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6. Overheard on the Web

Priority Work Items For Supporting Languages, by Trond Trosterud

The following, which was sent to the Endangered Languages Forum (endangered-languages-l(at)carmen. murdoch.edu.au) on 22 Feb 1997, seemed a useful corrective to unthinking support of languages such as English for languages of communication.

Until now, we have had a bias on the list on documenting undocumented languages and conditions for that (the "fieldwork discussion", the "theory vs. descriptivism discussion", etc.). These are important discussions, and we linguists certainly should have thought through our own answers to all these questions. Typically (but not always) we are dealing with really small language communities not (yet) integrated in the capitalist society. Crucial here is of course how this (eventual) integration happens, both linguistically and socially.

An equally important issue is the large-scale language shift going on within larger non-(that)-threatened language communities. These are basically of two types:
1. Minorities in countries with a non-colonialist language policy
2. Minorities in countries with a colonialist language policy

The first type promotes the language of the (numerical or political) majority of its own country; thus, many/most of the speakers have the official language as their mother tongue (e.g. Turkey, England, Norway, Slovakia all promote the native language of their ruling nationality within their borders). The second type promotes a language spoken by a former colonial power, in most cases being (or until recently being) the mother tongue of only a small elite (the comprador burgeoasi).

Type 1. Political pressure should continue along the lines of linguistic human rights. Many of these countries like to see themselves as democratic and tell other countries about it. They of us that live in these countries should indeed make Linguistic Human Rights part of this export commodity, and also part of domestic practice.
Step 1: Make Linguistic Human Rights part of their rhetoric,
Step 2: confront them with it.

A famous case in point was in the early 60s, when Norway criticised the apartheid policy of South Africa in the UN. The RSA’s answer was to draw attention to the Norwegian policy towards the Sámi...

Type 2: Due to many factors, the overwhelming majority of former colonies have carried on using the language of the former colonialist as the (only) language of instruction in their school system. It is our responsibility to reveal the disastrous concequences of this policy, one of the most important result of racist colonial policy. Not only is this a major contributor to the global language shift process, it is also a crime against all the innocent children that get their education spoiled, and against countries that get generations of inhabitants with bad education. Monolingual English teaching is being given as "aid" in order to perpetuate the unequal realationship between centre and periphery.

 

 

Ultimately, this must be solved by educators in the countries suffering under this policy. Until then, especially those of us that come from countries with a foreign language teaching tradition (The Nordic countries, the Netherlands), used to having both education in general and English teaching in particular on our own premises and not the premises of British Council and the like, should make our voices heard in our national "aid" programs. The logic should not be "Do as we do - use English", but "Do as we do - use your mother tongue". Money should be earmarked for producing and printing of native-language text-books, departments of national languages should be strengthened in national universities, etc. (not only English departments).

There is much work to do, on many battle grounds.

Trond Trosterud
trondt(at)barsek.hsf.no
Barentssekretariatet,
P.O.Box 276,
N-9901 Kirkenes, Norway
work: +47-7899-3758
fax: +47-7899-3225 http://www.norut.no/barsek/ip/iphome.html
home: +47-7899-2243

L'identité bretonne, quel avenir ?

Le maintien de notre identité est, en dernière analyse, la source et la motivation de notre militantisme. Réfléchir à ce qu'est cette identité, essayer de voir en quoi elle mérite qu'on se batte pour la défendre et la sauvegarder, est absolument indispensable. L'identité bretonne est, en quelque sorte, une identité hors-la-loi étant donné que la conception de la citoyenneté française ne laisse pas de place à une double appartenance, comme dans un système fédéral : on est citoyen français, point final. En conséquence, les cibles privilégiées de l'État français dans son effort séculaire pour faire disparaître l'identité bretonne fournissent une indication sûre des éléments constitutifs de cette identité. À l'évidence, ces éléments sont l'histoire, la langue et le territoire. Les atteintes portées à ces trois éléments de notre identité sont patentes : l'histoire bretonne est occultée, la langue n'est pratiquement pas enseignée et le territoire a été sciemment amputé. Tout ceci a des répercussions psychologiques, voire économiques, éminemment fâcheuses, mais paradoxalement provoque des prises de conscience extrêmement vives qui vont totalement à l'encontre du but poursuivi par l'État français. Il est clair désormais, eu égard à l'environnement international, que ce but ne peut pas être atteint, que l'identité bretonne est absolument indestructible, en dépit de ce que l'observation superficielle pourrait laisser croire. La raison et l'intérêt commandent donc à l'État français, dans son propre intérêt, comme dans le notre, de prendre acte de cette incontournable réalité.

Ainsi est née l'association Identité bretonne...

URL http:/www.mygale.org/11/idbzh/

Identité bretonne
(Association membre du Conseil culturel de Bretagne)

E-mail : idbzh(at)mygale.org

Fax (matin) / Tél./Rép. (soir) : (33) 02.99.32.06.12 Courrier : Boîte Postale 202, 56102 An Oriant Cedex, Breizh

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