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Center for Multiple Languages and Literacies Teachers College, Columbia University & International Linguistic Association. Language rights in a neo-imperial world: English for uniting or dividing? Robert Phillipson Faculty of Languages, Communication, and Cultural Studies,
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Language rights in a neo-imperial world:
English for uniting or dividing?
Faculty of Languages, Communication,
and Cultural Studies,
Copenhagen Business School
Should everyone speak English?
The Great English divide. In Europe, speaking the lingua franca separates the haves
from the have-nots.
Business Week (European edition)
13 August 2001
English unites global elites and divides them off from the rest of the population
It is in the economic and political interest of the United States to ensure that if the world is moving toward a common language, it be English; that if the world is moving toward common telecommunications, safety, and quality standards, they be American; and that if common values are being developed, they be values with which Americans are comfortable. These are not idle aspirations. English is linking the world…
The global expansion of English has been a key dimension of foreign policy since 1945.
The British and Americans are divided by a common language.
George Bernard Shaw
… the British Empire and the United States who, fortunately for the progress of mankind, happen to speak the same language and very largely think the same thoughts…
Winston Churchill, 24 August 1941, after signing The Atlantic Charter with President Roosevelt
… the USA and the UK…
The European Union is at root a Franco-German project
BUT French and German are being marginalised nationally and internationally, and
the use of English is increasing throughout continental Europe and in EU institutions.
EU also follows a US agenda
Our nation is chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world. George W. Bush, 2000
The rest of the world is best served by the USA pursuing its own interests because American values are universal.
Condoleezza Rice, 2000
corporate neoliberalism = americanisation
EU treaties and rhetoric proclaim support for multilingualism,
and cultural and linguistic diversity
BUT in practice
B. Supranationally: EU system (inter-governmental – neofederal?)
The right to identify with the mother tongue(s) and to have this identification accepted and respected by others (Skutnabb-Kangas late 1960s-2000)
Immanuel Kant, Theory and practice, 1792
’through an ocean of blood to the Kingdom of Love’ (Robespierre, Hitler, Stalin, religious wars…)
Isaiah Berlin, Liberty, (1981) 2002
Nothing has proved harder in the history of civilization than to see God, or good, or human dignity in those whose language is not mine, whose skin is a different colour, whose faith is not my faith and whose truth is not my truth… A god of your side as well as mine must be a God of justice who stands above us both, teaching us to make space for one another, to hear each other’s claims and to resolve them equitably… Only such a God would teach mankind to make peace other than by conquest and conversion, and as something nobler than practical necessity.
Jonathan Sacks, The dignity of dfference. How to avoid the clash of civilizations, 2002, 65
Newsweek interviewer, 31 May 2004:
A unified Europe in which English, as it turns out, is the universal language?
It will be broken English, but it will be English.
Stigma? The top language? Euro-English?
Linguistic hierarchy on the Commission website
= institutional linguicism
Gardt & Hüppauf (eds.), Globalization and the future of German, Mouton de Gruyter, 2004:
It is hard to find another European society in which so many people are ready and even eager to give up their national identity (…)
it is the cultural status and the role of German for expressing human ideals, insights and aspirations which is at stake (…)
a self-inflicted tragedy. Hans Joachim Meyer
The contemporary dominance of English was initially due to the way Britain and the USA promoted the language. But currently it is the non-English-speaking nations which are consolidating this state of dependence (exemplified by English-medium textbooks in higher education) vis-à-vis the Anglo-American language, and as a result, their dependence on the Anglo-Saxon world. Dependence in science, then culture, then economic, then political!
It is self-imposed servitude and not the result of any objective fact that cannot be changed.
Greece: English co-official?
Denmark: in political debate in the daily paper Politiken, 18 September 2005:
The Radicals want to make Denmark bilingual. They suggest that English should be given the same position as Danish in public services. ”Everyone should have the right to address public authorities and receive a reply in English. This is a logical and efficient way of tackling globalisation…” says the Radical leader, Marianne Jelved.
The range of languages for learning:
a Europe of freedom
Europe as polysemic: toponym, politonym, ethnonym, econonym, or linguonym?
Europe not a meaningful concept for the young
Equally opaque: freedom, education, research
45 member states, Australia and the USA as observers, EU Commission as participant and funder
nothing on bilingual degrees or multilingualism
internationalisation = English-medium education?
”As a result of the Bologna process, 45 European countries have agreed to implement a Bachelor/Masters degree structure. The concept of the bi-lingual university is already being widely discussed in eastern Europe;
you can now do a medical degree in English in Hungary , for example.
And that’s a trend that is going to continue.”
who warns against an excessive focus on English.
European Association for International Education, Occasional paper 17, July 2005.Michael Woolf, President, Foundation for International Education, London
I gotta use words when I talk to you:
English and international education.
Pirkko Vartiainen, The legitimacy of evaluation. A comparison of Finnish and English institutional evaluations of higher education. Frankfurt a M: Peter Lang, 2004.
University autonomy is effectively the norm in Finland (a country with an exceptionally successful economy and school system), even if largely funded by the state, whereas in England it is the privilege of elite universities, because of the coercive evaluation procedures, designed to rank goodies and baddies, and reward them accordingly, rather than seeing evaluation as an ongoing process that can strengthen institutional planning, mission and quality.
The ‘international quality’ that all universities are supposed to strive for is not a gold standard but one that can be reached by many routes, and that coercive policies counteract.
The current dominance of English results in quantifiable
Continental countries are transferring to the UK & Ireland at least € 10bn per year, more probably about € 16 to 17 bn a year (cf budget rebate of € 5bn annually)
Grin, François, à paraître/forthcoming2005: L'enseignement des langues étrangères comme politique publique. Rapport au Haut Conseil de l'évaluation de l'école, Paris, n° 19,
strengthen market forces and English, as do the working practices of the European Commission.
together these are ‘resulting in the gradual commodification of higher education’ (ibid.)
Ninnes, Peter & Meeri Hellstén (eds.) 2005. Internationalizing higher education. Critical explorations of pedagogy and policy, Hong Kong: Comparative Education Research Centre, The University of Hong Kong, and Springer.
goals – comprehension – parallel competence – multi- and plurilingualism – the Nordic region as a language model
There are 127 species of cuckoo worldwide, of which 42 in Europe. This matches pretty well with Englishes worldwide, and in Europe – except that new species of English are evolving rapidly. We need to learn to live with them, and promote biological and linguistic diversity.
All language communities have the right to preserve their linguistic and cultural heritage, Dalai Lama
Words are no deeds, William Shakespeare
The distinction between NECESSARY and ENRICHMENT-ORIENTED rights is a sociological not legal distinction(TSK)Language rights are of concern to- national and international law- political science- multilingual education- sociolinguistics, BUTthis is unusual in the social scienceswhereas in the political world (e.g. Council of Europe, OSCE, EU membership criteria) minority language rights figure prominently