Can literature save minority languages?

Published 18th April 2013
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The Guardian newspaper reported a story earlier this week about one publisher’s fight for Amazon to offer one of their Cornish language books for the Kindle. Previously, the Kindle only offered books in ten languages: English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, Galician and Basque, however Diglot books, the publisher of the Cornish language book, won its fight against Amazon for the title to be available for the Kindle.

The book, named Matthew and The Wellington Boots, or Matthew ha’n Eskisyow Glaw in Cornish, was initially rejected by Amazon, for the reason that the Cornish language wasn’t currently supported by the Kindle. The publishers fought back explaining that the Cornish language uses the same alphabet as English, meaning that the text wouldn’t be a problem. They also set up a social media campaign, the support from which convinced Amazon to publish the book!

So, will the publishing of bilingual minority language books be enough to keep them alive?

Story books are a great way of capturing children’s attention and sparking interest in subjects which they may find boring in everyday life. Many younger generations aren’t interested in learning minority languages, even if they are local to the areas the languages come from. However, putting foreign languages into interesting stories will introduce children to languages in a way which is more fun and has less of an educational feel.

Even for people who have slightly stronger foreign language skills and an interest in reading literature in other languages, bilingual books would be a great intermediary phase before attempting foreign literature.

Independent publisher, Francis Boutle, is determined to protect Europe’s minority languages through literature and is on a mission to publish books in a range of languages.

We think this sounds like a great idea to promote revive minority languages! Let us know what you think using the comments box below.

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