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Reflecting upon the European Day of Languages

Presentation prepared for the invited talk at the British School of Amsterdam, 28 Sep 2022

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Reflecting upon the European Day of Languages
Multilingualism and Language Regimes
Federico Gobbo
F.Gobbo@uva.nl
The British School of Amsterdam, 28 Sep 2022
1
Council of Europe: 46 member states, 42 languages (web site)
Source: https://edl.ecml.at/, 27 Sep 2022
The Council of Europe is the guardian of human rights
Source: https://www.coe.int/en/web/about-us/do-not-get-confused, 27 Sep 2022
(C)overt multilingualism in the EU
27 member states, 24 official languages
Source: https://europa.eu/!QRCCVP, 6 May 2020
Not all Europe’s languages are official
Source: https://www.eurominority.eu/index.php/langues-deurope/, 27 Sep 2022

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Reflecting upon the European Day of Languages

  • 1. Reflecting upon the European Day of Languages Multilingualism and Language Regimes Federico Gobbo F.Gobbo@uva.nl The British School of Amsterdam, 28 Sep 2022 1
  • 2. Council of Europe: 46 member states, 42 languages (web site) Source: https://edl.ecml.at/, 27 Sep 2022
  • 3. The Council of Europe is the guardian of human rights Source: https://www.coe.int/en/web/about-us/do-not-get-confused, 27 Sep 2022
  • 5. 27 member states, 24 official languages Source: https://europa.eu/!QRCCVP, 6 May 2020
  • 6. Not all Europe’s languages are official Source: https://www.eurominority.eu/index.php/langues-deurope/, 27 Sep 2022
  • 7. A closer look to the British Isles and The Netherlands Source: https://www.eurominority.eu/index.php/langues-deurope/, 27 Sep 2022
  • 8. Are languages a taboo in the EU?
  • 9. Any language on the pound?
  • 10. Any language on the Swiss Franc? recto verso
  • 11. Any language on the euro? (recto, old version)
  • 12. Any language on the euro? (verso, old version)
  • 13. Any language on the euro? (recto, new version)
  • 14. Any language on the euro? (verso, new version)
  • 15. How we write ‘euro’ in the official languages of EU 13
  • 17. A classic definition of language regimes There are many ways to theorize about the interdependence that may exist between language and politics. One way is to consider the mutual influen- ces of the typical language situations and political situations that people try to bring into being. At any time, there are only a few types of situa- tions that many people have names for and work for or against. We can call these salient types of situations “regimes.” Johnatan Pool (1990, my emphasis) 14
  • 18. Language regimes as constraints on political regimes • There is no zero-option: fully a-linguistic state policies simply do not exist (De Schutter 2007) 15
  • 19. Language regimes as constraints on political regimes • There is no zero-option: fully a-linguistic state policies simply do not exist (De Schutter 2007) • Language regimes are generally understood as a prerequisite of nationhood and statehood (in the sense of ‘imagined’ communities, Anderson 1983) 15
  • 20. Language regimes as constraints on political regimes • There is no zero-option: fully a-linguistic state policies simply do not exist (De Schutter 2007) • Language regimes are generally understood as a prerequisite of nationhood and statehood (in the sense of ‘imagined’ communities, Anderson 1983) • Language regimes can strengthen cultural bonds and social trust, or they may exacerbate cultural differences and power imbalances 15
  • 21. Language regimes as constraints on political regimes • There is no zero-option: fully a-linguistic state policies simply do not exist (De Schutter 2007) • Language regimes are generally understood as a prerequisite of nationhood and statehood (in the sense of ‘imagined’ communities, Anderson 1983) • Language regimes can strengthen cultural bonds and social trust, or they may exacerbate cultural differences and power imbalances • Language regimes are not defined once and for all, but rather they develop over time along societal, political and economic change 15
  • 22. Language regimes as constraints on political regimes • There is no zero-option: fully a-linguistic state policies simply do not exist (De Schutter 2007) • Language regimes are generally understood as a prerequisite of nationhood and statehood (in the sense of ‘imagined’ communities, Anderson 1983) • Language regimes can strengthen cultural bonds and social trust, or they may exacerbate cultural differences and power imbalances • Language regimes are not defined once and for all, but rather they develop over time along societal, political and economic change • Research on language regimes needs interdisciplinarity 15
  • 23. The 24 official languages of the EU Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish. (source: europa.eu) Remark. Luxembourgian is not an official language of the European Union even if Luxembourg is one of the 6 countries that signed in 1951 the Treaty of Paris (along with Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands). 16
  • 24. Regional and Minority languages of the EU after 1992 The EU is home to over 60 indigenous regional or minority languages, spoken by some 40 million people, approx 10% of EU population. They include Basque, Catalan, Frisian, Saami, Welsh and Yiddish. Remark. While it is national governments that determine these languages’ legal status and the extent to which they receive support, the European Commission maintains an open dialogue, encouraging linguistic diversity to the extent possible. (source: europa.eu) 17
  • 25. The language regime of the EU The European Union recognizes 2 levels of official statuses: 1. official languages 2. regional and minority languages (RMLs) The 2012 Eurobarometer survey on Europeans and their languages revealed very positive attitudes to multilingualism: • 98% say mastering foreign languages will benefit their children. • 88% think that knowing languages other than their mother tongue is very useful. • 72% agree with the EU goal of at least 2 foreign languages for everyone. • 77% say improving language skills should be a policy priority. (source: europa.eu) 18
  • 26. “Recent” migration languages No legal status. No general official surveys. Relevant examples: • Arabic (lot of variation across communities) • Chinese (not only Mandarin, also Chinese ‘dialects’) • Russian (especially in the Baltic states) • Swahili • Turkish (some variation across communities) • ... 19
  • 27. Sign languages Some recognition, if any, at the state level. Peculiarities: • Deafhood (culture) vs deaf-as-handicap • Independent typology (e.g. VGT (Flemish) and NGT (Dutch) are very different, while VGT and LSFB (French Belgian) are closely related) • multi-modal communication, new ICT challenges 20
  • 28. Are other regimes possible?
  • 29. Building the EU: main steps 1951 Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), 1993 The Maastricht Treaty (European Union, EU) 2005 Stop: referenda on the European Constitution 21
  • 30. Building the EU: steps of the language regimes 1951 Treaty of Paris establishing the European Coal and Steel Community, 1953 Discussion over an English-French (with Esperanto used to make this option fail) (Sokolovska 2006) 1957 Treaty of Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), 1958 Article 1 states the official and working languages 1992 The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (CETS 148) 1993 The Maastricht Treaty (European Union, EU) 2005 Stop: referenda on the European Constitution 2019 The European Ombudsman launches a survey on multilingualism in the EU institutions 22
  • 31. Esperanto in the discussion in 1953 Source: Sokolovska (2016: 14)
  • 32. Esperanto is a contact language
  • 33. Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof launched Esperanto in 1887 Source: Graphic novel Bonvenon! (Gobbo & Gamberoni 2018)
  • 34. From the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw… 2014 Vikimedio. Charlie Chaplin, The Great Dictator, 1940
  • 35. …through the persecutions during WW2… © 2014 Dan Mazur. Esperantists
  • 36. …to the UNESCO resolutions… General Conference of UNESCO. Eight session. Montevideo (Uruguay), 1954. Resolution adopted on December 10th , 1954, in the eighteenth plenary-meeting. IV.1.4.422 - The General Conference, Having discussed the report of the Director-General on the international petition in favour of Esperanto (8C/PRG/3), IV.1.4.4221 - Takes note of the results attained by Esperanto in the field of international intellectual relations and the rapprochement of the peoples of the world ; IV.1.4.4222 - Recognizes that these results correspond with the aims ans ideals of UNESCO ; IV.1.4.4223 - Takes note that several Member States have announced their readiness to introduce or expand the teaching of Esperanto in their schools and higher educational establishments, and requests these Member States to keep the Director-General informed of the results attained in this field ; IV.1.4.4224 - Authorizes the Director-General to follow current developments in the use of Esperanto in education, science and culture, and, to this end, to co-operate with the Universal Esperanto Association in matters concerning both organizations.
  • 37. …and beyond! © 2015 F Gobbo. World Esperanto Congress, Lille, FR
  • 38. La geamikoj salutas nin Source: kursosaluton.org/, 27 Sep 2022
  • 39. Kelkaj priskriboj de la foto / Some descriptions of the photo La geamikoj salutas vin afable verbo artikolo subjekto objekto adverbo • La geamikoj salutas la klason. • La geamikoj salutas vin per * mano + . • La geamikoj salutas vin per * mano sur * la aerŝipo ++ . • La aŭtoro desegnas la geamikojn sur * la papero + . 31
  • 40. Unu regulo por nomoj kaj adjektivoj en Esperanto en la nederlanda en la angla granda elefanto een grote olifant a big elephant malgranda elefanto een kleine olifant a small elephant rapida ĉevalo een snel paard a fast horse malrapidaj ĉevaloj langzame paarden slow horses © 2015 Huffington Post 32
  • 41. La povo de la sufiksoj / The power of suffixes en Esperanto en la nederlanda en la angla ĉevalo paard horse ĉevalino merrie mare ĉevalido veulen colt ĉevalejo stal stable ĉevalaro een kudde paarden a herd of horses © 2013 Kelly Walkotten on Flickr 33
  • 42. Dankon por via atento!