“Media Shape Values, Attitudes and Identities”

Speech by Antonia Luciani at Minority Media event in Flensburg

News / 07.6.19

Antonia Luciani is Vice President of the Coppieters Foundation and Editor of Corsican weekly journal Arritti.

She moderated the first panel of the conference “Minority Media and the challenges they face” jointly organised by Coppieters and MIDAS on 10 May 2019. Her introductory speech is published below.

In Corsica as in many other regions of Europe, the local language is disappearing. According to a study conducted by France’s statistics institute (Insee), 45% of the island’s population spoke Corsican in 2004. In 2015, a new study showed a diminution of this number, to around 42 percent. This number, while higher than for other regional languages, keeps diminishing, year after year. From 1977, when 80% of Corsicans spoke their language (Insee), in 1995 the number fell to 64%, and at the beginning of the 2000s, again to under 50%.

Today, only 2% of children learn Corsican from their families. The more at-home learning of minority languages is fading, the bigger the role the educational system must play in their preservation and promotion.

However, the latter cannot be achieved without support from the media world as well.

Newspapers, such as weekly Corsican Arritti, but also television channels, radio and news portals, publishing and broadcasting are instrumental in perpetuating the use of minority languages. Their role is, as such, essential to guarantee respect for minority rights, as defined by the 1992 Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities. The latter provides that minorities have the right to use and develop their own languages. These aspects are also enshrined in the legally-binding European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, specifically aimed at their protection and promotion, which remains to be ratified by countries such as France, where minority languages are most threatened.

The advancing of minority Media is a question of human rights, diversity in the European debate, and better communication across the continent.

Antonia Luciani

But beyond this, the media can also shape a more positive perception and attitude toward minority languages. As linguist and anthropologist Xavier Albó Corrons once wrote, “Present in the landscape and in the intimacy of every home, [the media] shape values, attitudes and even identities, like a fine rain that eventually penetrates the being’s every pore”. This quote underlines the primordial importance of the mediatic sphere to support minority languages. It explains well what is at play with minority media: visibility, and therefore vitality, for languages that are threatened to disappear.

Minority media also bring to the fore new ideas and alternative representations and identities, which are vital to the plurality of Europeanness and of the public debate. And the role of such media is not limited to the promotion of languages that are less used, or of cultural diversity, but also serves to connect European issues with all citizens over the continent, allowing a better outreach and shedding light on how Europe impacts (positively) on these citizens’ daily lives.

Regio 7, Berria, Új Szó, Vinte, Praza but also Arritti, among many others: all play an essential part in keeping the Catalan, Basque, Hungarian, Galician and Corsican languages and cultures alive, in contexts where they are fading. Such outlets should find more support within European citizens, but also within their peers from the majority and European decision-makers. The advancing of minority Media is a question of human rights, diversity in the European debate, and better communication across the continent.

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Coppieters Foundation is financially supported by the European Parliament. The European Parliament is not liable for the content of the conferences, events or the opinions of the authors of our publications.

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