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Regional and minority languages in the EU

Regional and minority languages in the EU

Regional and minority languages in the EU

While more than 1 600 ‘native tongues’ are spoken in India hosting 16 % of the world population, an estimated 40 to 50 million people in the EU between them speak 60 regional and minority languages. Central and eastern EU states report a greater number of RMLs, reaching 18 in Romania, 17 in Poland and 16 in Croatia (see Figure 1). In most EU Member States in this area, RMLs are state languages of their neighbours like German in Poland and Czechia, or Hungarian in Slovakia and Romania, while in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Spain and France, non-state RMLs dominate (see Figure 2). The region is also home to some languages with very few speakers scattered among a number of Member States and in third countries, but these languages themselves are not state languages in any of the countries. The population of native speakers of Tatar ranges from 24 000 in Romania, to 5 000 in Poland and Lithuania and just 900 in Finland, while just 200 people in Poland and 3 000 in Lithuania speak Karaim. The EU is also home to Romani and Yiddish, non-territorial languages, which cannot be defined in terms of a particular region of the country but are spoken in various areas of many countries all over the world.

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