The story of Goaitsen

Posted: 2018-01-16
Written by: EU Network
Category: Europe
Tagged: rights politics minorities language human rights history europe eu

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Goaitsen has lived his whole life in the small Frisian village of Wyns, in the Netherlands.

Now he is retired. One day he accidentally leaves the stove on. The kitchen is already burning by the time he notices, so he calls the 112 emergency number. A friendly lady, Anita, answers the phone, but since the emergency line was recently centralised to another part of the country, she does not speak Frisian and Goaitsen has trouble making himself understood in Dutch. As a consequence Anita sends the firemen to Wynaldum instead of Wyns, and Goaitsen’s house burns down to the ground, before the firemen eventually arrive one hour late.

His story proves how crucial it can be to use your mother tongue, and make yourself understood in your mother tongue. In Wales (United Kingdom) for example there is always at least one person on each shift who can speak Welsh at the emergency centre. This is definitely a good practice worth sharing and promoting in the Netherlands and in the entire EU.

According to UNESCO, the world has over 6000 languages. If nothing is done, half of these will disappear by the end of the 21st century. Humanity would lose not only a cultural wealth but also important ancestral knowledge embedded in these languages. The key for the survival of smaller languages is to use themanywhere, anytime, in all possible contexts.

Everywhere in Europe and around the world, new solutions are being developed for language learning and for the use of different languages in practice to cater for the need of small language communities.

 

Often economy of scale negatively affects small language groups – investment in new applications or solutions are too costly for a small linguistic community.

 

--- Solution: the Minority SafePack Initiative! ---

Minority Safepack: We call upon the EU to establish and provide funding to a Language Diversity Centre in the field of regional and minority languages, focusing on the smallest and most vulnerable language communities in Europe. The Language Diversity Centre shall provide information, knowledge and expertise and pool resources that can help different language communities to learn from each other.

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