The European Parliament has this week called on EU governments to do more to preserve regional and minority languages. This report follows soon after a report by the United Nations cultural body UNESCO, in which the Cornish language is now described as "endangered"
The report on endangered European languages and linguistic diversity in the European Union
recommends that the Member States “monitor the development of the most vulnerable languages on” and calls on the Commission to “consider whether it might lay down specific European measures to preserve, protect, and promote endangered languages” and to “propose concrete policy measures for the protection of endangered languages”.
Multi-linguist MEP Sir Graham Watson
, who represents Cornwall in the European Parliament, supported the report and after the vote in Strasbourg said
: “Protecting our regional culture and diversity is vital. And protecting ancient languages is just as important as protecting our regional food, drink and geography. For many years I have campaigned to encourage more people to take up another language. That is why I was very happy to support these proposals in Parliament today.
"As a linguist by training, I understand the importance of languages. Even with the spread of English as a language of communication, it is still dwarfed as a mother tongue by Mandarin and still less widely used than Spanish. And languages less widely used than these three often need active support. Language shapes thought, and linguistic diversity provides diverse forms of intelligence. Artifacts such as sculpture or scripture can be saved when a culture becomes extinct. A language cannot. It lives and dies with the people who speak it. We must therefore do all we can to preserve our languages."
, Cornish language campaigner and Liberal Democrat MP for North Cornwall, added: “I am pleased that the European Parliament has voted to recognise the importance of protecting cultural heritage such as the Cornish language. Sir Graham Watson's support has been unwavering on these issues and I thank him for that. It is my belief that the Cornish language is intrinsically worth supporting and encouraging - but it also brings benefits to the region in terms of cultural tourism and raising the status of Cornwall.