cenere, è ancora vispa e vitale.


Bibliografia

D’Agostino, Mari. Sociolinguistica dell’Italia contemporanea. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2004. Print.

Marazzini, Claudio. Breve storia della lingua italiana. Bologna: Il Mulino, 2007. Print.

Non è mai troppo tardi (1968) http://www.rai.tv/dl/RaiTV/programmi/media/ContentItem-7c96ad51-532d-46c0-8059-24ed6f4f7c3a.html

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Sprichst Du Italienisch? (Parli Italiano?) La Questione di Lingua sulle Alpi

by Michelle Cozzini

Michelle Cozzini is a graduate student in the Master Program in Accounting Science at the University of Illinois. Of Italian origin, Michelle is planning on working in Ernest and Young LLP Financial and Tax services in the near future. S/he wrote this text in the 418, ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ course in the spring of 2015.

La regione di Trentino – Alto Adige è una delle regioni più a nord d’Italia e confina con l’Austria. Anche se la provincia rimane parte dell’Italia, i cittadini trentini non si sentono Italiani, e per la maggior parte nella città di Bolzano, e in altri paesi del Südtirol, non parlano neanche italiano. Questa parte d’Italia è interessante riguardo al rispetto che la lingua tiene sul nazionalismo. Per esempio, se vai in Trentino, i punti più a nord della provincia avranno tantissimi segni che allegano alla cultura tedesca. La mia ricerca su questo tema identifica la storia come spiegazione dell’importanza del tedesco nella cultura. Poi, provo a spiegare l’importanza che i cittadini sentono di mantenere questa cultura e collegamento con l’Austria, anche se il Trentino-Alto Adige è terra Italiana.  Infine, faccio un’analisi della città di Bolzano come un esempio dell’importanza del tedesco nella zona.

Il Trentino Alto-Adige chiaramente trova le sue radici con l’Austria. Questa regione è diventata parte dell’Italia dopo la prima Guerra mondiale, quando fu annessa al Reich (Roberto Almagia, Enciclopedia Italiana – Alto Adige). Anche se a questo punto l’Alto Adige comincia il suo destino con L’Italia, i cittadini non aderiscono alla cultura Italiana. Poco tempo dopo, la seconda Guerra mondiale fa ritornare un senso di oppressione della popolazione sudtirolese nel Trentino. Nel Novembre del 1938 Hitler e Mussolini condividono che la popolazione mantiene troppo la cultura tedesca e i sudtirolesi devono rilocarsi (SüdTiroler Freiheit, La Storia Breve dal 1918).  Almagia scrive, “ Hitler sottoscrisse nel novembre 1938 degli accordi culturali italo-germanici, a dimostrazione del suo desiderio d’intesa con l'Italia. Però li completava poco dopo con gli accordi del 23 giugno 1939, circa il trasferimento degli allogeni entro i confini del Reich, sulla base di richieste liberamente e singolarmente espresse da parte degli interessati.” Questa informazione non è importante solamente per la storia ma anche per capire i sentimenti della popolazione. È molto interessante vedere che Hitler aiuta Mussolini a portare cittadini di lingua italiana alla provincia, ma allo stesso tempo deve trovare posto per i sudtirolesi, perché secondo Hitler non sono neanche tedeschi. La popolazione Trentina ha sopportato un’oppressione da due lati in questo periodo. Con la fine della guerra e la caduta del nazismo, il Trentino rimane parte dell’Italia, ma senza tanto aiuto dal governo Italiano. Almagia continua a spiegare che il 29 gennaio 1948, la Costituente Italiana dà l’autonomia alla provincia di Trentino – Alto Adige, comunque non appoggia la cultura già stabilita, e neanche incoraggia l’uso dell’Italiano come prima lingua. L’autonomia che la regione ha ricevuto in questo momento era uguale all’autonomia delle altre provincie italiane. Per essere felici, i Trentini vorrebbero l’autonomia nel senso dell’indipendenza o diventare parte dell’Austria – la madrepatria.

Oggi, l’orgoglio austriaco ancora rimane con i cittadini. Non sentono un collegamento con l’Italia da nessuna parte. Si può anche capire che l’azione dell’Italia durante la seconda guerra non ha aiutato a migliorare questo sentimento. Ci sono certi modi di spiegare questo sentimento d’indipendenza di oggi, ma i più forti vengono dall’economia e governo. Il governo segue molto più da vicino quello che succede in Austria rispetto all’economia o la politica, invece di Roma. In questo senso le forme di commercio, affari, e gli scambi politici assomigliano molto di più alla Germania o all’Austria (Silvia Marchetti, Newsweek Global). Marchetti spiega che il prodotto interno lordo a Bolzano per l’anno 2013 è 37,000 euro mentre quello a Napoli è solamente 16,000 euro. Turismo, agricoltura, e commercio contribuiscono all’alto prodotto interno lordo. Per i cittadini del Trentino – Alto Adige, l’autonomia della provincia non è abbastanza. I cittadini non hanno più voglia di sostenere l’economia italiana se non sono italiani. SüdTiroler Freiheit, un partito politico che appoggia l’indipendenza del Trentino – Alto Adige, non riconosce la bandiera italiana come simbolo della patria. Marchetti scrive che la bandiera italiana è un simbolo dell’oppressione dal governo italiano nel territorio suo. In più, i trentini dicono che il governo italiano prova a distruggere la loro identità culturale.

Il partito politico SüdTiroler Freiheit è stabilito nel 2007 e per la maggior parte mantiene l’appoggio della popolazione di Bolzano. Bolzano è uno dei posti più conosciuti in Italia per i suoi desideri d’indipendenza. Il 21 maggio 2013 Flavia Marimpietri da Rai Uno è andata a una manifestazione a Bolzano per chiedere ai cittadini se si sentono di essere italiani. Per la maggior parte, non capivano neanche la domanda. In altre parole, i cittadini di Bolzano non parlano italiano, o nel caso che parlano italiano hanno l’accento come se fossero tedeschi che parlino italiano. Secondo loro, Bolzano non è Italia, ma un territorio occupato dall’Italia. Si può vedere dal video che la cultura austriaca è ben sostenuta nella cultura locale dai vestiti, balli, e ovviamente la lingua. In conclusione, la storia del Trentino – Alto Adige è lunga e continua oggi con i suoi battiti contro l’Italia. Vedremo nei prossimi anni se le diverse culture vinceranno e realizzeranno le loro indipendenze.

References

"Alto Adige." Enciclopedia Italiana. Treciani.it, n.d. Web. <http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/alto-adige_res-216acc7a-87e5-11dc-8e9d-0016357eee51_%28Enciclopedia-Italiana%29/>.

"Il Movimento Sudtirolese per La Libertà." SüdTiroler Freiheit. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.    <http://www.suedtiroler-freiheit.com/informazione-italiano/>.

Marchetti, Silvia. "Italiano Nein." Newsweek Global 162.3 (2014): 131-35. Academic Search    Premier. Web. 6 Mar. 2015.

Sud-Tirolo, Qui Non è Italia. Perf. Flavia Marimpietri. N.p., 23 May 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.    <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEvA0f_w7zw&sns=em>.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

The Political Alphabet: The Cyrillic Alphabet in Non-Slavic Languages

by Bethany Wages

Bethany Wages is graduate student in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (R.E.E.S) at the University of Illinois. When she wrote this blog post in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’ in the spring of 2015, she was planning on getting her M.A. in R.E.E.S and her MS in Library and Information Science. She is interested in Slavic reference librarianship and pre-Revolutionary Russian history.

The Cyrillic alphabet is most commonly associated with the Slavic languages of Russia and Eastern Europe. According to the online encyclopedia of writing systems and languages, Omniglot.com:
The Cyrillic script is named after Saint Cyril, a missionary from Byzantium who, along with his brother, Saint Methodius, created the Glagolitic script. Modern Cyrillic alphabets developed from the Early Cyrillic script, which was developed during the 9th century in the First Bulgarian Empire (AD 681-1018) by a decree of Boris I of Bulgaria (Борис I). It is thought that St. Kliment of Ohrid, a disciple of Cyril and Methodius, was responsible for the script.
But what does an alphabet born in the Byzantine Empire have to do with languages whose origins are Turkic, Arabic, Caucasian, Urgic or even Chinese? This blog post will briefly attempt to address the historical reasons for Cyrillic script in non-slavic languages, which languages still use the Cyrillic alphabet, and the political controversy of the use of the Cyrillic alphabet after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The following image, taken from the language website Omniglot.com, is an example of the current Russian Cyrillic alphabet with phonetic representations of each letter.

Image Source

The above alphabet was implemented in the newly formed Soviet Union in 1918 as to be more efficient, in the eyes of the Soviet government, than Old Orthodox Church Cyrillic.

The adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet into non-slavic languages stems from the Russification projects Stalin implemented during his Great Purges in 1939. During this time all languages within the USSR which previously used Latin alphabets were switched to Cyrillic alphabets which were modelled after the Russian alphabet. Under Stalin's rule, some languages in the Caucasian area were switched to Georgian script, but after he died they too were switched to Cyrillic. Cyrillicization continued throughout the USSR from the 1950s onward.

The complete list of languages which use Cyrillic alphabets is as follows: Russian, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Rusyn, Bulgarian, Serbian, Macedonian, Montenegrin, Bosnian, Karelian, Kildin Sami, Komi-Permyak, Mari alphabets, Kurdish, Ossetian, Tajik, Khalkha, Buryat, Kalmyk, Abkhaz, Avar, Lezgian, Azerbaijani, Bashkir, Chuvash, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tatar, Turkmen, Uzbek, Dungan, Tungusic languages, Chukotko-Kamchatkan languages, Eskimo-Aleut languages, and many other languages ("Cyrillic Alphabet," Omniglot). During Soviet rule this list was much longer, but “the end of the Soviet Union brought about another re-evaluation of the Cyrillic scripts and a fresh set of changes. As the Soviet era drew to a close, the component parts of the USSR began to assert their independence. As early as 1989, Moldova changed officially from Cyrillic to Latin script, making the written Moldovan identical with written Romanian. Even before this, moves towards latinisation had begun among the Turkic-speaking peoples of Central Asia" (Sebba).

So why is this important? Recently, Putin reinstated the idea that no alphabet, other than Cyrillic, will be acceptable in countries who reside within or receive stimulus from the Russian Federation. An example of this situation is the Kyrgyz language switch to the Cyrillic alphabet in 2002. What sparked the imposing of Cyrillic for a second time in the Eurasian region was the attempt of Tatarstan to romanize its language. In an article titled “Ideology and alphabets in the former USSR,” professor of Lancaster University Mark Sebba states that “In 2002 the Russian parliament passed a law requiring all official languages within the Russian Federation to use the Cyrillic alphabet. The legislation caused great controversy and anger in some quarters, especially in Tatarstan, the Russian republic whose attempt to romanise the script for the Tatar language provoked the new law” (Sebba).

Another example of this power move by the Russian Federation can be found in an article titled “Linguistic Policy in Kyrgyzstan,” professor of Humanities Nelly Portnova states that “[t]he main stimulus for changing the alphabet is that Cyrillic is associated with Russia and a geopolitical impasse, while the Latin alphabet is associated with western-type prosperity, in particular, with the alternative of a non-orthodox Muslim state, i.e. with Turkey" (Portnova).

In an extreme case, the country of Azerbaijan's Azeri speaking peoples have endured four script changes within the last century.  “In the twentieth century, Azerbaijan’s ‘‘scriptal environment,’’ to use Trix’s (1997: 1) apt term, has been dominated by three scripts, each promoted by a powerful adjacent neighbor emphasizing particular shared links: Arabic promoted by Iran, Cyrillic promoted by Russia, and Latin promoted by Turkey. After the Soviet Union incorporated Azerbaijan as a republic in 1920, the Soviets initiated a script shift from Arabic to Latin to divide the nation from Iran and its Muslim roots. A decade later, the Soviets forced another shift from the Latin to the Cyrillic script to alienate Azerbaijan and the Turkic republics from Turkey and from each other. Today, after independence in 1991, the pendulum has swung back in favor of the Latin script" (Hatcher).


The above picture, taken from Farida Sadikhova and Marjan Abadi's article “Where's the Azeri?”,  represents how confusing Azerbaijan's society has become. Here we see Cyrillyc and Latin scripts, along with English translation, and yet the actual Azeri script (which is an Arabic script) is nowhere to be seen. While some may consider language policy a soft political maneuver when compared to things like economic policy, language policies, such as the Cyrillic policy, infringe upon the culture and identity of non-slavic ethnicities and countries, such as Kyrgyzstan whose language origins are not Slavic. Political power can clearly be imposed through linguistic policy.

Bibliography

“Cyrillic alphabet.” http://www.omniglot.com/writing/langalph.htm#cyrillic (accessed March29, 2015).

“Cyrillic script.” http://www.omniglot.com/writing/cyrillic.htm (accessed March 28, 2015).

Hatcher, Lynley. "Script Change in Azerbaijan: Acts of Identity."International Journal OfThe Sociology Of Language 192, (2008): 105-116 (accessed March 28, 2015).

Portnova, Nelly. “Linguistic Policy in Kyrgyzstan.”  CA&CC Press. 2002. http://www.ca-    c.org/journal/2002/journal_eng/cac-06/11.porteng.shtml. (accessed March 29, 2015).

Sadikhova, Farida and Marjan Abadi. “Where's the Azeri?” Azerbaijan International. Spring, 2000, no     8.1: http://www.azeri.org/Azeri/az_english/81_folder/81_articles/81_storenames.html (accessed     April 18, 2015).

Sebba, Mark. 2006. "Ideology and alphabets in the former USSR.” Language Problems &Language Planning 30, no. 2: 99-125 (accessed March 28, 2015).

Silver, Brian. “The Impact of Urbanization and Geographical Dispersion on the Linguistic     Russification of Soviet Nationalities.” Demography. Vol. 11, No. 1 (Feb., 1974), pp.89-103. (accessed March 28, 2015).

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Les langues sont belles : Codeswitchons!

by Katherine Stegman-Frey

Katherine Stegman-Frey is a graduate student in Hispanic Linguistics at the University of Illinois. She is planning on teaching English and Spanish as a second language and is interested in language and culture and how humans use them. She wrote this blog entry as a student in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.'

En 2015, du 14 au 22 mars, on a fêté la 20e semaine de la langue française et de la Francophonie.  Comme contribution, le CSA (le Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel) a affiché un clip sur Youtube où il s’agit du code-switching et de l’emprunt lexical de l’anglais au français.

Il va sans dire que le sujet de l’utilisation des mots anglais, des anglicismes, dans les interactions françaises est vraiment vivant et toujours disputé.  En même temps, l’emprunt des mots n’est pas un nouveau phénomène pour les deux côtés de la Manche.  Il existe depuis longtemps et il y a beaucoup d’exemples dans l’histoire.  On trouve quelques néologismes établis comme tennisman et redingote et quelques uns plus récents comme le weekend et on y go.

Historiquement, on pourrait considérer l’invasion et la conquête normande de l’île britannique en 1066 comme une sorte de hyper-exemple de l’échange du vocabulaire.  Un grand pourcentage du lexique anglais d’aujourd’hui peut être tracé au français anglo-normand.  A travers l’histoire, par moyen des interactions économiques, militaires, intellectuelles, etc. entre les royaumes, les langues étaient transformées.

L’emprunt lexical n’est qu’un cas entre l’anglais et le français.  Il faut simplement considérer la Renaissance qui a fomenté l’emprunt des mots italiens au français.  Des poètes de la Pléiade, comme Ronsard, tout en développant des mots des racines grecques et latines, ont emprunté des mots italiens au français.

En 1635, le cardinal Richelieu a créé l’Académie française pour maintenir la pureté du français, établir un système d’orthographe et pour purger le français des néologismes excessifs de la Renaissance.  L’Académie française continue à protéger le français aujourd’hui.

Le clip du CSA, intitulé « Stop aux anglicismes.  La campagne vidéo : ‘Notre langue est belle, utilisons-la.’ », offre une des perspectives dans le débat d’aujourd’hui.  Il est bref et on n’a aucun doute sur ce qui constitue le message du clip.  Dans un café-bar, un homme parle à une belle femme de sa journée.  Pendant l’échange, l’homme emploie beaucoup de mots anglais.  La quantité d’anglicismes entrave la compréhension de la conversation de la part de la femme et du publique.  La femme perd patience et elle lui parle en anglais en demandant qu’il choisisse une des deux langues.  Elle découvre que l’homme ne comprend pas l’anglais et elle part.  L’homme est découragé et il se dit, « single again ».  Le clip finit avec un slogan à faveur de l’utilisation du français pur et pour l’arrêt de l’emploi des anglicismes.

Dans l’ensemble, le clip ne dure que trente-six secondes, mais la durée est suffisante pour choquer l’audience.  Sans considérer tous les détails, on n’a aucun problème à comprendre le thème central.  Une analyse du clip donne une perspective avec plus de détails.  Premièrement, il faut considérer le contexte de l’interaction ; il est évident qu’il s’agit d’un homme qui essaie de draguer la femme.  La raison pour laquelle il ne réussit pas est qu’il ne parle  pas un niveau de français assez élevé.  Donc la leçon du clip est qu’il faut bien parler pour être charmant et, ensuite, pour avoir du succès dans les projets amoureux.

Deuxièmement, le discours de l’homme exagère les anglicismes.  Il y a une cinquantaine de mots et onze parmi eux qui sont des anglicismes.  La quantité d’anglicismes donne un air prétentieux et peu naturel à la conversation.  Le clip ridiculise l’expression des gens qui utilisent des anglicismes.

Il n’est pas étonnant de trouver des diverses réactions.  L’organisation franco-états-unienne de l’université de Texas, Français interactif, a réagi d’une manière négative.  Cette organisation travaille pour faciliter l’enseignement de la langue et de la civilisation françaises.  Sur leur site Facebook ils ont mis une publication contre le clip.

Une postulation réaliste des résultats de ce clip est la provocation comme celle de Français interactif.  L‘état et la protection du français a une place principale dans la société  française.  On voit son importance dans la législation, comme le manque de ratification de la Charte européenne des langues régionales ou minoritaires.

Mais, pourquoi est-ce que cette publicité ne critique que des anglicismes ?  Une explication tentative est l’augmentation de l’anglais comme lingua franca en Europe et dans le monde entier.  L’adoption de l’anglais dans les domaines français.  Cette invasion a précipité des réactions et critiques qu’on voit dans les media comme celle du CSA.

C’est vrai que la langue française est belle et qu’elle mérite l’utilisation fréquente, mais mérite-t-elle de se moquer des possibilités offertes par le code-switching et l’emprunt ?   Qu’est-ce que vous en pensez ?

Sources:

Ici on parle français. Web. Mars 28 2015. < http://ttfrench.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/4/7/13476618/689270_orig.jpg>

Keep calm and parle à ma main. Web. 26 Mars 2015. <http://sd.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/i/keep-calm-and-parle-a-ma-main.png>

Stop aux anglicismes La campagne vidéo: «  Notre langue est belle, utilisons-la». LeCafé du FLE Web. 26 Mars 2015. <http://www.lecafedufle.fr/2015/03/stop-aux-anglicismes-campagne-video-notre-langue-belle-utilisons/>.

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Monday, November 2, 2015

What’s in a language name? Asturian, Leonese, and Mirandese as “Astur-Leonés”?

by María Elena Guitiérrez

María Elena Guitiérrez is a graduate student in Spanish Linguistics at the University of Illinois. She is completing her Masters degree and is interested in bilingualism and second-language acquisition research. She wrote this blog entry as a student in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.'

The name of a language is never neutral. There are many social and political implications involved when naming a language, according to Smitherman who examines language and ideology surrounding African American English in her 1991 paper. A language name represents important social information about the group of people who speak that language, especially where minority languages are concerned.

Sometimes in language naming practices, language activists create a single name for several different language varieties that historically and politically have several different names. For instance, in the case of “Serbo-Croatian,” it can either be said that it consists of one, two, three, or four languages; it all depends on the political and social perspectives of whom you ask, suggest Bugarski (2004) and Leglise (2006).

When we look at minority languages, the situation can become even more complicated. For example, in his publication El dialecto leonés, the linguist Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1906) grouped together all the spoken varieties that were used in the former Kingdom of León under one unifying language name: Leonés. This unifying term grouped the language varieties spoken in Asturian, Leonese, and Mirandese regions.

When a unifying term, such as Leonés, is created for several different minority languages, what does this mean for the smaller language varieties that are stripped of their language names by the larger unifying term? Do speakers want to identify with the unifying language name, or do they feel compelled to hold onto the local name of their dialect?

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When a language is standardized, the language naming process has social implications. This can be seen in the example of the standardization efforts of the minority languages in this region of the Iberian Peninsula.

According to García Gil (2008), one will likely hear Astur-Leonés, as opposed to Leonés as the unifying term today. Astur-Leonés is described as an unofficial regional language and is used in Spain’s periodic reports for the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Nevertheless, the region of Asturias has a standardized written form of their language variety, which they call Asturiano or Bable, and they even use it in their education system. On the other hand, the region of León hasn’t created a standardized, written form of Leonés.

Why is it important whether or not Asturiano has a standardized written form and Leonés does not? Well, since Asturias has made stronger efforts than León to revitalize their local language in the past few decades, the younger generations living in León actually say that they speak Astur-Leonés or Bable, not Leonés. This was shown by González Riaño & García Arias in 2006 when they studied the region of León and noticed that the people there did not consider Leonés their local language but rather as a reference of their identity. As a result, Leonés is not used as a language name anymore, even though it was once used as a broad language name for all the varying dialects of the region.

When language activists create a unifying term, like Astur-Leonés, there can be consequences for the names of the minority language varieties. Leonés is now considered to be a reference of identity, not a language name, and this name is only used in conjunction with Asturiano, in the unifying term Astur-Leonés. In the efforts to save a minority language group, it seems that it is also possible to lose sight of other smaller, non-standardized minority language varieties.

While individuals of a minority group may continue to identify with a particular language name, it doesn’t mean that it is accepted as a name for another minority language spoken in the region. As the Leonese people hold onto their cultural identity, the identity of their language is quickly shifting towards the more standardized and recognized variety – Asturiano.

Resources:

Bugarski, Ranko (2004). What’s in a name: The case of Serbo-Croatian. Revue des études Slaves 75: 11-20.

Conceyu Abiertu Pola Oficialida. Na Reforma Del Estatu, Doi La Cara Pola Oficialida. Digital image. https://www.flickr.com/potos/doilacara/. 11 Aug. 2010. Web.

García Arias Xosé Lluis & Xosé Antón González Riaño (2006). Estudio sociollingüísticu de Lleón. Identidá, conciencia d’usu y actitúes lingüísticas en las fasteres que llenden con Astueries. Uviéu: Academia de la Llingua Asturiana.

García Gil, Héctor (2007). Al otru llau del cordal: Narrativa llionesa na nuesa llingua (1980-2006) La emancipación de la lliteratura asuriana. Crónica y balance de la narrativa contemporánea. 133-148.

Léglise, Isabelle (2006). Language-naming practices, ideologies, and linguistic practices: Toward a comprehensive description of language varieties. Language in Society 35: 313-39.

Menéndez Pidal, Ramón (1906). El dialecto Leonés (ed. Facsímil 2006). León: Ediciones El Búho Viajero.

Smitherman, Geneva (1991). ‘What is Africa to me?’ Language, ideology, and African American American Speech 66:115-32.
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Monday, October 19, 2015

The Wealth of Welsh

by Delvan Willis

Delvan Willis is a junior in Political Science at the University of Illinois. He is planning on attending law school after graduation and is interested in International Relations, especially in regards to the Middle East. He wrote this piece while enrolled in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.’

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In case you couldn’t grasp the meaning of the title, this blog is about the struggles and triumphant revitalization of the Welsh language. First a little background on the Welsh language is important! It is the official language (along with English) of Wales, but that is a big problem since only a little more than half a million of the population of about 3 million of Wales can speak the language! To have an official language that such a small percentage of the population is able to speak fluently seems problematic. Consider, however, that this small percentage of speakers is actually an improvement on past times. According to the 1911 census, at the beginning of the 20th century, out of a population of just under 2.5 million, 43.5% of those aged three years and upwards in Wales and Monmouthshire (a county in south east Wales) spoke Welsh. One might say that this was decent for a nation with two official languages, but at it turns out this was the beginning of a downward slope for Welsh. By 1931, at the time of the next large census, out of a population of just over 2.5 million, the percentage of Welsh speakers in Wales had dropped to 36.8%. It was around this time that many began to think that if nothing is done Welsh would eventually disappear in a few generations.

But why? Why was Welsh starting to disappear? Why wasn’t there more being done to prevent this trend from continuing? Most people who care about the legacy of a language and culture would begin to ask these questions, so here some answers to your questions.

The biggest problem for Welsh in the early 20th century was because it had not made the list of Wales’ official languages list fast enough to prevent language shift to English. Welsh was beginning to disappear because more and more people began to saw English as the only important medium of communication. Demographic changes and loss of people due to wars did not help either. Indeed, the time when the Wels language saw the biggest drop in people who could speak it was after WWII.

Already during WWII, English became the uncontested language of communication among the allies and its global reach has only intensified during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Well, you might ask, English took the front seat, but what about the people who still spoke and preferred Welsh? Why should their language be shoved out of the picture in the same time? The unified response of the Welsh people to this question eventually led to the Welsh Language Act of 1967. This act was meant to “make further provision with respect to the Welsh language and references in Acts of Parliament to Wales”, which amounted to new domains of use for the language. Welsh was allowed in the Courts that were previously functioning only in English and its teaching was extended in the entire educational system. If you look at the graph, though, these measures did not make much difference for the speakers: the number of Welsh speakers did not increase in any age category during the 1970s and 1980s. Something else had to be done. Then came the Welsh Language Act of 1993. This new language law set up the Welsh Language Board which promoted the use of Welsh even more widely, while ensuring compliance with the other provisions and gave Welsh speakers the right to speak Welsh in court proceedings and all organizations in the public sector. One important step for the increase of the status of the Welsh language in Wales was the obligation to provide services to the public in Welsh and English on an equal basis.

Under these acts, the Welsh language began to regain its footing. Youths began to have Welsh spoken to them in schools and in many other public institutions. Welsh became “a compulsory subject for all pupils up to the age of 16 in English-medium schools in Wales” and it was taught as a first language in Welsh-medium schools. It was still widely spoken and taught at home in certain areas of Wales, which helped people to become attached to their language again.  Musicians, such as Gwyneth Glen, was among those who showed that Welsh language and culture were still alive by recording songs in Welsh. Social clubs for youths encouraged the usage of the language, new technologies became available in Welsh… and just so you know the popular game Minecraft is now available to be played in Welsh!

While all these measures have stopped the bleeding, Welsh language use is still drastically lower than what many want. According to the 2001 census shown in this graph, there has been a substantial increase in the number of children who had learned to speak the language in school. It is now up to them to see to the growth and wealth of Welsh in Wales.

Works Cited

Connolly, Colleen. "Can Musicians and Educators Bring Welsh Back?" Smithsonian. Smithsonian.com, 2 July 2013. Web. 26 Apr. 2015. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/can-musicians-and-educators-bring-welsh-back-5503115/?no-ist

"Wales.com - Language." Wales.com - Language. Wales Cymru, n.d. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.http://www.wales.com/en/content/cms/english/about_wales/language/

"Welsh Language Act 1967." Welsh Language Act 1967. The National Archives, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1967/66/enacted

"Welsh Language Act 1993." Welsh Language Act 1993. The National Archives, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1993/38/contents

"Welsh Translation Legally Restored." YouTube. YouTube, 5 June 2014. Web. 27 Apr. 2015.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIbNk2Q7c2k


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Monday, October 5, 2015

Pedaling Past English in the Netherlands

by Barbara L.W. Myers

Barbara Myers is a graduate student in European Union Studies at the University of Illinois. She is planning on continuing her studies of Dutch, Swedish, literary translation, and the EU. She is interested in the work of immigrant writers in Benelux and Scandinavia. She wrote this text as a student in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.’

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It would have been easy to conduct the conversation in English—the customer service representative at the ticket desk for the Rijksmuseum was certainly accustomed to dealing with tourists in the lingua franca (ELF). I had heard him speak it clearly with the couple in front of me in line and I had heard it all around Amsterdam in restaurants, on trams, and along the pathways at the Keukenhof. But by beginning the conversation in Dutch, I set the tone for a Nederlands exchange.

The guidebooks I read before my first trip to Amsterdam four years ago (Frommer’s) and my return trip this March (Rick Steves and various bike tour pocket-sized reads with near origami-like folding maps) assured me that learning Dutch was not at all necessary for a pleasant experience, and that many younger Amsterdamers would, in fact, be eager to practice their English with American tourists. The first time around, I wanted to at least know the polite basics, and this time around, I wanted to dive in and try this language that lies neatly between English and German.

When I asked a few expats what they had found most difficult about learning Dutch, they answered that it was the lack of opportunity to use it at the beginning of their time in the Holland region—their foreign accents gave them away, and led the Dutch to switch to English for their benefit. I found myself in the same conundrum years ago on my first visit to Amsterdam.

Though street and highway signs are in Dutch, businesses display a mix of Dutch and English signage. Signs in Schiphol airport use both languages. Pre-recorded tram announcements are in Dutch, though the reminder to check-out with one’s transit card before exiting is in English. Intercity train announcements both at the station and on-board are given first in Dutch, then in English. Though Dutch is not a minority language, it has a comparatively small number of speakers versus other languages on the continent. With a Eurostat-reported population of nearly 17 million, the Netherlands has only a quarter to a third as many native language speakers as its larger, more populous neighbors France and Germany.

The Dutch have adapted to their small state language status by becoming bilingual—the majority of Netherlanders speak one of the working languages of the European Union as an L2. Eurobarometer reports that 94% of the population state that English is the most useful L2. This statistic makes it no surprise to find ELF flowing from the mouths of both those in the thriving tourist industry and the people on the street. More than one young shop worker informed me that s/he had learned more English from MTV than they had in the classroom. Many English-language programs were readily available on hotel TVs (with Dutch subtitles), and American films fill the movie theaters, with both Dutch and English versions offered for children’s films. But despite the profusion of English (including turn-of-the-century American hip-hop blasting through Burger Bar’s speakers), there is no doubt one is in a Dutch city—bikes fill the streets instead of cars, the scent of friet fills the alleys, and the guttural ‘g’ of Van Gogh and gracht fills the air.

The interaction with the ticket agent was simple and straightforward—“Goedemorgen. Twee volwassenen een twee jongeren alsjeblieft.” Amused, the ticket agent responded in kind, asking why I spoke Nederlands—it was not the first time I was asked the question. I reluctantly switched to English to make sure my brief explanation was clear. Smiling his approval, he shrugged off the need to see a city card to apply the discount, and continued, in Dutch, to explain where I could find the coat check, lockers, and museum guides. Happily back in the Dutch, I thanked him and wished him a good day. This was certainly a very short interaction and not the last of its kind during my trip, but such small moments of bypassing ELF and using the local language enriched my time in Amsterdam.
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Monday, September 21, 2015

Russian-language Minorities in Latvia and Estonia: An Alternative Weapon in the Russian Arsenal?

by Eastman Klepper

Eastman Klepper is a graduate student in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Eastman will start working for the government after graduation and is interested in the Russian language and culture and the current use and future development of the conventional ground forces of the Russian Federation. He wrote this text as a student enrolled in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.’

Figure 1 Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltics (Image Source)
The Russian annexation of Crimea and the Russian-supported separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine have has become a major focus for the Baltic countries of Latvia and Estonia.  Due to their NATO membership, and active support “of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and other countries that have resisted Russia’s pressures” (Bugajski),  these two countries have become a prime focus of Russian activities to gain the support of the Russian-speaking minorities within the countries.  The ultimate goal of these activities is to spark social unrest, thereby averting the influence of the Western-supported governments of Estonia and Latvia.

Russia has a tendency to use military force in the region to ‘protect’ Russian-speaking minorities.  For instance, during the 2008 Russian-Georgian conflict, Russia utilized military force to ‘protect’ Russian-speakers/citizens in South Ossetia.  In 2014, Russia used a covert military force of ‘little green men’ without national insignia or markings in Crimea to “defend peaceful towns and villages" (Shevchenko). Both these scenarios are not viable options for Latvia and Estonia.  The most glaring reason is their membership in NATO, which has already stated that the “alliance would consider it a military attack under article five” (Borger & Harding), if Russia attempted a military operation similar to Crimea.

The new focus by Russia is to use both mass media and local organizations in Latvia and Estonia to intensify the already contentious debate over the position of the minority Russian-language within larger society.  Both Latvia and Estonia contain “sizeable Russian-speaking populations,” and in both countries Moscow claims they are “subject to discrimination and repression” (Bugajski). Based on population size, roughly 28 percent of Estonia’s population identify as Russian-speakers, while Latvia contains around six percent.

An area in which Moscow claims discrimination against the Russian-speaking minority is the “absence of any official status for the Russian language in Latvia,” as well as the requirement in Estonia for “Russians born before independence to pass an Estonian language exam” for citizenship (Borger & Harding). In Latvia, Russia has utilized their state-funded media that is widely viewed by Russian-speakers in the country as a way to exasperate issues related to language status. A recent statement by Latvia’s State Language Center, which urged people to use Latvian at work, was portrayed by Russian media “as a ban on use of Russian in workplaces in Latvia” (Baltic Times). Russian provocations towards Latvia became so rampant in early 2014 that the Latvian government went so far as to place a temporary ban on some Russian-language media outlets (Birnbaum). In the Estonian city of Narva, the University of Tartu’s Narva College reported that 90 percent of the residents speak Russian, and as a result they are strongly influenced by Russian media (Stratfor Global Intelligence).

Russia also supports organizations within both Latvia and Estonia who work to further the Russian-language cause.  In Estonia, a major issue to which the Russian-speaking minorities have objected is the requirement that 60 percent of instruction to students must be in Estonian, even in areas with a very high amount of Russian-speaking populations.  A major opponent to this is the Russian-financed Russian School in Estonia, which has organized student protests in front of government buildings, as well hosting forums intended to unite the Russian-speaking minority against the official government policy (Vedler). Groups, such as the Headquarters for Support of Russian Schools, have been very active in demonstrating against similar educational requirements in Latvia.  One of the recent language protests in Riga was supported by MEP (Member of the European Parliament) Tatyana Zdanoka who is currently under investigation by Latvian security agencies for “being a Russian agent of influence in Latvia and the European Parliament" (Musch).

So what can Latvia and Estonia do to curb this attempt by Russia?  Both countries have already begun work on a Russian-language media outlet which will be used to counter the disinformation campaign by Russia.  While it will not be the ultimate answer to the issue, it does present a two-fold win for both countries: first, as designed, it will present an alternative view of situations affecting the Russian-speaking minority; second, the target audience could see it as an attempt by the government to indulge their specific needs as a language minority; although some might claim that it could also be viewed as just a mouth-piece for the government.

Both countries also need to address the two major issues that Russia claims are held over the Russian-speaking minorities: citizenship policies and educational language instruction.  Both Latvia and Estonia require those who wish to gain citizenship to have the ability to communicate in the official state language.  Why not either remove that obstacle or add Russian as an official minority language?  I understand that both Latvian and Estonian were repressed languages during the Soviet period, but it makes prudent sense to do this, as it would allow for the Russian-language minority to become citizens—and Russia has less claim to defending Latvian or Estonia citizens.  Furthermore, both countries need to look at altering their language education requirements.  Instead of the 60 percent requirement for Latvian/Estonian language instruction, why not format these languages as required classes during secondary school, no different than say a course in history or science?  That way the Russian-speaking minorities are presented with state-language instruction, but are still able to take the remainder of courses in Russian.  Both of these recommendations are drastic and will no doubt bring a fair share of criticism.  However, by making Russian an official minority language and allowing educators in Russian-speaking areas to instruct in Russian, both Latvia and Estonia will weaken, if not eliminate, the argument that Russian-speakers need protection.  This will consequently invalidate any excuse the Russians could use for military action.

Works Cited

Birnbaum, Michael, “In Latvia, Fresh Fears of Aggression as Kremlin Warns about Russian Minorities,” washingtonpost.com, September 27, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/in-latvia-fresh-fears-of-aggression-as-kremlin-warns-about-russian-minorities/2014/09/26/b723b1af-2aed-44d1-a791-38cebbbadbd0_story.html

Borger, J., and Luke Harding, “Baltic States Wary as Russia Takes More Strident Tone with Neighbors,” theguardian.com, September 18, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/18/baltic-states-wary-russia-strident-estonia-latvia-lithuania-nato

Bugajski, J., “The Baltics Confront Moscow’s Ambitions,” the-american-interest.com,  October 3, 2014, http://www.the-american-interest.com/2014/10/03/the-baltics-confront-moscows-ambitions/

Musch, S., “Russian Speakers Protest in Riga for Preservation of Their Language,” euroviews.eu, April 13, 2014, http://www.euroviews.eu/2014/2014/04/13/russian-speakers-protest-in-riga-for-preservation-of-their-language/

“Russia Looks at Protests in the Baltics,” Stratfor Global Intelligence, April 10, 2014, https://www.stratfor.com/analysis/russia-looks-protests-baltics

“Russian Media Claims that Russian Language Banned in Latvian Workplaces,” baltictimes.com, January 20, 2015, http://www.baltictimes.com/russian_media_claims_that_use_of_russian_banned_in_latvian_workplaces/

Shevchenko, V., “Little Green Men’ or ‘Russian Invaders?” BBC.com, March 11, 2014, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26532154.

Vedler, S., Divide and Conquer in Estonia,” rebaltica.lv, March 20, 2012, http://www.rebaltica.lv/en/investigations/money_from_russia/a/610/divide_and_conquer_in_estonia.html

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Platt is Back: the Rejuvenation of Low German

by Andrew Schwenk

Andrew Schwenk is a first year graduate student in European Union Studies at the University of Illinois at Urana-Champaign. Andrew is planning on graduating in December 2016 and is interested in heritage management in Europe. He wrote this text in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.’

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In Thomas Mann’s perpetually popular debut novel from 1901, Buddenbrooks, the German author helps make the Buddenbrook family’s unnamed hometown more real through the language he uses. The novel’s characters use a mixture of Standard German, Low German, Lübeck merchant slang, and French. All of this helps situate the family in their mid-19th century, northern German (Low German), upper-class (French) context (Wolf). If Thomas Mann was born a century later, however, would he still use Low German to give his characters their north German credentials? And what even is Low German anyway?

Low German, known in German as Plattdeutsch, is a German dialect located in the north of Germany. It was very widespread in the Middle Ages, where it was the language of the Hanseatic League—a union of city states that traded along the Baltic coast. Over time, these Baltic trade routes lost their importance and more southerly German dialects became preferred. This trend only increased when Martin Luther published the first German-language Bible in 1534 in High German. Low German’s importance continued to decrease in the 18th and 19th centuries, as the German of Luther’s Bible became the educated standard throughout the German-speaking lands. As a result, use of Low German became associated with the uneducated (Young Germany).

Since 1999 Plattdeutsch has been protected under the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages and has been recognized as a regional language in Schleswig Holstein and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (Schleswig-Holstein). This recognition has resulted in Low German being included as a topic in northern German schools and universities (Finetext). This is a very important change that will bolster Low German’s chances of survival, if even by a little bit. The Charter has helped the language in other ways as well.

According to Article 1 of the Charter, “regional or minority languages” means languages that are different from the official language(s) of the State (ECRML).” This would seem to suggest that Low German, since it is protected by the charter, is considered more a separate language than merely a dialect of High German. Does this seeming recognition of Low German as its own separate language mean that it can overcome its previous reputation as a language of the uneducated and gain a new legitimate status?

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Today, there are approximately 700,000 speakers of Plattdeutsch in the northern German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Bremen, Hamburg, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, and Lower Saxony (Young Germany). As many as 10 million people across these northern states can at least understand it (of approximately 16 million inhabitants in this region) (Ethnologue). Among those with some ability in Low German, it is often the older generations and those who live in more rural locations who have more knowledge of the language (Schleswig-Holstein).  If Low German is to survive and remain healthy, it has to overcome this demographic challenge by appealing to youth culture.

There have been some attempts in the last few years to do just that. The Institut für Niederdeutsche Sprache and the Plattdüütsch Stiftung Neddersassen have launched one such program called “Plattsounds.” With the motto “Platt is cool,” this program lets musicians of 15-30 of age living in Lower Saxony enter an original song in any language to be translated in Plattdeutsch into the contest. The contest’s prize is 1000 Euros (Young Germany). The success of Platt-singing bands such as Tüdelband and the hip-hop act Fettes Brot point to the allure of such a contest (Goethe Institut).  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLLyROmZkkw

While Plattdeutsch’s reach has shrunken since its medieval heyday and faces some modern demographic challenges, there is hope for this regional language. With the support of the ECRML, the German school system, and the Institut für Niederdeutsche Sprache and the Plattdüütsch Stiftung Neddersassen, among other institutions, Low German is making a comeback. Maybe when the next great German novelist decides to represent her life in northern Germany, she does it in Plattdeutsch.

Works Cited

"Das Plattdeutsche." Schleswig-HOlstein. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Die Tüdelband - Sommerkinner (Official Video). Perf. Die Tüdelband. Youtube. N.p., 15 Sept. 2014. Web. 
       27 Mar. 2015.

"European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages." Council of Europe. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

"Finetext." The Changing Fortunes of Low German: From Dialect to Literary Language. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 
       Mar. 2015.

"German Dialects: The Sound of Plattdeutsch." Young Germany. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

"Platt Ist Modern – Ein Paar Einblicke." Goethe Institut. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

"Saxon, Low." Ethnologue. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

Wolf, Ernest M. "Scheidung Und Mischung: Sprache Und Gesellschaft in Thomas Manns Buddenbrooks." 
       Orbis Litterarum. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2015.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Lo que dice la gente cuando alguien anuncia que empezará a aprender el catalán

by Bernard Brennan

Bernard Brennan is a graduate student in Political Science at the University of Illinois. Bernard is planning on researching the politics of separatism in Europe and is interested in regional integration and challenges to sovereignty. He wrote this text in PS 418, ‘Language and Minorities in Europe.’

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El próximo año, voy a tener la gran oportunidad de estudiar la lengua y cultura catalana, gracias a una beca universitaria que se llama “Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship.” Esta beca será administrada por el Centro de la Unión Europea aquí en la Universidad de Illinois. La primera cosa que he aprendido es que las personas van a decir ciertas cosas y van a formular muchas preguntas sobre este tema. Por esta razón, les presento mi entrada de blog.
¿Por qué? Why?
Soy estudiante de posgrado en el departamento de ciencias políticas aquí en la Universidad de Illinois. Por eso, la razón por la que quiero aprender esta nueva lengua está basada en el significado político, no en la novedad lingüística. Un gran interés mío es investigar movimientos independentistas, especialmente en Europa. Los dos movimientos independentistas de Europa más importantes son, en este momento, los de Escocia y Cataluña. Ya he hecho investigaciones preliminares acerca del movimiento escocés y por lo tanto quiero saber más sobre el movimiento catalán.
 ¿El catalán? Es simplemente una forma rara del español, ¿no?
Sí y no. La verdad es que el catalán es una de las lenguas españolas, pero no es el español con que estamos familiarizados aquí en los Estados Unidos. Es decir, existen más idiomas hablados en España que sólo el español. El problema tiene que ver con el nombre “español.” Éste es el nombre que la mayoría de nosotros usamos para describir la lengua en que escribo (y que usted está leyendo), pero en España, es más común llamarla “castellano.” Ademas, en ciertos países latinoamericanos, como Chile y la Argentina, se usa la palabra “castellano” también. El castellano y el catalán (y otros) son lenguas españolas, pero solamente el castellano es el “español” de las Américas. La diferencia entre el castellano y el catalán es igual a la diferencia entre el castellano y el portugués, o el italiano. Son parecidos, debido a su herencia comuna del latín, pero son idiomas distintos.
No, debes aprender X en vez del catalán.
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Gracias por su consejo, pero tengo mis razones por estudiar el catalán. El catalán es un idioma bien importante, con más de cuatro millones de hablantes nativos, y más de cinco millones de hablantes que lo usan como idioma aprendido . No obstante, quiero que esté claro que para mí la cosa interesante del movimiento político está asociada con esta lengua. Quizás podría estudiar el klingon después.
¿Necesitas estudiar ésa? Ya la puedes comprender, ¿no?
¡Gracias por su confianza! Pero, no. Les prometo que el catalán es suficientemente diferente del español (o sea, el castellano) que necesito dedicar tiempo a aprenderlo como lengua extranjera. 

¡Gracias por leer!

Gracias a Isaac Franco (Department of Political Science, Northeastern Illinois University) y Justin Davidson (Department of Spanish and Portuguese, UIUC) por sus comentarios.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Happy International Mother Language Day!

Little girl at Shreeshitalacom Lower Secondary School in Kaski, Nepal leads class in pronunciation of alphabet.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015 is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)'s International Mother Language Day Celebration. A special event will be held this year in Paris, France, including opening ceremony speeches and debates and the theme for this year's celebration is "Inclusion In and Through Education: Language Counts."

From the event's webpage:
As the EFA Goals are far from attained due, in part, to the difficulties of reaching the worst-off segments of the population, the debate around language and education becomes more central. Linguistic minorities are often among the most marginalized populations, with little or poor access to quality education. When they do have access to education, learners from these communities are often either excluded from opportunities to pursue their educational career beyond primary or pushed out of education because the language of instruction is not their own.
UNESCO's Mother Language Day has been observed on February 21 since 2000 and was created with the intention "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world." The date is in honor of the 1952 deaths of student demonstrators fighting for Bangla to be recognized as one of the two national languages of (then) Pakistan in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

More information can be found on UNESCO's Mother Language Day page.
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