The Protection of Linguistic Minorities: A Historical Approach

Eduardo Javier Ruiz Vieytez

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Abstract

The formal protection of linguistic minorities in Europe is an extraordinarily recent phenomenon in the sphere of international law. Nevertheless, concern about the existence, tolerance or protection of linguistic minority communities has existed for a long time. A historical perspective is used to analyse the legal and political treatment that linguistic minorities have received in the various epochs defined. The solutions adopted by different countries for the protection of minority languages have varied widely for social and political reasons rather than juridical ones. The evolution of the protection of lesser-used languages in European history is not linear, although it is clear that concern about linguistic questions has grown over the last 150 years. Indeed, not until the twentieth century was legal recognition of some linguistic rights for minorities incorporated into international treaties.

Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:

Javier Ruiz Vieytez, Eduardo. The Protection of Linguistic Minorities: A Historical Approach. IJMS: International Journal on Multicultural Societies. 2001, vol. 3, no.1, pp. 5-14. UNESCO. ISSN 1817-4574. www.unesco.org/shs/ijms/vol3/issue1/art1

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