Languages

European Day of Languages

On 26 September, Europe celebrates the diversity of languages

The 26 September, is the European Day of Languages, dedicated to language diversity in Luxembourg. And Luxembourgish, spoken by 323,557 people in the Grand Duchy (2011 general population census), is part of those languages. Let's use the opportunity to shed some light on this language which is the first language of 55.8% of local residents..

A language with multiple influences

Originally, Luxembourgish is considered a Moselle Franconian dialect. It is spoken in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, in Belgium around Arlon and St. Vith and in the French region surrounding Thionville, as well as in the Moselle valley and the Bitburg and Daun districts in Germany. This is representative of the area of the former Duchy of Luxembourg.

Belonging to the western Germanic linguistic group, there are many similarities to German and especially Dutch. However, other languages have equally influenced the development of Luxembourgish during the millennia, often in the context of occupations or waves of immigration. Thus, Latin and later French have left their marks, as well as Spanish and Italian. In other words, Luxembourgish has elements from all of those languages:

Luxembourgish English Origin(s)
Moien / Äddi Hello / Goodbye Morgen (German) / Adieu (French)
Villmools Merci Thank you very much Vielmals (German) / Merci (French)
Wann ech gelift Please Alstublieft (Dutch)
Nondikass! Damned! No digas! (Spanish)

Talk to me in Luxembourgish

For the occasion, the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth launched the action "Schwätz mat mer" (talk to me), encouraging children to explore and use different languages to understand each other better.

A multilingual environment

Speaking about languages in Luxembourg means experiencing the beauty of diversity. Indeed, even though Luxembourgish is considered to be the national language and the language used daily by Luxembourgers, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, English and many more languages have their place in everyday life in Luxembourg. Thus, it is not uncommon to hear a large number of languages spoken around you and the majority of people use at least 2 languages every day. As an example, you might read your newspaper in German in the morning, while ordering a coffee in French, before saying Moien to your Luxembourgish co-worker and calling your client in English.

And, according to the Lifelong Exposure to Multilingualism study, seniors having lived in Luxembourg's linguistic environment for a lengthy time are less at risk to contract Alzheimer's disease.

Luxembourgish has been considered a Moselle dialect for a long time and has nearly exclusively been used as a spoken language. It was not until 1984 that the government of the time gave it an official status, on par with German and French. Since then, many initiatives to promote Luxembourgish have seen the day.

(article written by the editorial team of the portal luxembourg.lu)

  • Updated 29-09-2017