Historic language minorities in the age of globalization: ideology and practice
Carmela Perta (University “G. D’Annunzio”) [BIO]
In the light of the revitalization trend of minority languages spread throughout Europe and following the example of both International and European legislation, on 15th December 1999 Italian law 482/1999 Regulations regarding the protection of historic language minorities, gave a national framework to regional minority language preservation and renaissance. The legislation made it possible to use the language of those recognised minority languages in education, in public offices, in local government, in the judicial system, in the mass media, and allowed for the reinstatement of place and personal names. The status and prestige of those minority and regional languages thus appeared to be strengthened even in the globalized world, with the result of a seeming acceptance of the heterogeneity of language uses. However, several theoretical and practical problems continue to impede the enforcement of the national law.
The purpose of this paper is to show that, paradoxically, where the speakers use a language maintained in private and as expression of cultural heritage different practices are tolerated, but things change when it becomes legally recognised gaining status and prestige. This is demonstrated by the results of a fieldwork I carried out in a small town in the South of Italy where members speak “Franco-Provençal”, one of the legally recognised minority languages.