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Ethnic Germans as a Language Minority in Central and Eastern Europe: Legislative and Policy Frameworks in Poland, Hungary and Romania

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Minority Languages in Europe

Abstract

In many cases, language is a vital component of individual and group identity and figures prominently among the aspects by which ethnic minorities distinguish themselves from majority populations in their host-countries. Thus, the very survival of a minority population as a distinct ethnocultural group often depends upon provision for the continued preservation of its mother tongue as a living language. This can normally only be achieved if this language is used in public as well as the private sphere and is taught as a first language at schools, which, in turn, is only possible if political and legal conditions are in place that allow minorities to ‘live’ in their language. Such conditions include, above all, a commitment by the relevant state not to discriminate against people who speak a language other than the language of the titular nation. However, general non-discrimination legislation and its enforcement are often not enough to enable a minority to preserve its language. The Oslo Recommendations regarding the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities emphasise that the legislative framework also needs to provide for complete equality in the use of individual and place names, must allow language use in the practice and profession of religion and religious ceremonies, that it should extend permissively into community life, the media, and public administration and that adequate funding should be provided for the implementation of such laws.

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© 2003 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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Wolff, S., Cordell, K. (2003). Ethnic Germans as a Language Minority in Central and Eastern Europe: Legislative and Policy Frameworks in Poland, Hungary and Romania. In: Hogan-Brun, G., Wolff, S. (eds) Minority Languages in Europe. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230502994_6

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