Did you know that Picasso did not grow up speaking Spanish, that Richard Burton did not grow up speaking English and that Napoleon did not grow up speaking French? Nor did Dutch diva Mata Hari grow up speaking Dutch? Picasso’s first language was Catalan, Richard Burton grew up in a Welsh-speaking home, Napoleon’s mother tongue was Corsican, and Mata Hari’s was Frisian—just four of Europe’s many so-called minority languages. Often dismissed as dialects or suppressed for political reasons in the past, minority languages today are protected and respected in the European Union. And, as the current tensions in Catalonia in Spain illustrate, the mother tongue can be as emotional and precious as home itself.
Producer: Marijke van der Meer
Broadcast: November 6, 1991