Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Why I love minority languages

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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.

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Discussion

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?

Comments

sanpai28's picture
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sanpai28 17 October, 2015 - 12:25

Our country has really a lot of minority languages because our country is a combination of many different ethnic groups. Each group has its own language, culture, tradition and lifestyle. And all are amazing and beautiful with their own unique styles. Our ethnic groups respect each other and love each other's tradition. But usually, one ethnic group doesn't speak other ethnic group's language. But all ethnic groups take care of their own languages not to disappear and protect them together. This is because our country is not made of only one ethnic group but made of all ethnic groups and all ethnic groups worked together sacrificing their blood and sweat to make this country stand till today.

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Ganesdita's picture
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Ganesdita 18 March, 2015 - 13:03

yeah, i totally agree with you niluh.. I'm Indonesian and also Javanese. I find many varieties of Javanese language in Central Java. In Banyumas or Purwakarta, you may find their people speak "Ngapak", Ngapak is the unique dialect in our province.. but most of young people don't care about it, that's very sad

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Niluh's picture
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Niluh 21 June, 2014 - 14:53

Yes, my country has many minority or we called it traditional languages in some zones. I have been lived in one of cities in west java where most people speak in Sundanese language, now i am able to speak it quite fluent, i can understand and response properly when i have a conversation with native speakers. This language is quite similar with Indonesian which i could easily learn then speak fluently.
Sundanese and another minority languages must be protected, if they disappear it means we lose our heritage as well.

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