Nirvana Bhatia


“A nation without a language is a nation without a soul,” declares a Gaelic proverb. Indubitably, language is a product of national identity; it preserves heritage, reflects societal beliefs and values, and expresses a cultural spirit. The current international human rights regime, however, does not recognize an individual’s right to language choice; instead, it promises freedom from linguistic discrimination. The implications are not quite the same and, as a result, states have successfully repressed minority populations by controlling their language options. The European Union in particular—with its panoply of languages—demonstrates an inconsistent approach toward linguistic minorities; it attempts to promote language diversity at an institutional level, but refuses to influence a Member State’s domestic language policy.

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