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Dr. Ádám Kósa addresses the EU Parliament

This morning at 09:39:44 (GMT +2) was a historic moment, Dr. Ádám Kósa addressed the EU Parliament in sign language. Here's some footage, which I uploaded to Vimeo to make viewing easier (2 minutes and 37 seconds):

You have to love the smirk on Ádám's face at the end - fabulous!

You can also find the videos on the EU Parliament website, Windows Media Player and Quicktime. The text has not been published by the EU Paliament yet.

However, this is what the EU parliament press release had to say:

For the EPP, newly-elected MEP Ádám KÓSA (HU) said he was deeply moved that as the assembly's first deaf member, he was able to use sign language. Belonging to the EU means that minority language users and people with disabilities can nonetheless achieve results, he said. Only two weeks previously, the Slovak Parliament had passed laws restricting the use of minority languages, he added, urging Europe to guarantee full rights and opportunities for minorities and people with disabilities.

As a bonus, here's a previous video of Adam (in spoken Hungarian plus some Hungarian Sign Language):

Elsewhere:
MEP Profile: Ádám KÓSA
EU Parliament Press Release
German MEP slams Slovak language law
EP member says Slovakia’s new Language Act is discriminatory

See also:
Dr. Adam Kosa: First Deaf Member of the European Parliament (MEP)
European Parliament Elections: Dr. Adam Kosa

Comments (16)

The only problem is, that the information about restrictive Slovakia law is not correct at all. There is nothing like restriction what he describes. I have read the law and the use of minority languages is not touched at all. Hungarians are professionals in spreading of this kind of alarming news. But who will stand up to say the truth? This guy is very kind and I am admiring his achievements, but he is laying on the Slovakian law issue...

@Daniel - what does the law actually say? There's a couple of links in the post from a German MEP raising the issue.

However, I know nothing about this and I would apprciate more informatiojn. I'm more concerned how this impacts sign language in Slovakia, if it does at all. Could you tell us us more?

the law basically tell you have to use slovak language for official documents, street names e.g. except the cases described in Minority language law from year 1999 (created by local Minority political party) and except foreign country citizens

Okay, what about Deaf people who use sign language - to access official documents? Must they use Slovak spoken language too?

Hi, I would believe in Adam´s good instinct. He is Hungarian (He knows about Slovak´s tendention to ignore other minorities...) and also - he is a lawyer, so - he can detect the "danger" in laws more quickly than other non-profesionals.

Whatever, this does alarm me. I live in Wales, which is a bilingual country - English and Welsh are treated equally for the purposes of public services. If Wales passed a law where Welsh road signs were scrapped and public documents were only in English - then I would be alarmed. Such changes does amount to linguistic genocide.

However, I still wanted to ask the commenters above how this might impact Deaf people living in the country?

@Alison:

AFAIK, Slovakia is not a part of Hungary in contrast to Wales - UK thing.

Sure. However, Wales hasn't always been part of the UK, England took over like everywhere else. The language got oppressed through various means.

Is it not the case that any sign language using Deaf person will take an interest in minority languages? There's a common denominator for languages, and links people worldwide. Thus I see Ádám's interest in this issue, from this angle (perhaps I'm being naive). Ádám is using a minority language to make this speech, a language that has never been used in the EU Parliament before.

Slovakia as a country - doesn't mean anything to me, but any linguistic curbing disturbs me. :-/

Can someone please explain to me why the Slovak Republic wants to only use one language for state affairs? What's the deal? Is this a political move towards independence?

A quick search points me to Hungarians in Slovakia. E.g. a German MEP spoke out on the same issue, it didn't stir the same feeling?

The questions are out of genuine interest, as I would like to understand this a better.

I really felicitate on such a "perfect" neighbour as hungary to all of you who believe in this half-trues of mr. Kosa (btw slovak name and means - scythe) . All slavonians country (ukraine, croatia, serbia, slovakia) and also romania has problems with expanding policy of our "dear" neighbour. Hungary feels superior to slavonian countries and still dreams about big hungary. In addition they call Slovakia - upper hungary, is that ok? In vain, they are very different mentally, moreover they are not discreet. Hungarian politics are crazy, believe me. Weakness of our diplomacy is that we elected to europarliament politics who arent able to react to this half-trues.

Okay, I think I got the Slovak Republic might not like Hungary, can someone please point me to an English language book or something online that explains the history between the two countries in detail. Am just interested.

Again I would like to ask the question, is curbing minority languages a statement of independence?

Country politics aside, can someone please let me know how this is going to impact INDIVIDUAL people inside the country. What happens if you use a different language to what the state is using? I am obviously more concerned about Deaf people who use sign language here, although any minority language interests me. It is said that govt materials are no longer going to be available in other languages. What happens if you're a minority language user, and can no longer understand Slovakian? :-/

To any random person coming to this post: this was posted because Ádám is Deaf and a sign language user. Ádám does have a history of being involved with the minority language movement across Europe, which is where I thought (and perhaps still think) he's coming from. Deaf people tend to be world citizens, much more than hearing people are - its just the way our community operates.

As Deaf American, I'm thrilled and fascinated with Dr. Adam Kosa's efforts with EU Parliament. Many Deaf Americans salute Dr. Adam Kosa! What a great role model!

Not only that, I want to echo what Alison said:

Deaf people tend to be world citizens, much more than hearing people are - its just the way our community operates.

Amen, Alison! You got it right!

R-

Language law in Slovakia criminalizes the use of certain minority languages, mainly Hungarian (Czechs are exempt from law). Hope of Slovak nationalists is to slowly eradicate the local Hungarian comunity through applying assimilation techniques and other forms of intimidation, in order to make people afraid to use their mother tongue. Living in Canada, I know If English would ever atempt such a move against the French, they would hold referendum on separation in no time. There must be a lot of narrow minded Slovaks on this earth to be so preocupied with opressing another ethnic group.

The man lies... the law dows not restrict using of minority languages... the law calls for using the state language where it is necessary... I would be happy if other nations who know little about this problem just imagine that they do not understand public notes and writings because they are written in other than state language.. do this happen somewhere else than in Slovakia? Are French or English or German people forced to learn the languages of minorities in their own country?

@Jan - in Wales, Welsh and English language is compulsory in education. Schools also teach French, and perhaps another language (I'm not sure what it is in England).

I think happen to think learning other languages is a good thing, it broadens your mind. I say that being able to use (to varying degrees) four languages.

Note with interest this debate What bugs me is understanding what was said. Voice over great for hearies. I did ont get to understand what the speaker said so can anyone help there if this is of important to know what he said after his maiden speech. To be honest I couldnt understand what he had said so again deafie need access - some of you may appreciate his signing some dont and want to know and support best for now

It's great seeing sign language being accepted even more.

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