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Do You Speak Corona? A Ladin advice from South Tyrol: when in doubt, emoticons always work

The following article was provided by Mr Iaco Rigo from the organization Union Generala di Ladins dla Dolomites, Italy.

The Province of South Tyrol – where the two valleys (Gherdeina/Gröden and Gadertal/Val Badia – out of a total of five valleys in the Dolomite area) in which the Ladin pupulation is the most consistent – and the Ladin Provincial Councilor Daniel Alfreider have committed themselves even in these difficult times (which have lasted in Italy and South Tyrol since mid-March 2020), through the institution of the Ladin Cultural Department "Repartiziun Ladina" and their work, to ensure that the most important and relevant information on health precautions and the economic and cultural lockdown is also communicated in Ladin.

Not so eager were the Ladin municipalities (all over Ladinia), which did not all provide sufficient information for the people and if they did, then only in sparse cases in Ladin, which is actually the most spoken language of the citizens in these areas (regardless of the fact whether the law on the use of the language is officially valid in the respective provinces or not). Rarely, or rather "not at all", the Sanitary Service in South Tyrol has provided information in Ladin, not even in those municipalities where it is required by law.

A lot of information was provided in Ladin by the editorial staff of the newspaper "La Usc di Ladins" www.lausc.it. The editorial office has made it its daily task to translate and publish posters and information signs in Ladin – and this in most Ladin idioms and also in the standard language. In social media the information signs could (and still can) be downloaded free of charge.

And how are basic information about Corona for the citizens in the public cultural Ladin regional institutions in the Ladin valleys provided, for example in the "Istituc culturai ladins" (cultural institutes)? The "Istituc ladins" are the voice par excellence for the public administration and the employees of the region Trentino-Alto Adige, and the base for questions and discussions about Ladin. While the Ladin citizen e.g. in the Istituto Ladin and Museo Ladin in Fascia (Val di Fassa / Trentino) receives the prescribed basic information in his/her mother tongue – as it is required by law and common sense – the citizen in San Martin de Tor / St.Martin in Thurn and in Sëlva / Selva Gardena at the entrance to the Istituto Ladin (Lad. Cultural Institute) waits in vain to be informed in his/her mother tongue. This would actually be prescribed by the DPR (Decree of the President of the Republic of Italy) of 15 July 1988, n. 574.

On this occasion of the corona lockdown and a critical observation regarding the languages used for basic information in the multilingual realities, an important question must be raised: To what extent, in crisis situations in general, are the small languages disadvantaged/ discriminated? Could it be that these exceptional situations are somehow used to officially justify and even are misused to deal sloppily with the small languages? The answers would have to be provided by those responsible for the individual institutions!

During April 2020 FUEN has conducted a survey entitled Do You Speak Corona? on the situation of European minorities during the pandemic. The online questionnaire focused on the availability of information related to COVID-19 in general, healthcare information related to the outbreak, the existence of an emergency hotline operated in minority language and the availability of online education in minority language. The short report on the results is here and you can download the whole report in PDF format by clicking here.

This series of case studies is the continuation of the Do You Speak Corona? project.

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