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Problems Faced By Large Linguistic Minorities: An East-West Comparison

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  1. Problems Faced By Large Linguistic Minorities: An East-West Comparison Jennifer Pyclik November 28, 2005

  2. Catalan in Spain • Tension with Castilian speakers • Catalonia established its own government in 1930s • Catalan made official language

  3. Catalan under Franco regime • Franco regime: 1939-1975 • Prohibitions on use of Catalan; promotion of Castilian • Attempt to create unified Spanish state and identity • Influx of immigrants into Catalonia

  4. Catalan today • Became an official language of Spain in 1978 • Castilian, Galician, and Basque • 7.3 million speakers • 7th most spoken language in EU • Given special status • Catalonia: 79% of population speaks it while nearly all can understand it • Catalan, not Spanish, identity

  5. Catalonian language policies • 1998 Language Law • Catalan official language; all required to learn it • Government officials must use Catalan • Public documents must be produced in Catalan • Names of individuals must be in Catalan

  6. Education Policy • Catalan primary language of education • Castilian may be used if mother tongue • Proficiency in Catalan and Castilian requirement for secondary school graduation • Either can be used at university level, but university required to promote Catalan

  7. Latvian • Latvia not incorporated into Soviet Union until 1944 • Russians began emigrating to Latvia after the war, creating a minority • Today there are over 500,000 ethnic Russians • Russian mother tongue for 40% of the population

  8. Russification under Soviets • Russian official language of gov’t • 1958: children did not have to learn minority language • Almost all children “chose” to study Russian • Few ethnic Russians studied Latvian • Promotion of united Soviet identity

  9. Post-Communist Language Policy • 1989: declared Latvian to be official language • Latvian proficiency exam required for citizenship • Applied to those who had lived in Latvia for decades • Political candidates required to know Latvian • Government oversight office created to implement pro-Latvian policies • Promotion of Latvian in at all education levels

  10. Education Policy • Revised in 1998: promotion of bilingual education (at lower grade levels) • Separate minority language schools • Gradual increase of courses taught in Latvian culminating in Latvian-only education at secondary level • Gov’t claims student requesting more Latvian education

  11. International Reaction to Latvian Policies • Russian government upset over treatment of ethnic Russians • 1993: Duma policy “maltreatment of Russians in the geopolitical space of the former Soviet Union could be construed as grounds for Russian military intervention” • Cause taken up by ultra-conservatives Russians • International community wants to prevent war

  12. OSCE intervention • Latvia revised language laws in 1998 • OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities sent stern letter requesting that the law be revised • Law went through two revisions until OSCE approved

  13. Comparison • Attempts by repressive regimes to suppress minority/promote majority language • Unified identity • After regime, “regions” gain autonomy/ independence and promote their own language and identity • Minority languages can be used but majority language strongly encouraged or required

  14. Comparison • Official gov’t languages • National level: Spain has four; Latvia one • Catalonia recognizes Aranese in Aran Valley • International interference occurred only in the East • Threat of ethnic violence • Catalan policies only at regional level • Perceptions of what is harsh and what is acceptable language protection

  15. Bibliography • Aasland, Aadne and Tone Flotten. “Ethnicity and Social Exclusion in Estonia and Latvia,” Europe-Asia Studies 53(7) (2001): 1023-1049. • Adler, Katya. “Candidates play Catalan card,” BBC News, 14 Nov. 2003, found athttp://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3270397.stm (last visited 29 Sept 2005).   • Adrey, Jean-Bernard. “Minority Language Rights Before and After the 2004 EU Enlargement: The Copenhargen Criteria in the Baltic States,” Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 26(5) (2005): 453-468. • Burgen, Stephen. “Barcelona faces a new challenge of diversity,” The London Times 23 Apr. 2003. • Dunoff, Jeffrey L., Steven R. Ratner, and David Wippman. International Law: Norms, Actors, Process-A Problem-Oriented Approach (New York: Aspen Publishers, Inc. 2002). • Generalitat (Government of Catalonia); Catalan, Language of Europe; found athttp://www6.gencat.net/llengcat/publicacions/cle/clee.htm (last visited 29 Sept. 2005). • Language Policy Report 2002; found athttp://www6.gencat.net/llengcat/informe/a2002.htm (last visited 29 Sept. 2005). • Grenoble, Lenore. Language Policy in the Soviet Union (Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003). • Kolsto, Pal. “The New Russian Diaspora: Minority Protection in the Soviet Successor States,” Journal of Peace Research 30(2) (1993): 197-217.

  16. Bibliography • Lipset, Harry. “The Status of National Minority Languages in Soviet Education,” Soviet Studies 19(2) (1967): 181-189. • Llei de politica linguistica, Act No. 1, of 7th January 1998, on linguistic policy, found athttp://www6.gencat.net/llengcat/legis/angles_llei.htm (last visited 29 Sept. 2005) • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Latvia, “Integration Policy in Latvia-A Multi-Faceted Approach” (28 Sept. 2005) found at http://www.am.gov.lv/en/policy/4641/4642/4649/ (last visited 28 Oct. 2005) [“Integration Policy”] • “Minority Education in Latvia” (11 July 2005) found at http://www.am.gov.lv/en/policy/4641/4642/4643/ (last visited 28 Oct. 2005) • “National Agency for Latvian Language Training” (11 July 2005) found at http://www.am.gov.lv/en/policy/4641/4642/4646/ (last visited 28 Oct. 2005) • Rees, Earl L. “Spain’s Linguistic Laws: The Catalan Controversy,” Hispania 79(2) (1996): 313-321. • Resolution of the European Parliament A3-169/90, December 11, 1990, on Languages in the Community and the Situation of Catalan (OJEC-C19, 28th January 1991) • Sharrock, David. “Catalan children leave their native tongue in class,” The London Times 17 June 2003. • Wilkinson, Isambard. “Young Catalans say ‘no’ to their regional language,” Daily Telegraph (London) 12 August 2003. • Wright, Susan, ed. Language, Democracy and Devoluion in Catalonia (Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters Ltd, 1999).