The linguistic situation in Switzerland, with special regard to linguistic minorities (I-II)
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(This abstract also covers Part I of the article published Ibid. vol.100(2004), No. 2, pp.159-170) It has recently been suggested in many parts of the world that globalisation might endanger languages and cultures of smaller groups of people. This may primarily concern communities living in the territory of another nation, in a minority situation. Obviously, all minority groups have the right to preserve their mother tongue and the culture of their ancestors; but it is not at all easy to do so among the economic and social trends of recent decades. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it has been exposed to changes in the past few decades that affect its linguistic situation, too. Two of the four official languages listed in the 1996 constitution of Switzerland, German and French, have a leading role at present, too. On the other hand, the use of Italian is declining, and Romansh - despite efforts to the contrary and decisions that favour the community speaking it - is being supplanted. The increasing number of immigrants (e.g., Portuguese, Spaniards, Turks) makes many people suggest that Switzerland is not a quadrilingual but rather a multilingual country today, and the linguistic and educational policies of the country should promote the solution of linguistic and cultural problems of all minority groups. The centuries-old democratic traditions of Switzerland and the various earlier modifications of their language laws may serve as a firm foundation for that and as a model to be followed.
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