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4. Appeals, News and Views from Endangered Communities

Linguistic Study on the Usage of Irish in the Gaeltacht Announced Dublin, 31 Jan 2004
Éamon Ó Cuív, T.D., Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs announced today that a contract to undertake a linguistic study on the usage of Irish in the Gaeltacht is being awarded to Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, University of Ireland, Galway, in conjunction with the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, University of Ireland, Maynooth.

It is estimated that the study, which will cost EUR550,223 (value added tax included), will take over 2 years to complete and that it will commence at the beginning of April this year. The intention is to use the results of the study as a basis to strengthen the linguistic development of the Gaeltacht as an area in which Irish is spoken and to review the official Gaeltacht areas as was recommended in the Report of the Gaeltacht Commission 2002.

"In view of the great changes that have occurred in the Gaeltacht since the establishment of the Department of the Gaeltacht in 1956 when the last major arrangement of the boundaries of the Gaeltacht was made-in terms of language and settlement patterns, as well as economic, social, and technological changes-it is necessary now to look afresh at the multilingual community that is in the Gaeltacht today" says Minister Ó Cuív.

Announcing the news at the launch of a Development Plan for the Irish Language and the People of the Gaeltacht in Iveragh, Co. Kerry, the Minister said that it was vitally important to evaluate the best methods of strengthening the Irish language as the language of the Gaeltacht through providing comprehensive linguistic information that would give a better understanding of the forces affecting the sustainability of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht.

"Everybody agrees that there is a continuing decline in the use of the Irish language in the Gaeltacht", said the Minister. "If this decline continues it is only a matter of time until there is an end to the Gaeltacht as it was historically understood. It is vitally necessary therefore that the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs should take steps now to assemble and use comprehensive information as a basis for developing further realistic policies to halt this decline. The challenge is to find the best way to strengthen and preserve a productive, viable Irish language community for the future. That is the purpose of the linguistic study and it is another practical step that indicates the appreciable progress being made in implementing the recommendations in the Report of the Gaeltacht Commission."

The Minister said that the Irish-speaking and Gaeltacht community was under pressure from one of the most widely used languages in the world. As a result of this it was necessary to look at strategies that would help in the successful delivery of the Irish language from generation to generation in the Gaeltacht and that would increase its usage as an everyday language in all aspects of life in the Gaeltacht. "It is most important to find ways in which the native population of the Gaeltacht will be prepared to and confident about delivering the language from generation to generation", said the Minister.

He said that no decision would be made about redrawing the Gaeltacht Boundaries until the results of this study were available and had been considered carefully.

In the meantime, the new positive measures announced by the Minister over the last few months to strengthen the Irish language in the Gaeltacht would be progressed -including the awareness campaign, amendments to Scéim Labhairt na Gaeilge, home visitors, language planning, youth services and improvements to the language assistants scheme and the sports camps scheme. In accordance with the relevant public procurement procedures, a Steering Committee was established in September 2003 to advise the Department in selecting the most appropriate tender for the study. Seosamh Mac Donnacha, Acadamh na hOllscolaíochta Gaeilge, University of Ireland, Galway, in conjunction with An Dr. Conchúr Mac Giollagáin, the National Institute for Regional and Spatial Analysis, University of Ireland, Maynooth, and Roinn na Gaeilge, St. Patrick's College, Drumcondra, Dublin will be in charge of the work.

Official Language Status for Irish in Europe?

Alasdair MacCaluim adds:

More than 50,000 people have demanded that the Government look for Official Status for the language in Europe on the Web (link below). Is your demand included?


Rajasthani language recognized

Lakhan Gusain lgusain(at) writes:

Finally we did it. I am very happy to announce that Rajasthani language has been recognized by Rajasthan Assembly and within few days, hopefully, be recognized by the Government of India. Here I will quote some lines from respected Sri Ramnivas Lakhotia, Chairperson, Rajasthani Academy's mail.

Apropos your e-mail dated November 25, 2003, I am glad to know that you are continuously thinking about Rajasthani language. You may be aware that Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha has unanimously passed a resolution on Rajasthani language. In this connection, I would like to inform you that the Central Government has been requested to recognize Rajasthani language under the 8th Schedule of the Constitution.

Chairperson, Rajasthani Acad., New Delhi I have been preparing "A Report about the Standardization, Implementation and Teaching of Rajasthani" which is going to be debated in parliament within few days. I will send you a copy of this report for necessary comments (before sending to Dr. L.M.Singhvi, Former High Commissioner to Britain, Sri R.N. Lakhotia, Language Affair Committee--Parliament of India, and Language Committee -- Rajasthan Assembly), and other prominent figures that are struggling for the cause of Rajasthani and its "Existence" since 1947.

Now we want the same response from the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Hereby, I would like to thank all my respected Teachers, Leaders, Seniors, Colleagues, students, friends and Rajasthani well-wishers for their very nice cooperation. We will fight for our "Voice" till it gets its Respect and Honour.

Lakhan Gusain, Faculty
3511, Frieze Building
Department of Asian Languages & Cultures
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor; Michigan 48109-1285
Tel: (734) 936-8809 (Office)
(734) 996-4065 (Home)
Fax: (734) 647-0157

First ever daily newspaper in Welsh - Y Byd (‘The World’)

"Rebecca Williams" rfw(at)

Annwyl Gyfeillion,
Mae’n bleser gennym allu’ch cyfarch chi, ar ddechrau 2004, gyda newyddion am y papur newydd dyddiol Cymraeg cyntaf erioed, sef Y Byd. Bydd sefydlu’r Byd yn gam aruthrol o bwysig yn hanes yr iaith a’r gymuned Gymraeg.

Dear Friends,
We are pleased to be able to greet you, at the beginning of 2004, with news of the first ever daily newspaper in Welsh - Y Byd (‘The World’). Establishing a daily paper will be an immensely important step in the history of the Welsh language and the Welsh community, including all those learning the language or studying in Welsh-medium and bilingual schools and colleges.

Welsh is one of the few minority languages in Europe that does not have its own daily paper, and two years of research have convinced us that the venture is viable.

At you will find an English section and have the opportunity to join Clwb Cefnogwyr Y Byd - our Supporters’ Club and become part of this historic venture.

And please, spread the word amongst your friends and colleagues!

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda. Endangered Zolai, language of Myanmar

From Tribal Media Group tribalmedia(at)

Myanmar has been ruled since 1962 by highly repressive authoritarian military regimes. Since 1988, when the armed forces brutally suppressed massive pro-democracy demonstrations, a junta composed of senior military officers has ruled by decree, without a constitution or legislature. The most recent Constitution promulgated in 1974, permitted both legislative and administrative restrictions on religious freedom, stating "The national races shall enjoy the freedom to profess their religion, provided that the enjoyment of any such freedom does not offend the laws or the public interest" Most adherents of all religions that are registered with the authorities generally are allowed to worship as they choose; however, the Government has imposed restrictions on freedom of the Press, certain religious activities and frequently abused the rights to freedom of religion and NOW ENDANGERED OUR LANGUAGE-ZOLAI.

Till the early 1990s we were able to teach ZOLAI as one subject in the schools within our district (Tedim) to students from Class I to IV, but no exams is ever conducted for ZOLAI.



In the early 1990s military and other Junta associates have moved in and their children took alternative subject in Burmese in lieu of Zolai. Since then restrictions and obstacles hauled now and then on the school authorities in our area have met a disastrous level of discontinuing our Language, the only learning centre. Now in 1995 an order was issued and a translated copy is attached herewith for your kind information and concern. Its been near 10 years now and the younger generations are beginning to feel the loss and the older ones feel the pain. But there is little we can do. It is being kept alive by the few literature in the form of hymns and Bibles within the Christian Church.

TMG request your esteemed foundation to response to this threat of ours otherwise within the next five to ten years our younger generations will not speak or read our ZOLAI because of the big influence and forced usage of Burmese on our people.

NB: A photostat copy of the original order in Burmese version is available from us if you need so, please..

Secretary Tribal Media Group

Berber textbook goes on display

Jordan Lachler lachler(at)UNM.EDU A Berber cultural institute in Morocco says the first textbook aimed at teaching children how to read and write the Berber language will be on display on Sunday at a book fair in Casablanca. The director of the Royal Institute of Berber culture, Dr Ahmad Boukous, told the BBC that although three dialects of Berber were spoken all over the country, not many people knew how to write the script, called Tifinagh. The majority of Moroccans are of Berber origin and many speak one of its dialects, but Arabic is still the official language. Activists are demanding Berber should be given official status. Last September the government allowed the language to be taught in schools alongside other languages such as English and French.

Microsoft working on Native Tongues

BBC World Service

The Welsh language is to be introduced into Microsoft Windows as part of a project to increase usage by minority language speakers.

It is one of 40 new languages due to be added, in response to complaints from around the world that youngsters were losing their native tongues. Microsoft programmes already run in 40 languages including English, Spanish, Arabic and Chinese variants. A Welsh start menu and some commands will be available in about six months. Microsoft said it has received complaints from places such as Catalonia, Malaysia and the Arctic regions of Canada.

'Digital divide'
They claim the switch from native languages online is also affecting everyday speech, said BBC North America Business Correspondent Stephen Evans. Some argue the fewer languages the better for global trade and understanding, but Microsoft is siding with "linguistic diversity", he said. The other big linguistic groups to benefit from the expansion will be speakers of Gujarati and Tamil in India, of Catalan in Spain, and of Bahasa in Malaysia. Native languages from Northern Canada and Ethiopia will also be added. Start menus and instructions like 'save' and 'search' will be introduced, said Microsoft. The company's worldwide public sector senior vice president Maggie Wilderotter said they were working with governments and academics to develop the languages over the next year, for Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Office 2003. Dato' Hj A Aziz Deraman, of the national language authority of Malaysia, said the availability of Windows in Bahasa would speed up IT literacy and help bridge the "digital divide" between rural and urban areas.

User-friendly Dictionaries

We live at a time when native speakers are (in my opinion, justifiably) increasingly calling for greater ownership of materials produced about their languages, greater input into decision-making in the production of those materials, and increasingly stating their desire to have those materials truly usable by native speakers. Which dictionaries of aboriginal (First Nations, etc.) languages have proven to be most user-friendly to native speakers of those languages, and what features of those dictionaries have made them user-friendly? Which dictionaries are widely used (not simply purchased) by native speakers themselves?

Wayne Leman
Busby, Montana

Gwynedd Council calls on Brittany government to aid Breton

Bruxelles 23 Apr 2004 Davyth A. Hicks
In a significant move Gwynedd Council in northwest Wales informs Eurolang that it has officially called on Breton governmental bodies to take action for the Breton language.

In the letter, addressed to the Presidents of the five Breton departments and the new chief of the Breton ‘region’, Jean Yves le Drian, the leader of Gwynedd Council, R. Wyn Williams, expresses “sadness and concern regarding the lack of political support and the current financial and legal situation of the bilingual Diwan schools in Brittany”.

“These schools are an imperative resource for the future of the Breton language, and one could argue that without these schools, the future of the Breton language looks more doubtful than ever.

“Many towns in Gwynedd are twinned with similar towns in Brittany, and to hear of the situation of the language has generated great concern in Gwynedd, a County where Welsh, the sister language of Breton, receives so much support and assistance.

“I urge you to do all that you can to give Breton the opportunity to survive, through discussing this problem with your government and elected representatives in your region and France.” It also invites the Breton leaders to come to Gwynedd “to experience the Welsh education Plan and to see the clear advantage of educating our young people bilingually”. (Eurolang)

Rodríguez Zapatero to strive for EU recognition of Catalan

Barcelona 19 Apr 2004, Alexia Bos Solé

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Party, was formally declared as Spain’s Prime Minister last week after a vote in the national parliament. During the investiture debate, Mr. Rodríguez Zapatero referred to reforming the Autonomy Statutes affecting Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia and the ‘limited’ reform of the Spanish Constitution. He also stated that: “The government will work towards obtaining recognition for the Catalan language in the EU.”

Zapatero said he accepted the reform of the Autonomy Statutes, but he gave two conditions for these changes to take place: that they should be conducted with respect for the Spanish Constitution and that there should be a broad political and social consensus. He pointed out that the reform of the Statutes had to serve to increase “social cohesion” and not to create “splits or conflicts within the Community.”

As for the reform of the Spanish Constitution, Mr. Zapatero is proposing a “limited, specific modification” but the aim will always be to “strengthen” the Constitution itself. Such a reform would affect four areas: the reform of the Senate; giving equal status to women in the succession to the Spanish throne; the inclusion of the 17 autonomous communities in the text of the Constitution, which contains no reference to them at present; and the addition of a reference to the European Constitution.

Spain's Prime Minister-elect also promised to campaign for Catalan to be made an official EU language. Catalonia already has a degree of autonomy from Madrid but the nationalist parties have asked for more measures to augment the recognition of the Catalan nation. "The government will work towards obtaining recognition of the Catalan language in the EU," said Rodríguez Zapatero last Thursday during the debate in the Spanish parliament. He was responding to the Catalan Republican Left (ERC) party which had requested that Catalan be mentioned in the EU's first constitution as an official language.

Zapatero said he was not sure if there would still be time to mention Catalan in the charter because the text has to be adopted in June, and that the decision requires the unanimity of all Member States. However, if in the end he does not manage to attain the goal of official status fro Catalan in the EU, he promised his “commitment of respect and support” to all of Spain’s official languages by stating that he will ensure that the Constitution be translated into Catalan, Basque and Galician.

In Brussels the EU's translation and interpreting services are already making efforts to cope with the expansion of the number of official languages from 11 to 20, when Europe enlarges in May. Up to 7.3 million people speak Catalan with nearly 10 million able to understand it. This would make it the eighth most spoken language in the EU, ahead of most of the languages of the new EU members, except for Polish.

For now the future of Catalan in the EU appears set to rely on the importance that the new Spanish Prime minister gives it. (Eurolang)