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Monday, 21 November 2011

Burgenland-Croatian Included In Europe's 'Minority' Song Contest

This post is going to have to do for a while for any of those who periodically check in to see whats new.  This month I started a 6 month full-time program at a college and will  be indisposed for this amount of time. (Y'know, projects, studying, assignments, all that.)  As I've mentioned before also, I have some other internet projects that I'm a part of.   However, if I do come across something that ties in perfectly with this particular blog, then I'll  add it here when time allows. In the meantime, feel free to browse a previous post as an interlude and for inspiration until my next addition...

This one was passed onto me this morning.  I thought it may interest people who have an interest in the history of minority languages or of European languages in general.  This post deals with Europe's "minority" languages which also includes Burgenland-Croatian,  spoken by Burgenland-Croats.  It's a variant of Croatian and has a long and interesting history. It is a minority language in  Austria, and is even in use in Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  Some of these minority languages you may have heard of before, some maybe not.  I mentioned previously on the topic of Burgenland-Croatian which you can read at the links below. 

Sami, Frisian and Udmurt – the obscure languages of Europe's 'minority' song contest

The euro may be collapsing while leaders squabble over the direction of the European Union, but in one corner of the Continent all is harmony.

Janna Eijer, the Friesian singer who won the Liet International Song Contest



Roya Nikkhah, Arts Correspondent

The "alternative" Eurovision Song Contest was staged on Saturday night, open only to entries in tongues which few people understand. Funding, of course, came from the public purse.

Although they might not have known it, viewers tuning in to the Liet International Song Contest for minority languages heard lyrics in Sami, Vepsian, Udmurt and Rumantsch.

Now in its eighth year, the annual jamboree is funded by European taxpayers to the tune of £86,000, including £12,000 in the past three years from the Council of Europe which Britain contributes to and is currently chairing.

Organisers claim that the contest "promotes tolerance, multilingualism, friendships and combats risks of ethnic conflicts" – but despite its honourable intentions, the competition has yet to make an impact in the music world.

Last year's winners, Orka, who sing in Faroese, the native language of the Faroe Islands, and use home-made instruments built from agricultural equipment and light fittings, have yet to make it into the charts.

Organisers are realistic about the contest's popular appeal. In 2008 they produced a CD compilation of entries, but admitted that they did not expect to sell more than "perhaps 20".

An estimated six million television viewers across Europe watched the latest contest, staged in Udine, northern Italy, and aired on Italian national television as well as channels in Norway, Spain and Sweden.

Rules of the contest state that entries must be in one of 82 tongues recognised in the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

The charter defines a minority language as one that is traditionally spoken within a European nation but is today used by less than half of its population.

Also among the 12 entries last night were songs in Asturian and Ladin.

The first prize of £1,700 (euros 2,000), as decided by a jury of music experts from the regions represented in the competition, was won by Janna Eijer, from Holland, who sung in Frisian.

The second prize of £850 (euros 1,000) went to Austrian band Coffeeshock Company, singing in Burgenland-Croatian, who won a "public vote", decided by the studio audience, online and television viewers.

Onno Falkena, the competition's international coordinator from the Netherlands, said: "We want to give artists who sing in minority languages an international stage and help them reach out to larger audiences.

"There is so much new, contemporary music being created in minority languages and the contest gives performers the platform to reach out to the outside world."

The EU has championed Liet International through the European Commission's Network to Promote Linguistic Diversity (NPLD) initiative, which held a conference alongside last year's song contest in the French city of Lorient.

While the competition has a mission statement of promoting "tolerance" and "friendships", some of the lyrics to songs that featured in the final seemed on closer inspection to be fiercely political.

An entry from the Basque region of Spain, by the band Siroko and titled Hi Vascofona (You! Basque-speaker), included the lyrics: "They want to empty our veins of 'the self', Basque language and blood/ If so, do you know what would flavour your tongue? / The same odour left by the dead."

The finalists:

1. Skama la Rede (Spain), singing Condenau (Letter Song) in Asturian – national language of the Principality of Asturias, northern Spain, around 450,000 native speakers

2. Noid (Russia) singing Kättepajo (Lullaby) in Vepsian – dialect related to Finnish, mainly spoken in the northwest Russia. Fewer than 10,000 people are believed to speak it.

3. Rolffa (Norway) singing Gulatgo mu? (Can you hear me?) in Sami – several Sami dialects exist, spoken by the Sami people, approximately 135,000 indigenous people across northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia

4. Macanta (Scotland) singing Gaol (Love) in Gaelic – Scottish language spoken by around 58,000 people, 1.2 per cent of the Scottish population, mainly in the Outer Hebrides

5. The Silent Woo Gore (Russia) singing Emeze (We will sing now) in Udmurt – native language of the Udmurt people from Russian republic of Udmurtia, in eastern Russia. Around 480,000 native speakers

6. Siroka (Spain), singing Hi Vascofana (You! Basque-speaker!) in Basque – ancestral language of the Basque Country in northeastern Spain, with around 665,000 native speakers

7. Janna Eijer (Netherlands) singing Ien Klap (One Second) in Frisian – a Germanic dialect spoken in Fresia, on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands and Germany, with an estimated 500,000 speakers.

8. Aiofe Scott (Republic of Ireland) singing Donal Ná Fág (Donal Don't Leave) in Irish Gaelic – national language of the Republic of Ireland with around 500,000 speakers, but also a "minority" language because it is less widely spoken than English

9. Rezia Ladina (Switzerland) singing Id es capital (It happened) in Rumantsch – one of Switzerland's four national languages, spoken by around 35,000 people – 0.9 per cent of the Swiss population

10. Cuntra Löm (Italy) singing La moncignosa (The pasqueflower) in Ladin – closely related to Swiss Rumantsch and Friûl (see below), Ladin is spoken in northern Italy in the border regions of Trentino, South Tirol and Belluno. Around 30,000 native speakers.

11. Priska (Italy) singing Hajra (Hajra is a girl's name) in Friûl – closely related to Ladin, Friûl is spoken in the Friûli region of northeastern Italy by around 800,00 people

12. Coffeeshock Company (Austria) singing Gusla mi se je znicila (My Violin) in Burgenland-Croatian – Croatian dialect spoken by around 20,000 people in the Austrian state of Burgenland; also spoken in parts of Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

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