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By Ivo Banac, Katherine Verdery

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Example text

French opposition to multiculturalism relates especially to language. France has been reluctant to support minority languages for three reasons: (1) the fear of national unity being undermined; (2) the belief that the purity of the French language was being destroyed by infusions of other languages, notably English; and (3) the decline of the global importance of French. Some have argued that if France wants French to be maintained abroad as an important language (albeit a minority one compared to English), it must practice a quid pro quo; it must support minority languages at home (Safran 1999).

For Kallen, culture referred to a community’s collective patrimony, including its history, language, literature, religion, social customs and traditions; and he believed that the various cultures had intrinsic worth and should not be snuffed out. In arguing against homogenization and uniformity, Kallen wanted to replace the metaphor of the “melting pot” with that of an orchestra – “with each instrument likened to a cultural group making its unique contribution to the symphony of civilization” (Ratner 1984).

In the case of the Breton language, the question has often been posed: “Of what use is it”? Such a utilitarian view caused the Abbé Grégoire to ask the Convention in 1794 to wipe out local languages (anéantir les patois). g. German in Sudetenland; Russian in Estonia and Latvia; Tamil in Sri Lanka; Greek and Turkish in Cyprus; and a variety of other languages instrumentalized for political purposes, including Moldavian, Albanian, Arabic, Catalan, and Hungarian? What if the neighboring state is hostile?

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