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The new member states of the European Union: linguistic demography and language policies, by Albert Branchadell


To gauge the application of the Charter in the four states that have ratified it, there are periodic reports issued by the states that may be consulted, as well as reports by the Committee of experts and the recommendation of the Committee of Ministers.

The periodic reports issued by the states can be consulted at the following address. The first such periodic reports were published at this site on the 1st May 2004, from Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary, as well as the second by Hungary. 

The reports issued by the various Committees of experts may similarly be consulted at. Here, on the 1st May there appeared the report from the Committee of Experts on the first periodic report from Hungary.

Lastly, the Ministerial recommendations may be consulted at the following address. Here on the 1st May there appeared the recommendations from the Committee of ministers on arising out of the first Hungarian periodic report.

Which languages do the four states that have ratified the Charter commit themselves to protecting? Table 9 summarises the situation as reflected in the respective documents of ratification, which are available for general consultation at the following address.

Table 9. Languages with protection by the states that have ratified the Charter

State Protected languages
Hungary German, Croatian, Slovak, Slovenian, Romanian and Serbian
Slovenia Italian and Hungarian
Slovakia German, Bulgarian, Croatian, Hungarian, Polish, Romany, Ruthenian, Czech and Ukrainian
Cyprus Armenian

An interesting question is the relationship between regional and minority languges recognised in the ratification of the Charter, and the languages protected by internal jurisdiction. In the case of Hungary, for instance, article 42 of Law LXXVII of 1993 on the rights of ethnic and national minorities recognises more languages than the six mentioned in the Hungarian document officially ratifying the European Charter. Naturally, beyond the question of the number of languages is the really interesting question of whether the protection afforded by internal legislation is greater or lesser than would follow from endorsement or ratification of the Charter. Unfortunately, there is no space to enter into such questions in an article like this which sets out to give a panoramic overview.

4. Conclusions

Overall, the ten new member states of the European Union present moderate linguistic complexity. Seven of the ten states are homogeneous in both Fishman's and Lijphart's terms and only two are clearly heterogeneous. The two heterogeneous states are Estonia and Latvia, where the internal linguistic complexity is in large part the result of population movements which occurred under Soviet domination during the 20th century. In the event that Cyprus reunifies, that island will be the third heterogeneous state, with the proviso that internally it will still consist of two clearly homogeneous territories and most probably the resulting state will be organised politically as a confederation of these two territories. In terms of language policy, all states except Malta and Cyprus have one official state language. Malta's case is exceptional, as we have said, because the second official language (English) is not the mother tongue of any significant group of speakers on the island. And in the case of Cyprus, even though the Republic has two official languages, in the current political situation on the island, as we have said, the Republic functions as an officially monolingual state. In general, there is no situation in any of the ten states that is even broadly comparable to the one in which the Catalan language finds itself. In any case, the most interesting developments from the Catalan point of view could be the way in which Latvia and Estonia treat their substantial Russian-speaking minorities, the result in the main of immigration during the Soviet era, and the uptake, in Cyprus, of linguistic (con) federalism in the event that the island is reunified.

5. Bibliography

Badia, I. Diccionari de les llengües d'Europa. Barcelona: Enciclopèdia Catalana, 2002.

Fishman, J. A. "Some Contrasts between Linguistically Homogeneous and Linguistically.

Heterogeneous Polities". In: Fishman, Joshua A. et al. (eds.). Language Problems of Developing Nations. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1968.

Lijphart, A. Democracies. Yale University Press, 1984. Spanish version: Las democracias contemporáneas. Barcelona: Ariel, 19912.

Siguan, M. L'Europa de les llengües. Barcelona: Edicions 62, 1995.

Vernet, J. (ed.). Dret lingüístic. Valls: Cossetània, 2003. 


Štatistický úrad Slovenskej republiky
Statistical Office of the Slovak Republic

Statisticni urad Republike Slovenije
Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia

Statistical Office of Estonia

Központi Statisztikai Hivatal
Hungarian Central Statistical Office

Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia

Statistikos departamentas prie Lietuvos Respublikos Vyriausybes
Department of Statistics to the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (Statistics Lithuania)

National Statistics Office

Polska Statystyka Publiczna
Polish Official Statistics

Czech Statistical Office

Statistical Service of the Republic of Cyprus

Albert Branchadell
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Departament de Filologia Catalana

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