The Language of Democracy: Vernacular or Esperanto? Daniele Archibugi Italian National Research Council University of London Birkbeck Charles V What is the language of democracy? Will Kymlicka’s answer Politics in the Vernacular :
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Italian National Research Council
University of London Birkbeck
Politics in the Vernacular:
“democratic politics is politics in the vernacular. The average citizen only feels comfortable debating political issues in their own tongue. As a general rule, it is only elites who have fluency with more than one language, and who have the continual opportunity to maintain and develop these language skills, and who feel comfortable debating political issues in another tongue with multilingual settings. Moreover, political communication has a large ritualistic component, and these ritualised forms of communication are typically language-specific. Even if one understands a foreign language in the technical sense, without knowledge of the ritualistic elements one may be unable to understand political debates. For these and other reasons, we can expect – as a general rule – that the more political debate is conducted in the vernacular, the more participatory it will be”
Can the public opinion be the “Queen of the World”? (William Ladd, 1844)
How can the single components interact among each other?
Shall we go back to the ethnic or linguistic composition of nations?
A global polity for everybody or just for the elites?
Cosmopolitanism can be democratic?
Democracy can be cosmopolitan?
by Lars von Trier
The language for democratic politics is not a mean to affirm identity
but to be
an instrument of communication
A school with an increasing number of Spanish speaking children.
Lower proficiency of the Spanish speaking children
Perceived lower level of efficiency of the school. Even in Rugby, Hispanics are less talented than Anglos
Growing tension among the two communities
32.3 % of the population
is foreign born
American Indian 0.7%
Pacific Islander 0.1%
Other race 16.0%
English only is spoken by 55% of the population over age five.
The Spanish language is spoken by 29.3% of the population over age five.
The proportion of those speaking a language other than English at home is 45%;
22.2% do not speak English well.
“There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant Society. Mexican Americans will share in that dream and in that society only if they dream in English”
Crucial role of language for identity
Separate the children into two different sections, each with the main language in their vernacular
Rugby for Anglos, soccer for Hispanics
“The best language of education for any child is the best language for this child” (Thomas Pogge)
Education in English for all, Spanish as second language
As joint sport, baseball
Salsa for all parents
Four language communities in 1870s:
Esperanto as a simple language (as the newspeak)
Not meant to substitute live languages, but to allow communication
It could have solved a small problem in Bialystock, a great problem in the world
Increases the amount of participants
Direct understanding within the community
Role of elites is reduced internally but increases externally
It allows the formation of cross-border alliances and parties
It does not require intermediaries
Elites have an advantage in communicationVernacular or Esperanto?