How the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages Limits Itself from Harnessing Its Economic and Societal Benefits


Qualitative and quantitative research shows individual (de la Fuentes Stevens & Pelkonen, 2021), societal and economic benefits of multilingual policies, particularly for increasing foreign directed investment (FDI), public trust, and indirectly annual GDP growth (Liu, 2015). Since the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) is a large growing framework for promoting multilingualism, it is important to understand if it harnesses these benefits. A statistical analysis of Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Albania showed that recognition of more languages significantly decreased public trust and GDP growth. However, recognition (versus no recognition) also significantly increased public trust. These results highlight limits of the ECRML's benefits: While recognition compared to no recognition is beneficial, recognising more languages is not. I explain this through the ECRML giving signatory states high autonomy in deciding which languages get protected and how. Linguistic communities are thus partitioned into competing groups, lowering public trust. A qualitative comparison of the differing recognition and quality of protection for Frisian (high protection) and Papiamento (no protection) by the Netherlands strengthened this argument. Results indicated the autonomy the ECRML gives states caused recognition and quality of protection to not be guaranteed, risking framing them as scares resources. Thus, the ECRML risks losing the benefits of multilingual policies, through the autonomy signatory states are given.

Author Information
Walther Glodstaf, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, United States

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2022
Stream: Plurilingualism - Bilingualism

This paper is part of the ECLL2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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