“What is the language in which you think?” Stupid question, I thought at first, smiling a little. But as I looked for an answer, I discovered: in several. I did not realise that before. In private I normally think Sorbian, in my profession sometimes German and depending on the situation it may also be Dutch, Polish or English.

Bogna Koreng/Korjeńkowa, anchorwoman of “Wuhladko” and director of the MDR public broadcasting studio in Bautzen/Budyšin, is ambassador of language diversity.

Bogna Koreng/Korjeńkowa, anchorwoman of “Wuhladko” and director of the MDR public broadcasting studio in Bautzen/Budyšin, is ambassador of language diversity.

I am very thankful to my parents for raising me in Sorbian and for giving me access to the Slavic languages. German friends can be very surprised when I can make myself understood to people in Slavic countries and can distinguish words and meaning from their reputed hissing sounds. I got acquainted with many delighted natives, who were much more friendly to me – an alleged German.

Because I was raised bilingually, in both Sorbian and German, and sometimes used a third language during holidays, foreign languages were more easily accessible for me. My life would be much poorer – both my private and professional life – if I had not been able to juggle with Slavic and Germanic languages.

For example during my encounter with the Polish border guard, who gives me, a journalist from Germany, information because I speak Polish so “ładnie” (beautifully); in Prague, where the barkeeper stands a round of drinks for his “Sorbian friends”; the puzzled farmers in Belgium, who almost forgot the price of their cows because of my knowledge of Dutch.

Yes, globalisation and multilingualism go together. Monolingualism can lead to one-sidedness and may present a danger of exclusion. If you do not know a second, or third, or fourth language, or at least understand them, you do not have access to the thoughts of the people, nor to a part of their life and way of living.

Despite globalisation, the special, your own identity, becomes more important. Minority languages are harbouring rich cultural assets, a source of heritage and hence a indispensable home, sometimes also a refuge. With my mother tongue I own an incredible treasure that I have to retain, reproduce and develop for my descendants. In my job as journalist and director of the Sorbian programme I try professionally to accomplish this task.

The best review after the Sorbian television show “WUHLADKO” was launched, was the following: “I never had thought that you can report about all these topics in the Sorbian language. And not just about traditional costumes and traditions.” Over a period of a decade our Sorbian editorial board has proven that we can cover any subject in our native language. Not only our traditions are rich; Sorbian in general is, and therefore the world that we make accessible with our language. And hence for me, Sorbian celebrations and traditional costumes are just as important as the development of new media in the Sorbian language.

I respect the people who invest their skills to make minority languages also visible in the social media: the people who create the technical infrastructure that is needed. They receive too little attention and support. I consider that this is an area of activity where I have to do more.

Without multilingualism a human being cannot move freely nowadays, he does not have the chance to taste cultural diversity in Europe. The minority languages are the icing on the language cake. And so let us take a portion: the bigger, the better.

And do not be afraid of multilingualism, but instead fear monolingualism. But, as you know, monolingualism is easy to cure.


Text in Upper Sorbian/hornjoserbsce: Serbska žurnalistka Bogna Korjeńkowa wo wjacerěčnosći