Ist­ván Lan­sty­ák: The Euro­pe­an Union’s Lan­gu­a­ge Poli­cy and Lan­gu­a­ges Spo­ken in Slo­va­kia

If we would want to define dramatically, we should begin our sum­ma­ry of dra­wing a les­son from the point of view of the whole EU with the sta­te­ment that in the EU besi­de Eng­lish and French no lan­gu­a­ge can feel safe in a long term. Although, in a shor­ter term, those lan­gu­a­ges that are offi­ci­al or regi­o­nal­ly offi­ci­al lan­gu­a­ges of the mem­ber states, are not in direct danger. Although, if we do not want them to be in dan­ge­rous situation, we have to (should) act now.

From the point of view of the Euro­pe­an Union the ma­in ques­ti­on is how a multi-lingual – simi­lar to a state union, but basi­cal­ly new type – struc­tu­re can fun­cti­on effec­ti­ve­ly con­si­de­ring equality/democracy on the one hand and reasonability/economy on the other hand. From the point of view of the lan­gu­a­ges spo­ken in the Union, the ques­ti­on aris­es mo­re sharp­ly and it is even mo­re dif­fi­cult to answer it: how can the lag­ging behind of mino­ri­ty lan­gu­a­ges be stopped, how can their possib­le strengthening, sta­bi­li­sa­ti­on be achi­e­ved in such a way that it would enab­le suc­cess of the speakers, since the disad­van­ta­ges of lan­gu­a­ges spo­ken by small-number com­mu­ni­ti­es in cer­ta­in con­di­ti­ons can put into disad­van­ta­ge­ous situ­a­ti­on mot­her lan­gu­a­ge spe­a­kers towards other mot­her lan­gu­a­ge speakers.

Con­si­de­ring Slo­va­kia’s languages, we can sum­ma­ri­ze the following: Although Hungarian, Czech, and Polish lan­gu­a­ges have beco­me offi­ci­al lan­gu­a­ges of the EU, (while Ger­man was from the beginning), in Slo­va­kia these lan­gu­a­ges were and rema­i­ned mino­ri­ty languages. It is ques­ti­o­nab­le that if the offi­ci­al lan­gu­a­ge sta­tus would be able, even if in a small extent – com­pen­sa­te the fac­tors aiming lan­gu­a­ge exchange. It does not seem to be probable, since the rights aris­ing from the offi­ci­al lan­gu­a­ge sta­tus can be appli­ca­ble only on EU level, and the most citi­zens will not pro­bab­ly get into ver­bal con­tact with EU offices, the­re­fo­re this fac­tor does not influ­en­ce their lives. Besi­de the offi­ci­al lan­gu­a­ge sta­tus ope­ning of the bor­ders – at least for the mino­ri­ty living by it – is a much mo­re impor­tant fact.

Con­si­de­ring other mino­ri­ty lan­gu­a­ges spo­ken in Slovakia, they can­not anti­ci­pa­te con­si­de­rab­le impro­ve­ment of their chan­ces to sur­vi­ve in the future. At the same time, at the entry to the EU pro­fes­si­o­nals repre­sen­ting peop­le living in the ente­ring coun­tri­es and spe­a­king mino­ri­ty languages, can have now oppor­tu­ni­ti­es cre­a­ted by the pro­cess of the entry, for exam­ple par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in lan­gu­a­ge prog­ra­ms or in the work of such insti­tu­ti­ons like the Euro­pe­an Offi­ce of Less Used Languages. They them­sel­ves can­not bring break-through in the situ­a­ti­on of less-used languages, but toget­her with other fac­tors they can help these lan­gu­a­ges to be less hope­less in the future.