France’s regional languages fight for parity

Breton village

The French language has long been held sacred in France, which has led hard feelings among groups within the country whose first tongue is something other than the lingua franca.

France is home to more than 2 million individuals who speak regional languages such as Alsatian, Breton and Corsican, but the French government has refused to change its constitution, which states that “the language of the Republic is French.”

So while France actually signed the European Charter of Regional and Minority Languages – adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the Council of Europe to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe – the French government has never ratified it.

As a result, the nation’s regional languages have failed to receive support required by the charter.

In fact, the policies of the Paris government have had the deliberate effect of greatly weakening the prevalence of native languages in France that are not “French.”

The second-class status afford languages other than French has not set well in regions where regional tongues are still prevalent, such as Brittany, the Basque country and Corsica.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Rare $4 gold coin could fetch $1.5 million

1880-Coiled-Hair-Stella

American coinage runs the gamut from the half cent to the $50 gold piece, and many all-but-forgotten denominations in between.

Take, for example, the $4 gold piece, minted in 1879 and 1880.

Also known as a Stella, the $4 coin was produced to explore the possibility of the US joining the Latin Monetary Union.

It was meant to contain a quantity of gold similar to that of the standard LMU gold piece, the 20-franc Napoleon minted in France, Switzerland, and other countries that belonged to the Latin Monetary Union.

The Stella was a pattern coin, which means it was proposed and produced in small numbers but never received approval for public circulation.

Even though just a few dozen Stellas are known to exist, four will go up for sale on Sept. 23 in Los Angeles when auction house Bonhams puts the spectacular Tacasyl Collection – 27 American gold coins in all – on the block.

The 1880 Coiled Hair Stella, featuring the image of Liberty with a braided plait on top of her head, could fetch $1.5 million or more.

Continue reading

European prince fights to retain power

Tiny Liechtenstein, the diminutive landlocked alpine nation of 36,000 located between Switzerland and Austria, gets little international attention due to its size, or lack thereof.

However, the principality has been rattled by a war of words between activists who want to revoke the royal veto and the hereditary prince, who has threatened to quit if they do, according to Agence France-Presse.

“Liechtenstein owes its very existence as a principality to its royal family and their princes, who have ruled it as an autonomous monarchy since the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806,” according to the wire service.

But current ruler Prince Alois von und zu Liechtenstein has threatened that his 900-year-old family will drop its royal duties if Liechtenstein passes a referendum eliminating the prince’s veto, a power enshrined in the constitution.

“The royal family is not willing to undertake its political responsibilities unless the prince … has the necessary tools at his disposal,” Alois said in a speech to parliament on March 1.

“But if the people are no longer open to that, then the royal family will not want to undertake its political responsibilities and … will completely withdraw from political life.”

Continue reading