Jul 30, 2002

Göran Hansson speaks out on Linguistic diversity

Göran Hansson, Vice Chairman of the UNPO, addressed the participants in the Round Table Discussion on Linguistic Diversity of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages. The conference took place the 14th and 15th of June in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.

Hansson is a representative of Scania - some people call it a language, some a dialect - spoken in the southern Swedish region of Skåne. Scanian is not recognised by the Swedish Government in the Council of Europe’s Charter for Regional or Minority languages. In this document, only Sami, Finnish and Meänkieli (Tornedalian Finnish) are considered regional or minority languages. Romani Chib and Yiddish are regarded as non-territorial minority languages in Sweden. But the perspective of the Swedish authorities is clear: ‘Scanian is not a minority language, it’s a dialect, and as such it will not be dealt with in minority policy related issues. This was decided in the 1999 recommendation for national minorities. To be recognized as a language, it has to be clearly different.’
Göran Hansson doesn’t give up - the Scanian from the Foundation for the Future of Scania plans several publications: ‘We are trying to produce a working paper with the title ‘The liberation of languages.’ The small languages should be free to develop in any direction, depending on the logic of geography.

At the conference, he addressed the global problem of disappearing languages. “About half of the 6,500 languages may have disappeared by the time our grandchildren come of age.” He looks to Europe to lead the way in taking responsibility for this global problem. “Let us together try to make the present nation states, both in Europe and elsewhere- better places for all small nations and peoples. Places in which all nations and peoples can thrive, develop, and prosper.”