Language Festival 2010 in the North Friesland County

Languages are culture and identity – High German, Low German, Frisian, Danish, South-Jutlandic

Performing in Low German – “Emil from Lönneberg” by Astrid Lindgren

Associations of Frisian groups presented their various folk outfits from different islands.

ECMI Deputy Director Ewa Chylinski and Senior Research Associate Alexander Osipov visited the Language Festival in Bredstedt/Bräist on 12 September. The occasion was the 40th anniversary of establishing the North Friesland County, featuring its autochthonous multilingual and multicultural composition of population groups and their five languages, traditionally spoken in the area: German, Low German, Frisian, Danish and South Jutlandic (sønderjysk).

Organised by 16 different associations of the Frisian, Danish and Low German groups, the festival signaled not only maintenance of traditional cultures, such as dance, songs and cookery but also the active use of the languages in social work and related institutions, in schools, in publications and other aspects of life in the public sphere. Recognised by the German state through the ratification of the Council of Europe’s European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the Frisian, the Danish and the Low German are protected and promoted as minority and regional languages (see also at the internet site of the German Federal Ministry of the Interior).

All three language communities are strongly engaged in developing strategies for the future of their respective languages by working together (ECMI is hosting a number of Council of Europe Language Guides for individual regional or minority languages at).

The local authorities of the county offered sightseeing in the administration building and shared their handling of the languages and cultural diversity in cooperation with local municipalities. One of such initiatives is compilation of local histories of the municipalities by the interested residents.

The County North Friesland was created in 1970 to consolidate all parts of North Friesland with exclusion of the island of Helgoland into one county with predominant aspect of the North Frisian group. Low German, i.e. Plattdeutsch, is the official language of the county. In the capital of the county – Husum, a minority film festival is taking place on biennial basis.


Place and Date: Bredsted, 12 September 2010
Further information: Ewa Chylinski, Chylinski@ecmi.de

ECMI founders:

The German Federal GovernmentThe German
Federal Government
The Danish GovernmentThe Danish
The Federal State Schleswig-HolsteinThe Federal State