‘We don’t talk Gypsy here’: Minority language policies in Europe

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The Roma constitute an ideal case of educational injustice meeting linguistic difference, racism, social marginalization, and poverty. This paper asks whether human-rights or capabilities approaches are best suited to address issues related to the language education of Roma students in Europe. These children are disadvantaged by not growing up with the standard dialect of whatever language is preferred by the mainstream population, and by the low status of the Romani language, and non-standard dialect of the standard language they usually speak. We examine language education for Roma students in Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Bulgaria, describing similarities and differences across contexts. We explain weak and strong version of language rights arguments, and the ways these principles are expressed, and not expressed in education policies. Sen’s capabilities approach can be employed to generate contextualized visions of education reform that speak directly to disadvantages suffered by Roma children.

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