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European Day of Languages

Today is the European Day of Languages. As alugha is interested in languages, it is worth to inform you about that day.

Read this article in: Deutsch, English, Français

Estimated reading time:8minutes

It's 26 September, European Day of Languages. The aim of this annual day of action is to draw attention to and value all the languages and cultures of Europe and to make people aware of the benefits of their language skills. 

The European Union has 24 official languages and over 60 autochthonous (recognised) regional and minority languages. There are already articles on a few of these minority languages (in France, Germany and Italy) and more will follow. 

In general, those regional and minority languages can be divided into four categories:

  • The languages of communities in a single state that are not the majority there. This applies, for example, to Sorbian in Germany, which is only spoken there and by a minority.

  • Then there are languages that are spoken in several states but do not represent the majority in any of them. An example of this is Basque, which is spoken in France and Spain. It is spoken by a minority in both states.

  • Another category includes languages that are not a majority in one state but are in another. These include, for example, Danish in Germany, German in Italy and Swedish in Finland.

  • Finally, there are also the languages of minorities that are not territorially bound, but rather distributed throughout Europe. These include Yiddish, Yenish and Romani, for example.

This day does not only refer to the languages in the European Union, but to those of the entire European territory. The Council of Europe, together with the EU, supports initiatives, actions, events and more around language learning and promotion.

20th anniversary of the European Day of Languages

The European Day of Languages was first launched in 2001, the European Year of Languages. The aim was to counteract linguistic impoverishment and not to favour any language and to raise awareness of linguistic diversity. 

However, dealing with minorities is concretely up to the individual states. As already mentioned, language policy in France is relatively rigid and minority languages are still threatened with extinction. 

Minority languages are taught in schools only to a very limited extent. Moreover, a majority does not understand why "smaller" languages should be learned at all, since one can communicate in English almost everywhere. I myself have often been asked why one would need the knowledge of a smaller language. I think the question is already wrong here. It's not always about use and efficiency and embellishing CVs. This question only stirs up fears, for example that parents will no longer dare to pass on their language to their children.

What we lose, when languages die

This day is merely an occasion for individuals to reflect. Languages are also dying outside Europe. This is happening rapidly and is still a result of capitalism and colonisation. With each language, humanity loses a special expression of cultural diversity. As a result, ancient knowledge possessed by members of a certain cultural group may also be lost. This can have consequences for our planet. 

The internet as an opportunity

The digital age can be an opportunity for the preservation of "smaller" languages. This is especially true for languages that are not territorially bound, or generally for minorities living in the diaspora. Social media can be used to network and exchange ideas in the respective language. Online events can be held in and about those languages and cultures. This can also be done in the form of a video, an audio or a podcast. 

I also have to accuse myself. This blog is written in very few languages. But if you want to produce your video or audio in a rarely spoken language at alugha, we will be happy to support you. We are looking forward to it. 





Sources: (27.09.2021, 12:46) (26.09.2021, 19:50) (26.09.2021, 19:58) (26.09.2021, 20:00) (26.09.2021, 19:58),1.pdf (26.09.2021, 19:59)


Photo: Amy Humphries via Unsplash

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