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The Dublin Declaration



European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL)

7th Annual Conference, Dublin, 4-6 November 2009

The Dublin Declaration

on the relationship between official languages and regional and minority languages in Europe



1.      The linguistic reality varies considerably from one country to another across Europe, as a result of differing historical, social, and political conditions. EFNIL members, as national or central institutions of the EU member states, are dedicated to supporting their official, standard language(s) through language research, status/corpus planning, documentation, and policy. In addition, they have a responsibility to monitor closely the development of language use and linguistic diversity in each of their countries.

2.      Terms such as ‘minority language’ and ‘regional language’ are usually charged with ideological meanings, as are terms such as ‘national language’, ‘official language’ and many others  used to indicate the condition or status of a language (e.g. indigenous, autochthonous, ethnic, lesser-used, co-official, dialect, non-territorial, dominant language). The use of such a range of terms is itself indicative of the fact that the relationship between languages and between language and society is very complex. EFNIL intends to contribute to awareness-raising regarding the use of such terms and to promote their careful use in official documents and language policies.

3.      EFNIL views all languages as equal in cultural value, and this of course includes minority languages. EFNIL makes no distinction between autochthonous, immigrant and minority languages when it comes to the rights of their speakers for access to knowledge and language education. To this end, EFNIL advocates the inclusion of as many languages in school curricula as possible, and urges state authorities to take a proactive approach to the inclusion of minority migrant languages in school programmes and/or to offer opportunities for accessing education in these languages whenever possible.

4.      Language groups living outside their ‘kin-state(s)’ or without a 'kin-state' should be reassured (for instance by bilateral agreements as regards groups with 'kin-state(s)' or by adequate legal acts regarding other groups) that the country of which they are citizens respects and indeed values linguistic rights. Such practices might contribute to improved international relations, exchange, and trade.

5.      Citizens are typically expected to have a command of a particular language (usually termed the ‘national’ or ‘official’ language). Those wishing to acquire citizenship have to provide evidence of their competence in this language. In a few countries this requirement is applicable to one of several official languages. Nevertheless, this should not mean that other autochthonous languages, as constituent languages of the country and part of its cultural heritage, should not be valued. The rapid decline of speakers of some of these languages in recent times is a cause for great concern. EFNIL urges state authorities and the general public to recognise the cognitive, social, and indeed political and economic advantages for the national community of the bi- or multi- lingualism of all its members.

6.      In most European countries today there is a rather complicated linguistic reality which is not always visible due to lack of reliable, recent statistics. As EFNIL recognises the conditions of social plurality in Europe and the need for social cohesion, it is committed to promoting plurilingual citizenry and to working together with other European organisations, in order to collect and disseminate reliable data and best practice in this field.

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