Protección y uso de las lenguas minoritarias en la República Popular China y en la Unión Europea desde la perspectiva antropológico-lingüísticalos casos del mongol, tibetano, uigur, zhuang y leonés

  1. José Carlos Redondo Martínez
Supervised by:
  1. Óscar Fernández Álvarez Director
  2. Chen Chen Director

Defence university: Universidad de León

Fecha de defensa: 21 October 2022

  1. Eloy Gómez Pellón Chair
  2. Miguel González González Secretary
  3. Qiuyang Li Committee member

Type: Thesis


Minority languages, as vehicles of communication and repositories of the culture of a people that they are, are a treasure that we all, regardless of the position we occupy, must preserve for the sake of the cultural and linguistic heritage of humanity. According to UNESCO, there are more than 6000 languages in the world ranging from international languages that have millions of speakers and are geographically distributed over several continents to regional or local languages that have many fewer speakers and whose health status is not so buoyant. The People’s Republic of China is a very large country where, apart from Mandarin Chinese, there are more than 150 minority languages that share the linguistic sphere of the more than 1400 million inhabitants. The Chinese Constitution guarantees the right of minority ethnolinguistic groups to use and develop their languages. Of these minority languages, in this research, we will analyse perhaps the four most famous languages that are represented on the banknotes of the national currency: Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur and Zhuang. These four minority languages have millions of speakers but the circumstances of promotion of Putonghua (standard spoken of Mandarin Chinese) are causing them to lose weight in many strata of social and academic life. The future of these languages is linked to specific language policies that can maintain a balance between the promotion of the national standard language and its own promotion and use. These languages are studied and used in teaching in the regions and prefectures where they are spoken, usually in the western half of the country. However, the growing development of the economy in the provinces and large cities of the east of the country has caused many workers who speak these languages to move to territories where the dominant language is Putonghua, thus losing contact with their language and traditions and not having the possibility of continuing to use these languages. In addition, in some of these languages there is a feeling of diglossia in which the younger generations bet on Putonghua as a language of the future and show no interest in their minority league by cutting off their intergenerational linguistic transmission that is crucial for the development of the vitality of a language. A balanced balance between the promotion of Putonghua and the maintenance and use of minority languages would bring social harmony in which both the Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur and Zhuang languages and Putonghua coexist and coexist peacefully and in which the speakers of both languages know how to see the cultural beauty of learning new languages and, above all, the contribution it makes to the idiosyncrasies of the Chinese nation. The European Union is also a vast territory where there are almost thirty official languages and numerous regional and minority languages. The Leonese language is one of them. In Europe, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages is the official document designed to protect and promote regional historical languages and minority languages. Its application falls on the different national governments and their constitutions the protection and regulated use of minority languages. Spain is a member state of the EU that has ratified the Charter and, in its constitution, also says that, apart from Spanish, the other Spanish languages will be official in the respective autonomous communities in accordance with their Statutes and that the different linguistic modalities of Spain will be subject to respect and protection. In addition, in the Statute of the autonomous community of Castile and León recognizes the value of the Leonese language and orders the public authorities its specific protection and urges to regulate its use and promotion. However, the reality is very different since it is not protected or established in the school world and languishes with an often cut off intergenerational transmission and remaining as a linguistic heritage of the oldest population stratum in various areas fundamentally rural and generally located in the west of the Leonese Region. The contrast of the situations of the use and development of minority languages in China with the use and development of Leonese in Spain shows us how, with correct language policies, a minority language can be protected and revitalized without, for that reason, calling into question the health of the national or dominant language. There have been many factors that have hindered the development of minority languages for decades: the development of a nearby dominant language, the ease with which one gains access to a job with the dominant language, diglossia, the social perception of minority languages by the speakers themselves and by society in general in the territories or the lack of institutional support. The five minority languages analyzed (Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, Zhuang and Leonese) have their own factors that have influenced them over time and that have marked the future of their use and development, but in many of them there are similarities that one you would not expect to find in such linguistically and geographically distant languages. The most hurt of these five minority languages is Leonese, which is in a situation of danger, but through this research we contrast the situation of revitalization, use and development of Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Zhuang in China and, apart from pointing out the points weak in the use and development of these languages, we extract the strong points and the efficient measures that could benefit the Leonese from 10000km away. All minority languages are the linguistic vessel where the cultural value and the ways of looking at the world of a specific people are deposited. We must put aside the capitalist thought that rejects minority languages for not having economic benefit and value them for the cultural contribution they bring to the territory where they are spoken and, above all, we must bear in mind that letting a language die is to let die an enormous cultural legacy that would not only impoverish the territory where it is spoken but also the world. Also, we must value languages for what they are: elements of communication that transmit the culture of a people. They must never be used as political weapons. A synergy between state and regional governments and linguistic groups of speakers would improve the state of health of minority languages and prevent their decline and possible definitive loss. If we let a minority language die, the planet would lose a very valuable jewel of its great multilingual crown.