Since 1983 the Akademie för uns kölsche Sproch (Kölsch Language Academy) is committed to the preservation and the cultivation of an up-to-date Cologne regional language. Nowadays, the institution uses this term because “Kölsch”, in comparison to other dialects is easily learned by means of an authoritative standardization of grammar and orthography that the Academy has published. The Academy offers many learning opportunities, which are divided into four areas: seminars, linguistics, the library, and events; these are addressed to all generations.
At the time that the Academy was founded, it was already a matter of “maintaining the continued existence of one of the most distinctive, robust, and rich dialects.” As such, the founding of the Academy was the result of a concern that the Kölsch language could eventually become extinct, because since the 1970s the everyday use of Kölsch had reached a low level, which was supposedly due to the speaker’s lack of knowledge of the language.
Today, after more than 30 years, the institution is firmly anchored in Cologne and the range of seminars and leisure activities as well as the public library all serve as points of contact for all matters that have to do with the Kölsch language. The brisk multigenerational inflow at the Academy can be explained by the need to protect and to cultivate cultural roots in the era of globalization and rapid social change. Cultural identity is important for people to situate themselves in an increasingly digitized world and in order to feel “at home.” According to Wolfgang Oelsner, an expert in the field of tradition, this “longing for family bonding” declared a “backlash against unlimited mobility and availability.”
As a result, “those who, three decades ago, committed themselves to the regional language culture, not only proved [to be] conservationists, but in retrospect also placeholders for the future,” concluded Wolfgang Oelsner in his laudatory speech on the occasion of the anniversary of the Academy.
The Academy strives to continuously develop their programs in order to be of continual interest to the citizens of Cologne, and to remain as such in the future.