Communication by the Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities on the occasion of the
European Day of Languages
At the initiative of the Council of Europe, we celebrate the European Day of Languages every year on 26 September. As the Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities in charge of defending the rights of Hungarian nationalities, I consider this day to be of paramount importance, as it sets the linguistic diversity of our continent into the spotlight.
The nationality communities in Europe, including Hungary, can do their utmost for the survival of their own identity by preserving and caring for their mother tongue, teaching their mother tongue and teaching in their mother tongue. Europe's colorful language kaleidoscope consists of 225 native languages, 24 official EU languages, 60 regional and minority languages, and many other languages spoken by people from other parts of the world. The European Day of Languages is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness among European citizens about the variety of languages in our continent and to raise public awareness of the importance of linguistic and cultural diversity and language learning.
Globalization, as well as the deepening of European integration and increasing mobility, are all factors in which European citizens are, in their everyday life, increasingly confronted with the fact of linguistic diversity. It is worth knowing that at least half of the world's population is bilingual or multilingual, in Europe this is a common phenomenon among members of nationality communities. Bilingualism has many advantages: it simplifies learning more languages, makes thinking more sophisticated, and promotes relationships with other people and their culture. In addition, bilingualism and multilingualism also provide economic benefits: those who speak multiple languages are more likely to be employed in the labour market, and multilingual businesses are more competitive than the monolingual ones.
The European countries that signed and ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages adopted by the Council of Europe in 1992, including Hungary, have undertaken to protect the linguistic rights of certain minority communities living in their territory, which is a key element in ensuring the education of national minorities at different levels. On the European Day of Languages, I must point out that encouraging the use of native language by nationalities, increasing the number of our multilingual or multilingual compatriots and linguistic diversity, in general, are invaluable advantages for the whole society in all areas of life.
Prof. Elisabeth Sándor-Szalay
Deputy-Commissioner for Fundamental Rights
Ombudsman for the Rights of National Minorities