Delegation of the French RepublicPosition paper for SOCHUM    Topic: Cultural genocide and preservation of heritageRepresented by Jubail International SchoolFrance is home to many diverse natural and cultural heritages. Religious buildings, gardens, parks, and fortified towns contribute to the radiance of French culture.  The varieties of sites that can be visited wield strong powers of attraction on tourists. Although France is filled with many natural and cultural heritages, it needs to protect its regional languages.September 5, 2005 France was accused by Patrick Le Lay, head of the well known, top ranking French television station, TF1 of cultural genocide for its abolishment of Breton — the Celtic language spoken by the people of Brittany. According to UNESCO Breton is spoken by 250,000 out of the 3.75 million people who live in Brittany – half the number that spoke it 20 years ago.

In the beginning of the last century approximately 1.2 million spoke the language and had not known of the ban from 1902 to 1951 which disapproved the teaching of Breton. Paris decided to dissolve the region into a French-speaking area. “If in a family you no longer speak the language of your grandparents, it is because people came along and stopped you ..

.. There is no greater crime against humanity — apart from killing people — than killing their language. France carried out a cultural genocide of the Breton language,” Le Lay said. Brittany’s relationship with the French state deteriorated after World War II.

Activists that were accused of working with the German occupiers were killed. For years later, the language was banned in schools, with playground notices reading: “No spitting on the ground or speaking Breton.” During that time, the language was something hidden. It had no public life. The situation is very fragile, since the speakers will move from 200,000 speakers 70,000 in the next 10 years. With revolutionary thinkers stating that regional languages represented the barbarism of the past and needed to be completely wiped out, regions such as Brittany, Corsica, Alsace, and Basque areas in the southwest, are still living with the effects of language apartheid today.

Remarkably, in 2008 the French National Assembly voted for a constitutional amendment perceived regional languages as part of French heritage. Delegate General for the French Language and the languages of France at the Ministry of Culture and Communication stated that the French government was spending one million euros to support regional languages by hiring bilingual teachers and funding organisations such as Public Office for the Breton Language. All regional languages could be kept alive and in order to keep alive Breton and other languages the French Republic could teach kids Breton in schools, make some television shows in Breton, and to make the language just another language of the French Republic.


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