Interview with Nicoletta Mariolini on
Swiss linguistic diversity
On 30 November 2023, Swissmint will launch a new special coin, the “Linguistic diversity” gold coin. We asked Ms Mariolini, the Federal Delegate for Plurilingualism, five questions about Swiss linguistic diversity.
What are your tasks and objectives as Federal Delegate for Plurilingualism?
As the Federal Administration is a microcosm of Switzerland, it has a duty to guarantee that the linguistic communities are fairly represented within it. This is stipulated in the Federal Constitution and the Languages Act (LangA), supported by the Languages Ordinance (LangO), which sets the target values for the representation of the different language communities within the Federal Administration. To guarantee optimal comprehension between linguistic communities, the legislation also aims to strengthen employees’ language skills and facilitate access to language training.
It is in this context that the strategic position of Federal Delegate for Plurilingualism was created. The role consists of coordinating the implementation of the Federal Council’s strategic objectives in terms of plurilingualism, in collaborating with the federal departments, the Federal Chancellery and the Federal Office of Personnel, and ensuring that they are properly monitored. This is a pivotal function that connects the political levels with the Federal Administration.
“Cultural diversity and plurilingualism are part of Switzerland’s very essence, and many other countries rightly envy us for our linguistic diversity.”
Is Switzerland really a model country for plurilingualism?
Cultural diversity and plurilingualism are part of Switzerland’s very essence, and many other countries rightly envy us for our linguistic diversity. Switzerland and the Swiss represent a nation of consensus. Our strength lies in this unity in diversity and the will to overcome our differences and live well together. In order to ensure equal opportunities for linguistic minorities and thus to ensure that plurilingualism flourishes, the will and the openness of the linguistic majority play an important role. In this way, everyone’s needs can be taken into account and, time and again, measures can be implemented together to promote this important cultural heritage.
The new special coin bears 5 inscriptions on the obverse, “Salut”, “Grüezi”, “Salve” and “Allegra” as well as “Varietad Linguistica”. These are complemented by four distinctive Swiss landmarks (one for each linguistic region). The reverse features Article 70 of the Federal Constitution. Do you think the coin’s design is a success?
A real success. In a nutshell: our plurilingualism is worth its weight in gold!