information below is aimed at the foreign visitor wanting an idea of
data - Abroad - Culture - Public
admin. - Research - In film -
Dictionaries - Running of state
Grammer - In song - Literary
life - European com. - Soliciters
- Courts of law - Religion
and notes - On road signs - In
advertising - On radio and tv - In the
press - At school
If French is the official language of legislative
documents, and German is the most used language in the press, what then is the
place in everyday life of Luxembourgish,the national language?
km² - Inhabitants: 400.900 - Foreign residents: 124.500
Employed: 203.200 - Salary-earners: 187.000
- Self-employed: 16.200 Frontier workers: 47.300:
Ref. Statec 1.1.1993 and 1.1.1994.
DAILY USAGE OF LUXEMBOURGISH:
All Luxembourgers speak Luxembourgish
at home, while first- and second-generation immigrants generally speak the language
of their country of origin. In the workspace - in offices, workshops, on building
sites, in shops and factories - Luxembourgers speak Luxembourgish among themselves.
The language of communication with first-generation immigrants and frontier
workers speaking Latin languages is French. German is spoken by Luxembourgers
to German frontier workers.
It should be noted that Luxembourgish is the mothertongue
of a considerable number of Belgian, French and German frontier workers. Second-
and third-generation immigrants generally know Luxembourgish but do not speak
it among themselves.
LUXEMBOURGISH AT SCHOOL:
Luxembourgish is the language of instruction in pre-school education (Spillschoul),
where young Luxembourgers perfect their knowledge of their mother tongue from
the age of four to six.
Foreign children learn Luxembourgish at the same stage
by mixing with their Luxembourg classmates, as well as through specific teaching.
At the primary school stage German increasingly becomes the main language
of instruction. Luxembourgish is taught systematically for one hour per week.
It is also the language of practical activities, as well as the language of communication
between pupils and between pupils and teachers. French is taught from the second
half of the second school year on. It is then used increasingly as a back-up language
in teaching. In secondary general education, French is the language of instruction
from the fourth year on. Luxembourgish is still the language of communication
between students, and students and teachers.
In technical education some sectors
retain German as their main language of instruction, while practical training
is mainly carried out in Luxembourgish.
All pre-school teachers are trained
to teach Luxembourgish to foreign children (approx. 30% of the pupils). All primary
school teachers are qualified to teach Luxembourgish, in addition to teaching
German and French as foreign languages.
Courses in Portuguese, Italian and
Spanish are given to the children of immigrants by native teachers provided by
their respective embassies or consulates.
Since 1976 courses in Luxembourgish
for foreigners have been given through the National Ministry of Education and
the "Action Letzebuergesch" association.
IN THE PRESS:
Luxembourgish is little used in the ordinary press nowadays. If it is not
often found in articles, it does, however, play an important part in births, marriages
and deaths columns and in announcements by associations. Weekly publications and
especially cultural periodics tend to use Luxembourgish regularly and increasingly.
LUXEMBOURGISH ON RADIO AND TELEVISION:
broadcasts a complete programme schedule in Luxembourgish on FM (92.5m): national
and international news, as well as sports, cultural, literary, musical, political,
economic, social, agricultural and horticole features. Broadcasts (6.30 to 20.30)
are to some extent listened to by all homes. A number of independent, regional
and local radio stations broadcast occasionally or entirely in Luxembourgish.
For many years Tele-Letzebuerg broadcast on a weekly basis, but these broadcasts
are now daily, 19.00 to 21.30 on Sundays.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN ADVERTISING:
Advertising posters for public institutions such as the Railway, the Postoffice
and the State Savings Bank are generally bilingual: French/German, Luxembourgish/French
or Luxembourgish/German. Commercial billboard advertising tends to use Luxembourgish
relatively little. Circulars and flyers posted into letter boxes are almost exclusively
in Luxembourgish when they are distributed by local businesses or travelling sales-people.
Advertising brochures increasingly contain advertisements and articles in Luxembourgish.
Brochures from large companies (cars, household goods) are only in German or French.
Advertisements in daily and weekly newspapers are mainly in French and German,
but a significant and growing number of advertisers use Luxembourgish. Advertisements
on RTL-Letzebuerg radio and television broadcast are exclusively in Lxembourgish.
LUXEMBOURGISH ON ROAD-SIGNS:
Signs at the
entrance to towns and villages are bilingual, in French/Luxembourgish. Signposts
on motorways and main roads are in French or the language of the country into
which they lead.
LUXEMBOURGISH ON COINS AND BANK NOTES:
Coins and bank notes have French on one side and Luxembourgish on the other.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION:
posters at the occasion of elections are in Luxembourgish, French and German.
The posting of marriage banns and local authority announcements or notices are
in French, German or Luxembourgish, and in certain areas possibly in Portuguese
Official forms (e.g.tax declarations) are bilingual, in German
and French. Official certi- ficates such as birth certificates are in French.
Passports are trilingual, Luxembourgish/French/English; the heading of identity
cards is in French, English, German and Luxembourgish, the wording in French and
English. Driving, hunting and fishing licences are issued in French.
speak Luxembourgish only in their dealings with civil servants on a local or national
level. Citizens write to the public authorities in French, German or Luxembourgish.
Civil servants as a rule answer in the language used by the corespondent. Trainee
civil servants have to attend a course and sit an exam in Luxembourgish.
IN THE RUNNING OF THE STATE:
The Grand Duke and
the Ministers address the nation in Luxembourgish. Draft legislation, as well
as laws and government announcements are in French, the official languages of
Certain important declarations are however made in Luxembourgish.
The debates of the Chamber of Deputies are almost entirely in Luxembourgish and
are published in that language in the official records, distributed free to all
Local council debates are in Luxembourgish, with records in French
or German. Ministerial circulars and communiqués are in French. Administrative
circulars affecting the public are often accompanied by a German translation.
Written questions by parliamentarians are generally formulated in French, and
sometimes in German or Luxembourgish.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN THE EUROPEAN
Luxembourgish is recognised by the European
Union as the national language of a member state. It does not, however, figure
on the cover of the European passport.
The teaching of Luxembourgish in other
member states can benefit from the LINGUA programme, aimed at encouraging teacher
training, adult education and the production of didactic material.
is neither an official language of the European Union nor a working language of
the European institutions. The Treaties of Paris, Rome and Maastricht have not
been translated into Luxembourgish.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN COURTS OF LAW:
In criminal cases, the questioning of the accused, victims and witnesses is
done in Luxemburgish. Lawyers plead in French, rarely in Luxembourgish.
ruling is handed down in and published in French. As for civil cases, they are
carried out between judges and lawyers, in the absence of the affected parties,
in French. If there is to be questioning of the parties, it is done in Luxembourgish.
Judges will not hesitate to use French or German to question parties who do
not speak Luxembourgish. Lawyers, even if they are foreigners, are supposed to
LUXEMBOURGISH AND SOLICITORS:
Solicitors will always converse with their Luxembourgish clients in Luxembourgish.
They draw up and read deeds in French, but they will not hesitate, if needs be,
to accompany their reading with comments in Luxembourgish.
Bills of sale drafted
by solicitors are in French or German, rarely in Luxembourgish.
IN RELIGIOUS SERVICES:
Since the liturgical reform
of the Catholic Church, services are celebrated increasingly in Luxembourgish.
There is still no authentic and complete translation into Luxembourgish of the
Readings from Old and New Testaments are thus in French
or German. Religious marriages and funeral services are generally carried out
in Luxembourgish, Members of the clergy have no difficulty in using French, German
or English, and where possible the languages of immigrant workers. There is an
official Luxembourgish version of the canon of the Mass, and of the rituals of
baptism, marriage and burial ceremonies.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN LITERARY
Given that there are only 300,000 speakers
of the language, literary publishing in Luxembourgish is remarkably thriving.
Best-selling novels may be published in print runs of up to 4,000 copies. Since
the average household is made up by 2.6 persons, this represents a copy for every
homes. Plays and poetry generally have more modest print runs of less than 1,000
Although there are excellent translations of Tintin, Asterix and Walt
Disney albums, in print runs of up to 9,000 copies, there are few original works
for young people and children. Luxembourgish theatre is very popular. All villages
or towns with more than 300 inhabitants put on at least one theatrical performance
a year, through their local musical, choral, sports, firemen or other associations,
or by some amateur group.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN SONG:
Hundreds of songs for young and old testify to the lyrical vein of Luxembourg's
poets and the creativity of her musicians.
The operetta has been popular for
more than a century. Variety shows and cabaret in Luxembourgish play to full houses.
Several rock and folk groups sing in the language. Popular and school song books
are regularly reissued and contain numerous songs in Luxembourgish, together with
songs in other languages.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN FILM:
A feature film and a number of shorts testify to the viability of an admittedly
small but high-quality film industry, even in a small country.
has involved itself recently in supporting existing initiatives, as part of the
development of the audio-visual-media.
LUXEMBOURGISH IN DICTIONARIES:
The first Luxembourgish/German-French dictionary dates from 1847.
dictionary appeared in 1906. Under the auspices of the Grand-Ducal Institute a
large dictionary of the Luxembourgish language appeared in five volumes between
1950 and 1954.
A permanent commission follows the development of the vocabulary.
In recent times French-Luxembourgish and German-Luxembourgish dictionaries have
facilitated the learning of Luxembourgish.
A Lexicon containing the French,
German, English, Spanish and Portuguese equivalent of the 6000 most-used Luxembourgish
words has also been designed.
LUXEMBOURGISH GRAMMAR AND SPELLING:
The most recent standardisation of spelling coincided with the compilation
of the large Luxembourgish dictionary. The last official circular on spelling
was issued in 1976. The official spelling is applied in teaching and in public
and private publishing, but not as systematically in private correspondence. Re-editions
of texts from before the reform retain the original spelling, except in the case
of school anthologies.
The first standardised grammar dates back to 1955.
Up-dated and amended re-editions were published in 1968, 1973, 1976. The Ministry
for Education publishes regularly compilations of texts with grammar elements
research into Luxembourgish concentrates mainly on the regional variations of
Östling, Minette and the areas around Vianden, Echternach and Luxembourg itself.
Such studies have been inextricably linked, since the nineteenth century, with
research carried out on the dialects of the regions of Trier, Saarbrücken, Arlon
and the French Lorraine.
An atlas of the Luxembourgish language was designed
in 1963. Linguistic and terminological studies are fostered and co-ordinated by
the linguistics, folk and toponymy section of the Grand-Ducal Institute.
PROMOTION OF THE LUXEMBOURGISH LANGUAGE AND CULTURE:
The proclamation in law of Luxembourgish as the national language of the Grand
Duchy on 24 February 1984 conferred a new status on Luxembourgish literature.
But its success over the last fifty years is due on the one hand to the flourishing
of remarkable talents, and on the other, to the courage of publishers and the
enthusiasm of the public.
First there is the school-based promotional activity
fostered by the Government. The teaching of Luxembourgish, especially to the children
of Italian and Portuguese immigrants has achieved remarkable results.
government also finances the Grand-Ducal Institute. In the near future, special
funding will foster literary work. Two associations, Action Letzebuergesch and
the Luxembourgish Committee of the European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages,
strive in the case of the former, to promote the use of Luxembourgish in public
life, and, in the case of the latter, to defend and promote the status of regional
and lesser used languages within the European Union.
Although visibly on the decline with young people, Luxembourgish is still
spoken in several areas of Belgium, France and Germany bordering on the Grand-Duchy;
these areas once belonged to the Germanic region of the Duchy of Luxembourg.
all there are estimated to be 90,000 speakers. Two associations, "Areler Land
a Sprooch" and "Wei Laang Nach" strive to revive and promote Luxembourgish in
Belgian Luxembourg and French Lorraine. In the second half of the nineteenth century,
one out of every five Luxembourgers emigrated to the US. It is estimated that
25,000 of their descendants speak or understand Luxembourgish.
considerable number of Luxembourgers do not return to their country after finishing
their studies abroad.
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