“The people in Lusatia should cherish the natural bilingualism and multilingualism in their region and know how to use it!” That was the bottom line according to the participants of the first Forum on Language Planning for the Upper Sorbian language in Bautzen / Budyšin, Germany
On Saturday 7 September 2013 a one-day forum on language planning for the Upper Sorbian language took place in the House of the Sorbs (Serbski Dom) in Bautzen. The meeting was organised by the WITAJ Language Centre in cooperation with the European language campaign language diversity.
The main subject for the meeting was the issue of modern language promotion: how can I maintain a language and how can I raise the status and the image of the Sorbian language within the context of European linguistic minorities?
50 participants, mainly Sorbs and other interested people from the region and some invited experts from the fields of marketing, new media, the economy and tourism accepted the invitation to discuss this subject. In small groups the first ideas were collected on how to raise the image of Sorbian in the multilingual region of Lusatia, in the border region of Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic.
“I am very satisfied with the outcomes of the first Forum on Language Planning. We had active and very interesting discussions that we will now evaluate together. The participants were very motivated and I am glad that I have received the first responses on further cooperation”, said Dr Beata Brězan, the leader of the WITAJ-Language Centre in Bautzen/Budyšin.
Prof Dr Jeroen Darquennes, professor for German and general linguistics at University of Namur in Belgium gave a theoretical background at the start of the meeting and answered many different questions from the participants: “I was very pleased to accept the invitation to Lusatia and I am glad with this initiative. Only with a well-conceived language planning and in cooperation with several representatives of the region will it be possible to maintain a small language, such as Sorbian, and to promote it. We made a start; now we have to keep our finger on the pulse and create a structure for the good ideas and measures, find partners and implement these ideas together!”
The conclusion has to be: there is a lot to be done, in order to take into account all the areas of language planning of the Upper Sorbian language. Starting with status planning the organisers and participants arrived at a result and a wish: in Lusatia the bilingualism and multilingualism in the border region Germany-Poland-Czech Republic should be cherished, and a common multilingual space where language use is self-evident for everyone should be developed!
“We are still relatively at the start, but we had the chance to collect many good ideas. Not only in the fields of media, economy and tourism, but also concrete ideas for poster-campaigns, that we can prepare locally in Lusatia with our language diversity team; however, we don’t want to give away these ideas already now! Of course we hope to receive support from the town and the district”, said Judith Walde, the project manager of the European language campaign “language diversity”, that is being supported by the European Commission.
After the evaluation of the first Forum a follow-up meeting will be planned and there we once again hope to have an active discussion with all participants and also with other persons who may be interested.