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The fate of Minority Languages in Europe

September 30, 2010
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The New York Times ran an article on Tuesday highlighting the plight of a little known language of Switzerland—Romansh.  Romansh is closely related to Latin, and while an official language of Switzerland, only about 60,000 people, or about 1% of the Swiss population, speak the language.   However, this population is growing, as the Swiss government has been actively supporting the revival of Romansh.  In 1996, Romansh became an official language and the government now spends $4 million a year promoting the language.

While many European countries focused on education and culture in national languages in an attempt to create citizens during the 19th and 20th centuries, many European languages without national support continued to survive.  As the EU becomes a “Europe of Regions,” many local and national governments have been making efforts to support languages indigenous to their areas, such as Romansh.

In order to better understand this trend in Europe, West European Studies, along with numerous partners is sponsoring the conference “Minority Languages in Europe:  Success and Challenges.”  This symposium will be held in Bloomington from Thursday, October 7th through the 9th.  More information is available on the conference page of WEST website.

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