European Journal of Language Policy

Approaches to fair linguistic communication

European Journal of Language Policy (2010), 2, (1), 1–21.

Abstract

The paper focuses on European language policy. A polity of 27 states with 23 official languages is an enormous challenge. The public discourse of EU politicians stresses the need to maintain all the languages of the EU, for they are an essential component of European identity. The EU's linguistic reality looks different. It is characterised by the ever greater predominance of just one language, English. Recent publications have shown that the hegemony of English has led to severe disadvantages for non-anglophones in general and in academia in particular. There is a growing awareness of the dangers emanating from the dominance of one language over all other languages. Several options for language policy have been presented to find fair and democratic approaches to international communication. Their scope includes (1) multilingualism/plurilingualism, (2) restriction to receptive skills (e.g. European Intercomprehension), (3) reduced variants of English, e.g. the model 'English as a Lingua Franca (ELF)', (4) initiatives to revive an ancient language (e.g. Latin), and (5) the use of a planned language. The paper gives an introduction to these approaches and an analysis of the treatment that they receive in the literature on language policy. It discusses the extent to which they seem to be feasible and the consequences their implementation would have for language learning.

Cet article se concentre sur la politique linguistique européenne. Une communauté de 27 états et 23 langues officielles représente un énorme défi. Le discours public dans les milieux politiques insiste sur la nécessité de maintenir toutes les langues de l'UE, parce qu'elles sont une composante de l'identité européenne. La réalité est différente. Elle est caractérisée par l'hégémonie d'une seule langue, l'anglais. Les publications actuelles montrent que la dominance de l'anglais présente des désavantages sérieux pour les non-anglophones en général et les sciences en particulier. Une attention toujours plus grande est portée aux risques que comporte l'hégémonie d'une langue sur toutes les autres. Divers scénarios ont été proposés pour trouver des solutions justes et démocratiques : (1) le multilinguisme/plurilinguisme, (2) la limitation aux capacités passives, (3) des variantes réduites de l'anglais, (ex : le modèle English as a Lingua Franca [ELF]), (4) des initiatives pour faire revivre des langues anciennes (ex : le Latin), et (5) l'utilisation d'une langue planifiée. L'article présente ces scénarios et leur traitement dans la littérature spécialisée en politique linguistique. Il examine dans quelle mesure ils sont réalisables et quelles seraient les conséquences de leur mise en œuvre pour l'enseignement des langues étrangères.

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Fiedler, Sabine