Around Europe in 80 languages

24. Mai 2011 § Hinterlasse einen Kommentar

The idea

It’s been an ambition and desire of mine for a while to travel in slowish motion, under my own steam, along and across language borders, through multi- and bilingual terrains and to see with my own eyes how people, languages and landscapes intertwine.

The plan is to follow interesting pathways and to cover as many ‘language regions’ as possible. I know full well that such terms as language regions, language and dialects, living, dying or dead languages are often illusionary. I’m aware that it’s people who make and break languages, and I aim to get talking to as many as I’m likely to enjoy.

The journey

This is a long-term project. If we count generously, there are about 80 languages spoken in Europe, not considering the linguistically super-rich Caucasus nor immigrants’ languages.  Start with Albanian, go through Friulian and Luxembourgian (Letzeburgisch) and end up with Welsh or even Yiddish. It would take a couple of summers to traverse all these language regions.

The first leg is planned for the summer of 2011. I’ll start from my door step near Zurich and head southeast, across the Alps, through a corner of Italy and on lengthwise through the Balkans, hopefully ending up on the Black Sea. And as a kind of afterthought I’ll try to make it to Gagausia. Where, believe it or not, Gagausian is spoken. Only one person I told about my plans had heard of this place or this language, my dear friend Monica from Toronto. I’ll keep everyone posted with this blog.

Oh yes, I forgot to say. I’ll travel by bike. No trains or buses or taxis allowed. Boats, ferries and such like are okay.



The traveller

I’m in my 50s, looking back on a checkered professional life and a happy family life. I’m facing a leave of absence and was wondering what to do to release some of the pressure and demands of a job which my daughter (freely translated) called a teacher’s teacher.

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