The languages of Europe, paradoxically a lasting system
Langage et société n°125, September 2008
The European integration process has produced a linguistic regime that is stable but paradoxical. The list of official languages regularly expands while, at an informal level, the European Union predominantly uses English. This discrepancy is not transitional. A European Babel is not being rationalised into a monolingual State. On the contrary: the EU promotes its diversity and pretends to reject English, which it considers as the language of both the mercantilist globalisation and the American cultural imperialism. English is both the common medium and the common enemy. Since the Union ideal is peace between the European nations, it cannot discriminate among of the national languages. Thus, it necessarily has to use an informal third-party language. Since World English is the last language that the Union aims to protect, it is also the least contentious tongue. Official diversity and informal English are reinforcing each other.
Key words : Europe, European Union, official languages, English, linguistic policy, enemy.
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