Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Petition surpasses milestone of 5000 signatures

Click here to sign the petition

Eleven days after the launch of the petition, we have surpassed the milestone of 5000 signatures, the current total is 5161. People from all of Europe have continued to show their support, with Hungarian novelists Péter Esterházy and György Konrád among those who have signed in the past few days. We also received signatures from as far afield as the Netherlands Antilles, Canada, India, Michigan, Japan, the Shetland islands and Melbourne. 

In their comments people mention the importance of Hungarian, Finnish, Danish or Norwegian to them personally, for European unity or for economic and cultural relations between the Netherlands and the countries concerned. Here are some of those comments.

 Mr. Jozsef Habenicht, The Hague, The Netherlands

Prof. Markus Krach, Bielefield, Germany

Mr. Finn Zetterholm, Älta, Sweden

Ms. Helena Gronroos, Zoetermeer, The Netherlands.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

We are approaching 4500 signatures!

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You can share your thoughts in a comment at the bottom of this update.

11 December & 12 December
More than 4000 signatures have been collected in six days. People from all over the world have signed the petition and written very encouraging comments to support this campaign. Groningen's local radio stations OOG TV and STUG TV have given a lot of attention to 'Save Languages in Groningen'. In the Video and Audio (see below) there are new audio files to listen to. Stine Jensen, a publicist at NRC Next, wrote a column (which can be read in Dutch below) where she mentioned the University of Groningen's plans to drop Danish, Finnish, Hungarian and Norwegian.

Dr. Andreas Blühm, art historian and director of the Groninger Museum, signed the petition on Tuesday and left the following comment:

From 9 December 2012 to 5 May 2013, an exhibition entitled Nordic Art 1880 - 1920 is on at the Groninger Museum. This exhibition is a tribute to the peoples and cultures of the Nordic countries, and provides an overview of 19th and 20th-century North European painting. Works by artists from Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Iceland are on display.

Guestbook entry

Drsd. Peter Starmans
Posted: 2012-12-10 11:33:51
"Hier in Finland en op de Facebook van de Nederlandse vereniging werd en wordt er veel over gediscussieerd. Het is eigenlijk een schande, dat in Nederland al gauw zelfs niet meer één plaats is, waar bijvoorbeeld Hongaars, Ests en Fins kan worden gestudeerd met iets meer inhoud dan alleen maar de taalkundigheid. Een taal is wel iets meer dan alleen maar woorden, zinnen en een grammatica. In de EU van nu berhoren toch op z'n minst de EU'talen van de lidmaatschapslanden een plaats te hebben op universiteiten van de EU-staten en interne gesprekspartners, dat is toch wel de normaalste beleefdheid (en uiteraard veel meer), die van een collega-staat gevraagd mag worden. Ik heb in Helsinki als lector voor Nederlandse Taal en Cultuur jarenlang met plezier en met interesse (zowel van mijn kant als van de kant van de studenten) gedoceerd. Dat was een goede zaak. Dus Fins, Ests of Hongaars in Groningen, dat is ook een goede zaak! "

Monday, December 10, 2012

The signatures keep coming, over 3000 now

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9 December & 10 December
Big names are supporting us! Stine Jensen (Danish-Dutch philosopher and publicist), Pieter Steinz (editor of NRC Handelsblad), Andras Gergely (former Hungarian ambassador to the Netherlands), Jutka Rona (photographer) Frederik Kortlandt (Spinozapremie laureate), Nicoline van der Sijs (writes about Dutch vocabulary and is a columnist for the NRC Handelsblad), Marlies Philippa (editor of the Dutch Etymological Dictionary), Tomas Riad (member of the Swedish Academy) and professors from universities all over the world signed the petition during the past two days.

What people said
Prof. Line Alice Ytrehus - Bergen, Norway

Drs. Froukje Mulder - Berlin, Germany

Dr. Roger Greenwald - Toronto, Canada

Dr. Minna Suni - Jyväskylä, Finland

Prof. Dr. Sven Hakon Rossel - Vienna, Austria

Signature Map - Monday 10 December 8.55 PM (GMT+1)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dutch Writers Guild shows support - and other beautiful comments

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8 December - 2385 signatures
It has also come to the attention of the Vereniging van Letterkundigen (Dutch Writers Guild) that the University of Groningen plans to drop the languages Danish, Finnish, Hungarian and Norwegian from its curriculum. "That would be a great loss to the Netherlands, and more specifically for the translating world", they write on their website. You can read their open letter to the Board of the University here (in Dutch).

The VvL writes about the importance of language studies, due to students being required as interpreters, translators, teachers and as a specialists in the field of trade and tourism. They see the cuts on culture in general as a broader trend in the Netherlands. That language studies are the victim of this cuts is a disturbing symptom in their opinion. They ask the university to reconsider their decision.

More beautiful comments
Dr. Stella el Bouayadi - Van de Wetering - Utrecht, Netherlands

Mr. Sándor Gábor Téglásy - Budapest, Hungary

Mr. Janne Saarikivi - Helsinki, Finland

Mr. Klaus Møller-Nielsen - Tervuren, Belgium

Ms. Margriet Schager - Netherlands

Prof. Gábor Tolcsvai Nagy - Budapest, Hungary

Prof. Dr. Henk van der Liet - Amsterdam, Netherlands

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Big names have signed the petition, again over a 1000 signatures on second day

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7 December
The heartwarming comments keep coming and after two days more than 2,000 signatures have been collected. The Finnish author Sofi Oksanen (winner of the Runeberg Prize 2009) and the Dutch author Toon Tellegen (two-time winner of the Gouden Griffel) signed the petition on the second day.  Also the first people from Argentina, Georgia, Lebanon, Nepal, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey and Ukraine showed their support. The University of Oslo has sent a letter of support, which can be read below.

You can now follow all the action on Twitter by clicking here. Don’t forget to tell your tweeps about it! #SaveLanguages

Signatures across the world

(8 December 2012 1.00 AM, GMT+1)

Northernmost signature: Utsjoki, Finland
Southernmost signature: Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Friday, December 7, 2012

Over 1000 signatures on first day

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6 December

This afternoon the petition was set up and Cornelius Hasselblatt, professor of Finno-Ugric Languages and Cultures at the University of Groningen, was first to sign. The Universiteitskrant was present and made a movie (which you can watch here). Many signatures followed and with dr. Ilona Laha from Latvia as 1052nd signature was the first day of the petition very successful.

Signatures from across the world:

On the first day the petition was signed by people from Aruba, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Laos, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Puerto Rico, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

What people said:

Mr. Laurentius Huber - Leipzig, Germany

Mr. Drs. Alexander van Hoboken - Nijmegen, Netherlands

Dr. Viola van Bogaert - Aruba

Mrs. Pityi Brigitta - Budapest, Hungary

Ms. Anna Tardy - Budapest, Hungary

Dr. Bo G. Ekelund - Stockholm, Sweden

Dr. Per Erik Ljung - Lund, Sweden

Drs. Linda Hoekstra - Leeuwarden, Netherlands

Professor Dr. Hans Aili - Stockholm, Sweden

MS Eszter Zinkstok - Luxembourg

Dr. Tjeerd de Graaf - Paterswolde, Netherlands

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Click here for the petition

Last year the University of Groningen decided to merge most of its Modern Language Programmes into a single programme: European Languages and Cultures, featuring the study of 10 European languages from a European perspective. But this new programme was barely in its third month when the University announced plans to reduce the number of languages from 10 to 6. As of September 2013, students will not longer have the possibility to choose Danish, Norwegian, Finnish or Hungarian.

However, the value of these languages extends well beyond the university walls. Cultural exchanges between countries large and small are of great economical importance. Accordingly, the study of languages and cultures at academic level is vital –language students go on to work as writers, communicators, translators, interpreters, editors etc. If the University of Groningen’s plans to discontinue four modern language programmes take effect, unique expertise will be drained from the country, with devastating effects in the long term. With this petition, we urge the University of Groningen to reconsider these plans, and to continue to offer Danish, Finnish, Hungarian and Norwegian as part of the European Languages and Cultures programme. If you want to support our cause, please sign this petition and spread the word!

On behalf of staff, students and alumni of the departments of Scandinavian and Finno-Ugric languages at the University of Groningen

Prof. Muriel Norde
(Chair of Scandinavian Languages and Cultures)

Prof. Cornelius Hasselblatt
(Chair of Finno-Ugric Languages and Cultures)

We urge the Board of the University of Groningen to reconsider these plans, and to continue to offer Danish, Finnish, Hungarian and Norwegian within the curriculum of the European Languages and Cultures programme.