Minoritized languages and access to justice in France: a case study of Breton and Western Armenian speakers

Croad, Grace Hannah (2023). Minoritized languages and access to justice in France: a case study of Breton and Western Armenian speakers. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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This thesis examines access to justice in France for minority language speakers, a country which has long opposed the recognition of minoritized and endangered languages. In the first instance, this thesis investigates how a minoritized language is defined in the French context. Once defined, I ask how are minority language speakers able to access judicial systems, and how the French State interacts with the language and minority rights agreements to which it has signed up.

Drawing on linguistic justice, I argue that that rather than perceive minoritized languages as autonomous entities that are entitled to rights, the rights of minoritized people to have access to justice on their own terms and on the basis of their own language practices should be
prioritised. However, this thesis demonstrates that minority language practice is limited in public settings by the French State. Enshrined by key French Republican models and legislation such as the Constitution and the Toubon Act, French is protected as the majority and national
language by state bodies such as the Académie Française and the Délégation générale à la langue française.

In investigating the judicial setting as an example of a French State public setting and taking as case studies speakers of Breton and Western Armenian as examples of regional and immigrant minority languages respectively, I test the applicability of language and minority rights presented in the UDHR and ECRML on these groups.

However, the French State is noncompliant in adopting and implementing the minority and language related rights of the agreements that it has signed, citing that pro-minority and linguistically diverse language policy is incompatible with the values of the State. Therefore,
this thesis asserts that as a result of the noncompliance by the French State to adopt the ECRML and to implement the minority and linguistic rights in the UDHR, minority language speakers in France are not able to have access to justice on their own terms and on the basis of their own
language practices.

The case studies in this thesis consist of documented interactions between minority language speakers and French judicial institutions, government publications, and scholarship reflecting the reality of Breton and Western Armenian speaking communities in France as languages listed by UNESCO as endangered languages. Situating these case studies within the wider discussion about minoritized and endangered languages, Romaine (2007) asserts that globally, minority language communities face erasure. In response to this global decline of minority language practice, linguistic justice scholarship presents interventionalist measures, such as language
documentation and rights, as a means to protect minority languages from erasure.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of Languages, Cultures, Art History and Music, Department of Modern Languages
Funders: Other
Other Funders: Woltmann Research Masters Scholarship
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/13432


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