5th November: International Day of Romani Language
Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) calls for more action to protect and promote the Romani language
Statement adopted by the Committee of Experts of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML) on 5 November 2015 on the occasion of the International Romani Language Day
Out of the 25 countries that have ratified the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML), 15 have officially recognised Romani as a minority language traditionally present on their territory. This is the highest number of ratifications for a single language under the Charter and it reflects, among others, the status of Romani as a European language.
From the two options of ratification, general protection under Part II of the Charter or the definition of special provisions in support of a language under Part III, the majority, two-thirds of the countries, opted for general protection that automatically applies to all languages traditionally spoken on the territory of a state.
The high level of ratifications for Romani – mostly based on an equality principle between all minority languages of the country in question – often lack implementation. This imbalance in the level of ratification as well as the deficits in implementation indicate, at least to some extent, the reality of marginalisation of both Romani and its speakers. On the other hand, shortcomings also result from the fact that the historical situation of Romani is not sufficiently taken into consideration. Romani is a language in transition. It is still developing from an exclusively oral language of private and everyday life to an oral and written language with both informal and formal public functions.
Not only because of the number of ratifications, but also because of its special situation, Romani is given high priority in the context of the Charter. To contribute to the sociocultural development of Romani is one of the main concerns of the ECRML Committee of Experts – a contribution that also intends to support the socio-economic and political emancipation of the Roma in general. Therefore, the Committee of Experts invites states on whose territory Romani is traditionally spoken to include this language in their ratification instruments.
Romani is in most countries in a vulnerable position and consequently, special measures are needed from the authorities to support the language. The Committee of Experts calls upon all member states to strengthen the protection and promotion of Romani as a part of the European cultural heritage in all spheres, and particularly in education and cultural life.