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Language Rights in Relations with Public Administration: European Perspectives

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image of International Journal on Minority and Group Rights

The preservation of linguistic diversity has recently become a major concern to many researchers, politicians and leaders of linguistic communities in Europe. The issue of linguistic minorities has taken on a particular urgency because of the increasing recognition of the threat of extinction faced by many minority languages. The need for immediate action has become obvious. Europe has slowly but steadily started to come up with responses to how to keep the most vulnerable languages from extinction and guarantee rights to speakers of such languages at the same time. Today we can talk about the emergence of a European minimum standard of protection of language rights as it has developed since the 1990s in the European conventions and their monitoring activities. There is general understanding that three areas of the use of languages – education, administrative affairs and the media – are determinant for the survival of minority languages. The present article focuses on one of such areas, which has revealed to be particularly contentious and a source of ever-increasing concern. It investigates the guarantees provided in the Council of Europe's instruments pertaining to the use of minority languages before public authorities, the practical difficulties and ways of their overcoming in the implementation of the rights enshrined in European treaties.

Affiliations: 1: Robert Schuman Center, European University Institute, San Domenico di Fiesole (FI), Italy;, Email:


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