Al Jazeera

Irish MEP strikes for right to speak her own language

An Irish member of the European parliament is staging a “language strike” in protest against what she calls the discrimination against her mother tongue within European Union institutions and the “dismantling” of Irish language services by the government in Dublin.

Liadh Ni Riada says the Irish language is "excluded and ignored" in EU institutions

Liadh Ni Riada says the Irish language is “excluded and ignored” in EU institutions [European Union/EP]

Liadh Ní Riada, an MEP for the south of Ireland who grew up and lives in an Irish-speaking community, has been communicating only in Irish in the parliament since the beginning of the month and plans to continue until St Patrick’s Day on March 17.

Minority and regional language campaigners and supporters from across Europe have backed Ní Riada, and accused the EU and member states of failing to meet their own commitments on protecting linguistic diversity.

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Al Jazeera

Regional language campaigners denounce France

Campaigners for French regional language rights have called on UNESCO to grant them “cultural asylum” and accused the French state of systematic linguistic discrimination amid growing concern for the future of languages such as Breton and Occitan.

Campaigners gathered outside UNESCO's headquarters in Paris.

Campaigners gathered outside UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris.

Protesters gathered outside the UN cultural organisation’s Paris headquarters on Wednesday carrying banners that said: “French state killing our languages.”

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Ancient languages and modern sounds

By any standards, SomBy are not your typical visitors to a primary school. This northern Finnish band’s members sing in Sami, the native language of their part of Finland, and they wear brightly embroidered traditional tunics. But they are no folk singers. Their music is turbo-charged metal.

SomBy rock Liet International [Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe]

SomBy rock Liet International [Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe]

“The title of this song translates as something like… Empty Destruction,” says guitarist Oula Guttorm, launching into crunching chords.

The Friessel school in Friesland, in the Netherlands’ northernmost province, where I watched them play this weekend, is hardly a typical educational establishment. It’s one of a growing number of trilingual schools where children are taught Dutch and English and the local language, Frisian.

SomBy are in the Frisian capital, Leeuwarden, to compete at Liet International, an annual event dubbed the “minority languages Eurovision”.

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