All over Europe, there seems to be a trend toward the revitalization of ancient, local languages or dialects, most of which were replaced over the centuries by what became national languages. The case is especially striking in France, where, for most of the 20th century, pupils and students could be punished in public schools for uttering a non-French word. Quite interestingly, this policy developped in parallel with the colonial policy, which saw the French language as the surest vector of civilizing–while other languages were downgraded to barbarian or uneducated. Thus, French students in Britanny, for example, were treated in a way similar to an African child in one of the colonies. What effect–good and bad–this policy has had on the French language itself is to be determined.

In the context of European decentralization, however, many of the country’s traditional tongues–Breton, Catalan, Occitan, and, in this case, Basque, are undergoing a renewal. Read the full article here.