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How Could International Scientific Communication Be Made Fairer and More Efficient? (Announced as “Can the language of science be planned?”) Ulrich Ammon Characterization of the present situation Reasonably safe knowledge English is the only global lingua franca of science

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How Could International Scientific Communication Be Made Fairer and More Efficient? (Announced as “Can the language of science be planned?”)Ulrich Ammon

characterization of the present situation
Characterization of the present situation

Reasonably safe knowledge

  • English is the only global lingua franca of science
  • English is more dominant in the natural sciences than in the social sciences or the humanities
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Shares of languages in natural sciences 1997-2005 (Percentage) (Average of biology, chemistry, physics, and medicine; from Biological Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts, INSPEC, Medline – Biology missing for 2005. Spanish < 1% during entire time span)

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Shares of languages in the social sciences (percentage)(Source: International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, IBSS. The shares of other languages including Chinese, Japanese or Portuguese remain < 1%)

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III) Scientists are forced to use English

IV) English is the native tongue of a

minority

V) There is an Anglophone-centered flow of

information

VI) Anglophones enjoy vast communicative

advantages

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VII) The communicative advantages carry over to advantages like gatekeeping, higher reputation, and institutional attraction

VIII) Awareness of the non-Anglophones’

linguistic disadvantages is growing

IX) There is resentment against the

Anglophones expressed as

“American linguistic imperialism”

X) Ameliorations should guarantee overall

efficiency and fairness

open questions
Open questions

i) Is the hegemony of English exaggerated?

ii) In which fields are publications in other

languages still important?

iii) Is the Anglophone scientists’ preference

for publications in English rational?

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iv) Does a single lingua franca also hamper the development of science?

v) Who suffers disproportionately from the hegemony of English?

Recent losers?

Speakers of very different languages?

vi) What are the Anglophones’ economic

benefits?

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vii) Will automatic translation and

interpretation ameliorate problems?

viii) Will general skills in English balance out

asymmetries?

2 language policy suggestions
2. Language policy suggestions
  • Awareness campaign and competent committees in scientific organizations
  • Sensitizing the Anglophones to the non-Anglophones’ difficulties
  • More language services at conferences
  • More editorial support for publications
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5) More training in writing scientific English

6) Need for and difficulty of greater language

norm tolerance

7) “International English”?

“Globish”?

“Globalish”?