Multilingualism and Ethnic Minorities in Europe

Approximately 50 million people, about 14% of the European population, use a language other than that spoken by the majority of the State’s population. A piece of data which indicates to what extent linguistic as well as social and cultural diversity represents, for our continent, a wealth to treasure and one of the pillars in building a democratic Europe.
However, the European panorama of minority languages and cultures is not uniform in terms of legal framework. In fact, there are linguistic minorities that are highly protected (thanks to both political decisions and strong popular pressure) and have already entered a phase of modernization and development that enables them to face the challenges of contemporary society. Conversely there are linguistic minorities that, to date, have not yet been officially recognised and suffer from strong pressure by more widely spoken languages.
Italy too is a country with many linguistic minorities. Article 6 of the Italian Constitution states that «the Republic protects linguistic minorities by means of appropriate legal regulations» and this constitutional principle was fully implemented through the approval of Law 482/99. The minority languages recognised in Italy are as follows: Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, French, Franco-Provençal, Friulian, Griko, Ladin, Occitan, Sardinian, Slovene, German.

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