A review of my presentation from the final crit on friday.
I didn’t want to go through the explanations of the messy reigning history again as most of the other students were present during the interim crit presentation as well and so aware of it, instead I only repeated it again. As decided after the interim crit, I focussed on the Luxembourgish (or Luxemburgish) language to represent the grand duchy with the unstable history and influences from different cultures and reigning periods as well as i- and emigrating residents that are still going on. As argumented during the final year digital meeting discussion on wednesday, I tried to figure out what Luxembourgish means to me. (it also was the place where I concluded that home was speaking Luxembourgish in some way) As Luxembourgish is my first language, it is very important to myself as it still is the language that I am most at ease at (that is, if I don’t stop speaking it).
Even though Luxembourgish is not taught as much at school as other languages, our first few years of education being in German and French being added as third language during the third year of primary school and courses being held in German until the Lycée (probably high school-ish in international terms) when some courses are then held in French (such as maths) and English is added as fourth language (or Latin, and other languages as choice) until as good as every course is held in French. In Luxembourg, there is only one hour per week of Luxembourgish learning during primary school consisting mainly in grammar and Luxembourgish literature, while Luxembourgish is only taught in the first year of high school. This makes learning and speaking Luxembourgish for non-native students coming out of immigrant families where Luxembourgish is not spoken at home a very exhausting task, resulting either in exclusion of the different languages into separate groups, or, as discussed with my flatmate who speaks French at home and only learnt Luxembourgish in primary school through having Luxembourgish friends, through motivation of integration into the class by learning by doing (in this case learning the language by speaking Luxembourgish). The Luxembourgish language depends very much on the investment of the foreign immigrants or workers and their wish to be included into Luxembourgish-speaking society. The importance of speaking Luxembourgish outside of Luxembourg is already very low, but even inside of the country, it is not necessarily necessary to be able to speak Luxembourgish, French being most probably the common language between Luxembourgers, foreign commuters (mostly from France or Belgium, or German for the German commuters) and visitors from close countries, or German, depending towards which boundaries the region leads, while English is also well represented in highly tourist areas in the centre of Luxembourg.
As before the 1850s, Luxembourg is still very much a spoken language, even though it has an official national language status since 1984 and an official grammar reform since 1999.
The residents from Luxembourg being that much used to speaking at least two different languages in the same day and having more than one language in their communication set makes adaption to a different language a lot easier if speaking to someone who only has little knowledge in say Luxembourgish (or German or French), which is why the spoken language is mostly the one the foreign visitor or resident is most comfortable at speaking as Luxembourgish people try to accommodate and be welcoming/helping. This does however not help the foreigner to learn the Luxembourgish language. It is more likely to give the impression of learning Luxembourgish as being unnecessary because it is so little used.
At the moment, French is the first written official language, which is especially visible on street signs (where the Luxembourgish name of the town is written in italics underneath the French name. A lot of street advertisement is done in French or German, and newspapers are mainly in German with a few French articles depending on the authors of the article, and some Luxembourgish articles (as for example the Luxemburger Wort, which is called d’Wort by locals), while there are also all-French alternatives of the different newspapers (as in La Voix as a French version of the d’Wort). However English versions of the websites are very common. There is also for example den Feierkrop which is also in Luxembourgish but with German and French articles, a satirical newspaper.
What I have tried to work on so far is the overlapping of the different languages that create the Luxembourgish language, and carry its history within. Through separating the same words in the different languages, there are visible overlapping constructions and variations, which I tried to accentuate.
The isolation of the separate letters for the different words show the variations and similarities between the languages. Re-assembling the letters and overlayering the same word in the different languages at the same time create different layers and forms. The colours allow for a separation of the origins, Blue as Prussian, Red as French and white as Luxembourgish (with the colours of the Luxembourgish flag). Together they create either a black where the letters are similar and make the word readable or they create abstract shapes where the word constructions differ. The layering of the different colours creates a shade close to black.
I then also tried a variation of different fonts as well as upper and lower case writing with cut-outs instead of layering, with words that could be useful for everyday life such as hello, good morning, etc.
However it was soon clear that the font should be lowercase and sans serif for easy and friendly reading. I attempted to isolate the Luxembourgish part of the word (in yellow, as white is not very practical in this case) which either shadows or enlightens the word in the other language in my experimentations, showing how close the words are to German and French.
But other than just the words, this could be an attempt to distribute and make the language more present in everyday life, show the history of the country and make foreigners curious about the language and where it comes from.
It could be used as posters and installations in the city, live installations on billboards showing the ‘word of the day’, in an app and through other supports.