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, March 21, 2016

Que deviendra le livonien?

by Eric Becker

Eric Becker is a graduate student in French Linguistics at the University of Illinois. He is planning on continuing his work towards his Masters and is interested in minority languages in Europe. He wrote this text as a student enrolled in FR 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’.

Image Source
La situation de la langue live, ou le livonien comme on y réfère dans certains contextes, est précaire : la langue est « en situation critique » d’extinction selon l’UNESCO. La dernière locutrice de cette langue finno-ougrienne proche du finnois et de l’estonien, Grizelda Kristiņa, est morte en 2013 au Canada. Sans aucun locuteur natif, que deviendra la langue live ?

Le livonien appartient à la branche fennique des langues finno-ougriennes, mais il était influencé aussi par les langues baltiques et slaves. Le livonien est parlé en Livonie, une région de Lettonie située à la pointe nord de la Courlande sur une péninsule dans le Golfe de Riga. Le livonien est donc classé comme dialecte intermédiaire entre les dialectes oriental et occidental du Golfe de Riga (l’orthographe est basée sur le dialecte oriental). Le livonien est la langue traditionnelle du peuple live. En 2011 selon le recensement letton, 250 personnes d’héritage letton vivaient en Lettonie, dont 40 locuteurs du livonien.

"liivi keel" by Jukka is licensed under GNU Free Documentation License
Le livonien, la langue maternelle de moins de 2000 locuteurs au XVIII siècle, jouit d’une renaissance pendant la première indépendance de la Lettonie de 1918 à 1940. Lors de la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, les Soviétiques et les Nazis avaient écrasé le renouveau du livonien et des autres langues des pays baltes : le lituanien, le letton, et l’estonien. Le peuple live avait été chassé de ses terres ancestrales pendant deux invasions par les Soviétiques en 1940 et les Nazis en 1941. C’étaient les Soviétiques qui ont possédé le territoire jusqu'à l’indépendance de la Lettonie en 1991. Dans tous les pays baltes, un processus de russification a laissé son empreinte sur les langues locales de la population. Après l’indépendance, la Lettonie a déclaré le territoire ancestral live un territoire protégé, mais bien que la république fût bien intentionnée, la langue live est arrivée à un point de non-retour.

Grizelda Kristiņa, la dernière locutrice parlant livonien comme langue maternelle, a aidé les chercheurs travaillant sur les langues moribondes à archiver sa langue. Elle a écrit un manuel de live et une collection de poèmes en live. Jusqu'à sa mort, Kristiņa écrivait des poèmes en livonien afin d’archiver toutes les traces de la langue désormais moribonde.

Le Notre Père en livonien et en estonien : 

En livonien occidental:
Mạd iza 
Mạd iza, kis sa vuod touvis!
pǖvātộd las sig sin nim.
Las tugộ sin vạlikštộks,
sin mēľ las sugūg kui touvis nei ka mạ pạ'l.
Mạd jega pạvvist leibộ ạuda mạdộn tạmpộ.
Un jeta mạdộn mạd vǖlgsd,
kui ka meig jetām ummo vǖlgaloston.
Un ạla ū meidi k'ertāmiz sizộl,
aga pạsta meidi jera siest kunēsst.
Amen.

En livonien oriental:
Mạd touvộ iza
Mạd touvộ iza, pụvštộd sọgộ sin nim;
sin vọlikšộmi las tulgộ mạd jūrộ;
sin tọmi las sugūg mọ pǟlộ nei īš kwi touvộs.
Mạd pạvviz touitộg ānda mạdộn tạmpộ.
Un lask jara mạdộn mạd sūd nei
kui mēg eńtš sǖlistộn nānt sǖd jara laskūm.
Un ạla laskộ sima meidi ańtš jūste jara saddộ;
pạsta meidi amást ạb jộvast.
Amen.

Estonien:
Meie Isa
Meie Isa, kes Sa oled taevas!
Pühitsetud olgu Sinu nimi. Sinu riik tulgu.
Sinu tahtmine sündigu nagu taevas, nõnda ka maa peal.
Meie igapäevast leiba anna meile tänapäev.
Ja anna meile andeks meie võlad,
nagu meiegi andeks anname oma võlglastele.
Ja ära saada meid kiusatusse, vaid päästa meid ära kurjast.
Sest Sinu päralt on riik ja vägi ja au igavesti.
Aamen.

Mais l’histoire n’est pas terminée, car on assiste à l’heure actuelle à la résurrection du livonien grâce aux locuteurs lettons et estoniens qui, dans le cadre d’un projet qui a duré quatre décennies, ont créé d’un dictionnaire livonien-estonien-letton (image ci-dessous). En 2012 le président de l’Estonie, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, a insisté sur le soutien du gouvernement letton: 
« It is the obligation and responsibility of free and democratic societies to stand up for smaller cultures giving them the courage to survive and develop. The long-awaited Livonian-Estonian-Latvian dictionary removes the barriers that so far existed between the Livonian and the Estonian and Latvian languages. Thus, this dictionary can be described as a new-era Livonian civic center erected in the 21st century, which confirms that the Livonians are carefully preserving their roots and bringing back what appeared to be on the brink of vanishing. »
Ce dictionnaire était le premier ouvrage de ce type en Lettonie et Estonie, puisque les deux autres dictionnaires imprimés étaient publiés par en Russie (1861) et en Finlande (1938).

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Malgré le fait que le livonien et le letton appartiennent à deux familles de langues différents et les locuteurs lettons ne comprennent pas cette langue de Lettonie, les Lettons sont intéressés à la langue. Dans un article de dw.de, il est noté par Zoja Silje, professeur de langues, que « …some young people even think it's hip to send each other text messages in Livonian ». Dw.de mentionne aussi un groupe de jeunes à Riga qui a comme but de continuer à parler et à préserver le livonien. Quelques-uns parmi eux ont appris la langue de leurs grands-parents, mais après la mort de leurs ancêtres, ils n’avaient plus aucune autre manière de s’exercer à parler la langue. Pour mieux comprendre le renouveau que ces jeunes essaient de promouvoir, je cite Beate, âgée de 17 ans, qui explique  l’importance de promouvoir cette langue moribonde: « If you learn Livonian and not Spanish, the Livonians won't die… I will know it and teach it to my children ». Valts Ernstreits, professeur de livonien en Lettonie, nous également que pour les Lettons, l’histoire live est plus ancienne que celle de leur pays actuel, la Lettonie. S’identifier avec cette langue moribonde signifie donc l’attachement à une identité bien ancrée dans l’histoire baltique ancestrale.

Grâce à ces efforts, le gouvernement de la Lettonie a reconnu la langue live comme une langue autochtone et il soutient les efforts de la petite communauté du livonien. Si on pose la question à Ernstreits de savoir si, un jour, les Lettons arriveront à préserver le livonien, il va dire : « It is basically too late now to preserve the language ». Mais selon Silje qui reconnaît la langue comme une langue ancestrale de sa famille, le livonien va survivre d’une façon ou d’une autre. L’avenir seul nous dira ce que deviendra le livonien.

Références

Charter, D. (2013, June 5). Death of a language: Last ever speaker of Livonian passes away aged 103. The Times. Retrieved March 18, 2015.

Estonian president acknowledges Latvian government's support for Livonian dictionary. (2012, September 14). Baltic News Service. Retrieved March 18, 2015.

Spector, M. (1997, December 4). Baltic's Onetime Rulers Have Shrunk to a Handful. New York Times. Retrieved March 18, 2015.

Wolters, C. (2007, June 6). Keeping Livonian -- Latvia's Lesser Known Language -- Alive. Retrieved March 18, 2015, from http://dw.de/p/Ax8J

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Monday, March 7, 2016

Constructing the New German Identity One Immigrant at a Time

by Jonathon Prinz

Jonathon Prinz is a senior in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in International Engineering and Germanic Studies. After graduation, Jonathon is planning on working for UOP Honeywell as a mechanical engineer in Des Plaines, Illinois. He is planning on traveling the world after a study abroad experience in Germany last summer sparked his interest in other places and cultures. He wrote this blog post as a student enrolled in 418 ‘Language and Minorities in Europe’.

Turkish/German flag flying in Germany [Image Source]
When people think of Germany, many tend to think of the typical German stereotype: beer, pretzels, and lederhosen.  While this is true in part, people usually never conjure up images of a nation of immigrants.  This is because the textbook German identity is popular, yet is not a realistic depiction of what Germany actually is today.

After the Second World War, Germany has seen an enormous increase in immigrants entering as guest workers from South/Southeastern Europe.  More recently, many are coming from a variety of nations such as former Soviet Union, Romania, and Poland.  These immigrants bring with them a multitude of languages, and these languages continue to thrive as second and third generations of these families are born.  Among the most popular is Turkish, the language of approximately 1.5 million immigrants, which is more than all of the established minority or regional language population put together (Languages Across Europe: Germany).

Turkish Immigrants Work in a Döner Stand in Germany [Image Source]
The minority and regional languages established in Germany are Upper & Lower Sorbian, North & South Frisian, Danish, Romani, and Low German.  These languages are protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML).  Germany signed this charter on November 11th, 1992 and ratified it on September 16th, 1998.  This made Germany the first state to ratify the Charter, which showed German’s enthusiasm for its regional or minority languages.  Unfortunately, this enthusiasm has not yet been met for immigrant languages.

It is important to establish the difference between regional or minority languages from immigrant languages.  Regional or minority languages are protected and promoted within Germany under the ECRML.  Germany has a Language Commissioner who is concerned with national minorities and also protecting and promoting the Low German Regional Language. There are federal structures in place for language policy by installing punctual interventions on the most relevant minority or regional languages (being the aforementioned languages) that, unfortunately, ignore the immigrant languages.

On the other hand, immigrant languages, such as Turkish and Kurdish, are not considered working languages of institutions and are not supported by governmental agencies.  This means if a Turkish-speaking individual were to go to German court, he/she would not have the right to speak in Turkish.

Advertisement, "United We Are Germany" [Image Source]
This past December, the Christian Social Union (CSU), which is in control of the German state of Bavaria, drafted up a resolution that all foreign immigrants that are requesting citizenship “should be asked to speak German in public and in private with their families.”  The CSU is considered one of Germany’s most influential political parties.  As one could imagine, this sparked quite the uproar.  Forcing people to retract the use of their mother tongue is extremely detrimental to a language.  Languages, especially those spoken by a minority, need protection and promotion in order to survive.  By limiting or banning the usage of a language, inter-generational transmission could stop and the number of speakers of the language might quickly dwindle.  The leader of the Social Democratic Party, Yasmin Fahimi, disliked this CSU’s resolution and commented on how this sounded like an echo from Germany’s Nazi past, which promoted the “ideal German.”

Not everyone agrees with the CSU proposal and that even includes CSU’s sister party CDU.  The public expressed its outrage through all sorts of media including Twitter with a variety of comments ranging from sarcastic to very harsh.  The criticism worked though and CSU revised its proposal by instead suggesting immigrants should be encouraged to speak German at home.  In true political form, CSU tried to explain their thinking behind the original motion.  Andreas Scheuer, CSU’s general secretary, commented that this motion was to be put in place so immigrants can learn the language and properly enunciate themselves.  According to an OCED survey, 17% of all people of immigrant origin speak or write in flawed German.  Chancellor Angela Merkel believes that “Good German language skills are essential” but also that “it is highly beneficial if children have the opportunity to grow up bilingually” (Washington Post).

One thing is for certain: tensions are high in an increasingly larger and larger immigrant population in Germany. These immigrants are annoyed with the political policies in place that are making it difficult for them to gain citizenship, which may even affect the son or daughter of an immigrant parent.  It is understandable for Germany to want to preserve and promote its regional and minority languages, as these are a major part of its history and culture.  However something must change in regards to attitude the country portrays towards languages used by Germans and immigrants like the Turkish.  Once the tipping point of frustration is reached within the immigrant communities, the world will see the development a new German identity. What will this entail? Most likely more and more bilingual schools, shops, and communities will pop up as immigrants gain more political power and implement policies that are more favorable to all communities living and working in Germany.

Sources

Aleff, Hans-Jörg. Döner. 2014. Berlin. Flickr. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

Knospe, Hans.  United We Are Germany – In German and Turkish. 2010. Berlin. Flickr. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.

"Germany Country Profile." BBC News. BBC, 25 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

German Turkish Flag. N.d. Wikimedia. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

"Languages Across Europe: Germany." BBC News. BBC, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.

Noack, Rick. “A German Political Party Wants Immigrants to Stop Speaking Foreign Languages-even at Home.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 8 Dec. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2015.
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