2dn Blog: Reflection on language

Having a look at the languages spoken in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg we can recognize several possible languages that can be used inside the country. This is for sure impacted by the geographical position of the little country between the two major European countries, France and Germany. What is quite interesting to see is that you can recognize the dependence of the distance to the concerned country's border and the language used. This gets very clear when we have a look at the canton of Esch-Sur-Alzette, which has a direct border to France. It is also the region where the main campus of the University of Luxembourg is located. The languages which are mostly used in the streets are Luxembourgish and French as additionally, commuters from France enter every day the region. Having a look at the cantons which are closer to the German border, like Vianden or Echternach, the importance of the German language grows, and it gets more used. Another important point regarding language in Luxembourg is the fact that the country’s the population consists of approximately fifty percent foreigners, who need to be able to speak Luxembourgish to a certain degree at the moment when they want to receive the country’s citizenship.

Regarding my experience  made so far in the country relating to these languages, I can say that I never had problems to speak with people while not being able to express myself in Luxembourgish. Usually, the easiest and safest way to assure that soneone in Luxembourg will understand you is to start a conversation in French, as nearly everybody seems to be able to speak French here. By only speaking English in Luxembourg, I heard from other students who were in this situation, that it can lead sometimes to difficulties in everyday life, as not everybody is able to express himself in English. But as Luxembourg is a western country with a good education system the share of people without sufficient knowledge in English is quite low. Therefore, from my personal perspective, a sufficient knowledge in French and German is enough to survive in everyday life. I have got the impression that the language used in a conversation in Luxembourg is just a secondary aspect. This is for sure mainly influenced by the fact that very many people speak several languages. For this reason, I would say that it was for me surprisingly easy to communicate with people as I expected locals to stick more to Luxembourgish as it is their national language. As I live at the moment close to the university in the canton of Esch-Sur-Alzette and as I am trying to get better in French, I usually use French when speaking to strangers in public. This seems to me also as the best strategy to not have any communication problems with others which would occur for sure if I would only try to speak German during the day. Thinking about the aspects I personally learned most from and which I will be able to use in the future, is maybe to have seen that it is not important which language a person natively speaks. This was especially aparant at the university where many different nationalities are represented. Also, I would say that the experience here has shown me that it is not important to a certain degree if a person speaks a language perfectly or not as language can be seen as a secondary aspect in terms of interaction with people and especially for working in teams and creating valuable output. Concluding this reflection on language in Luxembourg I think that the Luxemburgish multilingualism shows that diversity in language can unify people.

Daniel Vogler