Migration, Language Policies, and Language Rights in Luxembourg

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Abstract

This paper deals with the state of language rights in Luxembourg in the light of immigration and the multilingualism associated with it. Although Luxembourg might appear to be an ideal case of multilingualism with three official languages (Luxembourgish, French, and German), the reality is very different because its language policies are marked by a hierarchy: while Luxembourgish has the symbolic dominance as the ‘national language’, French is the preferred language in the workplace and administration. The situation has become complex due to the steady influx of immigrants since the 1970s. Currently, more than 40 per cent of Luxembourg’s population consists of foreigners, and this has changed the linguistic situation in the sense that Portuguese has become one of the most widely spoken languages in Luxembourg, although it does not enjoy any legal safeguards. Taking account of this multilingual scenario, this paper examines the rights of different linguistic communities in Luxembourg. On the one hand, there is the need to protect Luxembourgish, which is the majority language in Luxembourg but a minority language when compared to other national languages of Europe, while, on the other hand, the needs of its Portuguesespeaking community also have to be taken into account since the use of German as the medium of instruction at primary level disadvantages them. Finally, the paper will also consider the role and the future of the other two main languages (French and German).

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