Life around the world

Wednesday, 11 June, 2014 - 13:33

Why I love minority languages

by RachelF

I've been living in the Basque Country in Southwest France for three months now, and I have to say I am loving it! In case you don't know, the Basque Country is an area that covers parts of Southwest France and Northwest Spain, and consists of seven smaller zones. This area has many unique and wonderful traditions involving food, dancing traditional music, special festivals and more.

But while all those things are great, it's the Basque language that I find the most fascinating of all. It's everywhere, from road signs and shops to schools and concerts. I'm here in France to learn French, but I can't help being intrigued by this strange-looking language, which doesn't seem to have anything in common with French, English, or any other language for that matter!

Just look at these example phrases:

Welcome = Ongi etorri
Hello = Kaixo
How are you? = Zer moduz?

It certainly doesn't look like any language I've ever seen before!

It reminds me of going on holiday to Wales (which is a small country in the west of the United Kingdom), and seeing and hearing Welsh everywhere I went. Welsh is like Basque in that it's totally different from the language that most people in the country speak. It's not like English at all!

Languages like these are called 'minority languages' because they are spoken by a smaller number of people than the other language (or languages) in a country. Basque is a minority language in France because most people speak French instead, and the number of Basque speakers is actually decreasing, especially among young people.

In my opinion, there is something really special about minority languages like Basque, because they bring local communities together and give people a unique identity that is a bit different from the rest of the country. It would be a shame if languages like Basque and Welsh disappeared, so I think it's wonderful that people are trying really hard to protect them.

Language level

Does your country have a minority language (or more than one)? Do you speak a minority language in your country? Do you think minority languages should be protected?

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