Caviedes - ' Dialectical Anthropology 27: 249—268, 2003....

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–20. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 2
Background image of page 3

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 4
Background image of page 5

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 6
Background image of page 7

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 8
Background image of page 9

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 10
Background image of page 11

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 12
Background image of page 13

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 14
Background image of page 15

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 16
Background image of page 17

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 18
Background image of page 19

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
Background image of page 20
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: ' Dialectical Anthropology 27: 249—268, 2003. 249 © 2003 KluwerAcademic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands. The Role of Language in Nation-Building within the European Union ALEXANDER CAVIEDES Department of Political Science, University of Msconsin, Madison, WI 53706, USA (E—mail: Caviedes @polisci.wisc.edu) Abstract. Europe is home to a vast array of indigenous languages, not to mention numerous immigrant languages. European Union (EU) acknowledgement of “national” languages as official languages results in a privileged status for these languages vis-a-vis the minority languages with which they cohabit. This support prevents hegemony by a single language such as English, yet the EU simultaneously undermines these national languages domestically by promoting their minority language competitors. This paradox can only be understood by examining the developing model for European identity whereby identity is viewed as variable and mold-faceted, rooted in multilingual facility and the absence of a single, monolithic source of identity. If the project of creating a European identity is viewed as nation—building, it is central to consider how the issue of language diversity is addressed at the European level. The paper begins by discussing the concept of national identity and the central role that language plays in its determination, as well as what modem conceptions of language planning bring to this process. After exploring the European language terrain, the paper considers whether the EU can even be said to have a language policy. The discussion focuses on multilingual education programs, the treatment of minority languages, and the issue of languages spoken by immigrant populations. Having presented these conceptual tools and policy surveys, an analytical framework is introduced that situates the nation-building process in relation to the creation of a common European identity. I. Introduction The European Union (EU) makes an interesting object for study thanks to the duality of its nature. Is it merely a supranational organization that recon- figures the interests and economic paths of the member states along a single guideline, or are we actually witnessing the slow yet deliberate progression toward an actual European state? While some students of European integra- tion postulate the creation of the latter, the truth is that the keys to the EU are still held in the hands of the member states to a large degree. Even in areas where the member states have ceded pockets of authority to the EU, the Union carefully avoids diminishing the visibility and identity of the individual nations. Nevertheless, there are developments toward creating a European identity. This project is referred to by some as nation-forming, and if that is truly what is occurring, it is appropriate to ask how the question of language 250 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES diversity is addressed at the EU level, since language generally plays a central role in determining the character of a national identity. This paper seeks to shed some light on the nature of this new European identity through an examination of the language policy of the EU. Part II discusses the concept of national identity and the central role that language plays in determining its nature, as well as what the modem conception of language planning brings to this process. After exploring the language terrain within the EU in Part III, Part IV will answer the question of whether the EU can even be said to have a language policy. In partic— ular, discussion focuses on multilingual education programs, the treatment of minority languages, and the issue of languages spoken by immigrant popula- tions. With these conceptual tools and factual information in hand, Part V concludes by attempting to construct an analytical framework for concep- tualizing the nation-building process as it is taking place with regard to a common European identity within the European Union. H. Nation-building and the role of language A. National identity The concept of nation is a frequently debated one, but a good starting point would be to describe it as a human collectivity defining itself as historically constituted or desired, where that notion makes some claim to autonomy. While many of the components of national identity, such as religion, language and symbols, may be older than history, the notion of the nation emerged in the eighteenth century in Western Europe, where specifically ethnically defined communities developed around already existing kingdoms or cultures to form nation-states. As we are speaking about Europe, we will use this model, even though there are alternative paths leading to the formation of nations that center around the contrasting colonial experience and its reaction to colonials or the home nations. Key to a conception of nation is the notion of identity as a source of symbols and legitimacy for mobilization toward the task of nation-building. Whether one is predisposed to a primordial or constructivist explanatory framework of identity formation, each approach shares the view that culture, language, and religion have historically been the central components of national identity. B. Language and nation-building The survival of a nation and the success of its drive towards nation-state status are predicated upon the existence of a language that its people can speak, and more importantly, read and write. While it is important to be able to THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 251 communicate effectively within the modern nation-state, even more crucial to the manifestation of identity is the demarcation and boundary function which language can play.1 While primordialists might focus upon the innate confluence between the nature of a language and the character of the people who speak it, constructivists are more wont to point out that identification is taught and developed through the presence of a common language, and in Europe this unfolded once the vernacular was able to develop at a literary level.2 The font of these language-planning endeavors was the image of the noble and uncontaminated peasant who had managed to keep both the language and national identity intact since the golden ages.3 This tension between instrumental and primordial conceptions of the role of language in nation-building has also been expressed as the difference between the enlight- enment and romanticist legacies. The enlightenment perceived a need for a vernacular language as a lever for challenging the educational privilege of the nobility and clergy, while romanticism stressed the glorification of language as a national treasure, rendering language cultivation a patriotic rather than a social task} While these views either explicitly or implicitly suggest that the task of nationvbuilding must ground unification in one language, this is not the reigning perception among sociolinguists. De Witte has questioned whether Gellner’s insistence upon a single, uniform language to facilitate nation— building is perhaps only valid with respect to the social and economic evolution of the time, and that the simultaneous industrialization and nation- formation characteristic of the eighteenth century are no longer necessary or sufficient configurations.5 Further criticism of unitary language theory Centers on the reality that in the wake of language rationalization and unifica- tion, there is usually not an emergence of a single pure language. Often, numerous dialects, patois, and minority languages may continue to exist with the advent of national integration,6 even when the program is as rigid and homogenizing as that found in France. These critiques recognize that it is not multilingualism per se that engenders division, but the attitudes of the speakers and the sentiments and symbolism attached to the language. If this is a valid comment, it should come as good news to those attempting to include an element of multicultural tolerance within their plans of nation-building. However, because many of the sociolinguists are dealing with cases in Africa or South-east Asia where both resources and alternatives are few, one might speculate whether these authors are merely selling prospective governments on what they believe is the most just option. C. Language planning Language planning has been defined as a “government authorized, long term sustained and conscious effort to alter a language itself or to change 252 ALEXANDER CAerDEs a language’s functions in a society for the purpose of solving communication problems”.7 Though the endeavor usually accompanies processes of nation- state building and consolidation, the primary purpose, as mentioned above, is to facilitate communication within the state. This may sound like an apolit- ical aspiration, but it carries with it several consequences that are likely to bring about conflict. The rationalization process usually involves territorial specification of a common language for the purpose of efficient administra- tion and rule and often results in a condition of linguistic hegemony where the language of the center replaces local languages not only for official purposes, but for normal interchange.8 Language planning begins with corpus plan- ning, or the creation of new forms, modification of old ones, or the selection of alternative forms of language, which is the technical side of the enter- prise. More importantly, language planners must also consider the potential effects of status planning, or the allocation of languages to certain functions? Certain choices may effectively disallow some groups from learning or using a language, or they may require certain languages as prerequisites for access to employment, licensing, court access, etc. As such, language can become either an instrument of participation, access or deprivation, in that it can alter existing relationships of power between different groups within the polity. Language policy cannot be blind to this fact, and the debate over how language planning is best efiectuated usually alternates around issues of corpus planning and administration on one side, and the political effects of status planning on the other. It is also this second dimension which most pertinent for addressing the deprivations to culture and identity that can inad- vertently or consciously be brought about through a language policy that values efficiency over democracy, equality and self—determination. III. The European Union’s language terrain A. Approaching babel? Though it is home to around 58 autochthonous languages,1° there are only eleven officially recognized languages within the EU: Danish, Dutch, Eng- lish, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. This means that all EU legislation must be published in all the member states’ official languages, because it is in effect also national law. To prevent member states from adopting their own translations that might diverge and deprive EU citizens from equal protection, it becomes neces- sary for the EU itself to become the final arbiter of what a law means. This also allows member states and individuals to draft their correspondence to European institutions in any of these eleven official languages with the assurance that the reply will be written in the same language.“ THE ROLE or LANGUAGE 253 This policy results from a Council of Ministers regulation from 1958, stipulating that Dutch, French, German and Italian were the official and working languages of the European Economic Community (BC) institutions. Accompanying successive Community and Union enlargements, the regula- tion has been amended to include the current eleven languages. Since they all have the same status — in that translating and interpreting from each should be occurring into the other ten ~— there are at present 110 language pairs, or dyads, existing within the EU. What is truly staggering is that the contemplated first round of Eastern expansion (which will happen once the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia are accorded membership) would treble the number of dyads, up to 342!12 While this is a large number, the cost currently associated with the adminis- tration of translation and interpretation services comes to only 5% of the EU budget.13 More daunting than the financial costs are the mere logistics behind such an undertaking — housing such a large number of language professionals would require new buildings with assembly halls the size of football stadiums. Given the pretensions of the EU to continue expansion in the new millennium — perhaps until it encompasses all of continental Europe — new debates have sprung up addressing whether the EU should reconsider its language policy before the situation becomes unmanageable. B. De facto ofi‘icial languages French was the original working language within the institutions of the EU. This is only natural given that Brussels, Luxembourg, and Strasbourg all lie in French-speaking territory. However, since the UK and Ireland joined the EC in 1973, English has also become a working language within the institutions. A recent study of language use within the European Commission showed that English was used in 47% of oral communication within the Commission, while French was used only 38% of the time. For written communica- tion within the Commission English outdistanced French 49 to 45%, while external communications were 54% English and only 35% French.14 This confirms the effect that still derives through location, as the greatest differ- ence is found where the receiving parties communicating were not necessarily located in a French-speaking locale. Though French and English are the dominant languages, German also comes in a poor third, used occasionally within informal committee discussions (depending on the particular constel- lation of its membership), even though translators of all the official languages are present.15 Even francophones recognize the inroads made by English, so policy initi- atives emanating from France are more concerned with retaining co—equal status with English than actually elevating French back into primacy. There- fore, France has forwarded proposals on the European level that solicit aid for 254 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES languages “used in their particular area”.16 As egalitarian as this might sound, it is aimed primarily at preventing English language hegemony. Regardless, outside the EC institutions, English is even more prevalent, especially in second language education, as well as in the media, trade, technology and science. For example, Estonia, where the ruling class spoke German for over a millennium, and continued to do so under Soviet rule, now recognizes English as the most important language for foreign business contacts, even when the majority of these contacts are still with Germans.17 The Germans themselves, with the largest group of native speakers within the EC and its most powerful economy, have been far more subdued in their language demands. There have been initiatives trying to establish German as one of only three real working languages, but the timbre of these demands, as evidenced in the following comments of the German Ambassador in the UK, belies luke-warm inten- tions: “We feel that languages that are spoken by a great number of people in Europe should also be considered in this context, but we are in no way pressing for this".18 By quietly opting for English they not only sublimate their own position, but also erode the previous linguistic primacy of their French rivals.” The most bitter irony to the French must be that the British do not even actively promote English within the EU. Part of the appeal behind the use of English is its pluricentric character, which gives it a de-ethnicized and culturally-unbounded quality that allows speakers to use it without auto- matically identifying with one nation.20 This is true to a large extent because the media and commercial power of the United States plays a huge part in enhancing the popularity of the English language, and this is not a function of any British linguistic imperialism within the EU. This failure to pursue linguistic hegemony does not alter the fact the language repertoire of over 75% of multilingual speakers in Western Europe includes English.21 The opinion of one commentator reflects the multilingual mentality of the EU with regard to official languages: viewed holistically, the EU is comprised of cultural and linguistic minorities, so there is no one national (or pan- national) people, culture or language, and there can never be one.22 Even artificial languages like Esperanto cannot claim to be universally conceptu— alized or organic, and cannot fill the role of unitary language,23 though the idea is frequently raised.24 The trend toward monolingualism will continue unless measures are put into place that provide for multilingual administration with a “manageable” number of working 1anguages.25 For this reason, there is frequent advocacy for a minimum number of working languages, but even such opinions do not stray from the central caveat that all languages should still remain usable.26 Such views buy into the idea that form is more important than substance since in reality English becomes ever more hegemonic, even in the face of laws and policies aimed at preserving equality. What does it THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 255 mean to keep all languages usable if only a small core of working languages remain? Either one is prepared to communicate in all languages, or the desig- nation of a few working languages will result in the exclusion of all others. To better understand why the EU continues to hold up this multilingual front in the face of a reality that seems to contradict it, it will first be necessary to review its policy and subsequently, the nature of the ideology behind it. IV. European Union language policy A. Is there a language policy? While some EU policy addresses linguistic matters, in keeping with the general pattern of European integration, there is no clearly discemable uniform policy. Policy develops in an ad hoc manner that allows for an incremental progression that attempts to stave off conflict before a situation becomes too intransigent. Within EU institutions the previously mentioned Regulation no.1 makes all the official languages of the member states the official languages of the EU. Even if all the other states were willing to limit the official working language to English, the French have made it abund— antly clear that they would block any attempts to unseat French within the institutions.27 This type of attitude only elicits similar blocking maneuvers by the other governments who are not about to allow a special dispensation for the French. Not only is there a spirit of intransigen'ce on behalf of the member states, but even within some of the institutions, most notably the European Parliament (EP), have repeatedly come out in favor of preserving multilingualism. This should not be surprising as the EP is supposedly the democratic forum that exists to represent the interests of the people and not only the member states. Multicultural or pluralist language policies seek recognized participation of minority languages. One scheme for arranging this would be along regional lines such as those found in consociationalism, where non-discrimination is achieved through territorial subdivision, federalism or multilevel arrange- ments of political representation.28 However, the Union has adopted a socio— cultural variant that encourages the creation of parallel institutions that are granted equal status in the public sphere. To ensure that communication does not suffer through Such a program, the EU has focused extensively on the promotion of bilingualism or multilingualism in education, culture and the media.29 Language policy in the EU can be separated into three fronts: the previ- ously discussed institutional rules, its various education and cultural policies, and the stance towards minority languages. Within the EU as a whole, 256 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES Article 290 of the Treaty offers protection by prohibiting discrimination based upon language. This law is regarded as being fairly firmly in place, as it can only be amended through unanimous decision,30 and, as mentioned above, there is at least one nation that will always wield its veto in protection of its mother tongue. Therefore, this staunch pledge of support for multiple official languages, when viewed along with the other two policy areas, yields a fairly accurate picture of the complex and at times contradictory image that the European Union is trying to project and develop with regard to a “European” identity. Examining the policies individually, we will attempt to uncover what manner of European nationalism is being created and whether it can even be termed as such. B. Language and cultural policy Though our primary focus is on language, it is also necessary to appreciate that because language is the major component of what is commonly iden- tified as culture, many provisions couched in terms of cultural policy have a largely or predominantly linguistic nature. The EU has recognized that cultural measures are required to make people more aware of their European identity.31 Beyond the creation of various European Union cultural awards, there has been even greater emphasis on broadening commonality through the education process. If one is intent on creating a common identity, key requisites are common education programs and the utilization of language as the prime integrator.32 The LINGUA program pursues the diversification of foreign languages offered in training and educational programs rather than promoting one or two priority languages.33 Erasmus is an international exchange program between universities meant to foster international under- standing as well as multilingualism. At the moment the program is still subject to criticism as only 1.5% of all university students participate.34 However, the EU has responded to other charges that the program is elitist since it only works at the level of a certain social and academic strata, through the introduction of further programs such as Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci, which are targeted at vocational trainees and high school students.35 This is an attempt to ensure that foreign language proficiency is not reserved for an elite or those who acquire it on account of their geographic mobility. The newest and most illuminating policy trajectory emanating from the Commission is a tacit recognition of the dominant position of English within Europe. Even when people are encouraged to diversify their language reper- toires, the odds are that the second language they choose to learn will be English.36 To prevent this tendency from stifling those initiatives that promote the learning of other languages and cultures, the Commission has identified the need for European citizens to be conversant in three languages. In a 1997 THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 257 White Book from DG XXII, it announced the intention to launch education initiatives within the member states that contemplate the instruction of one language at the beginning of high school, followed by one more after a couple of years.” Since it is already part of the Common Foreign Policy of the EU to encourage speaking the languages of third countries when dealing with them directly,38 this principle is merely being turned inwards by encouraging communication with native speakers within the EU in their native tongues when present upon their soil. It has already been suggested by one of the foremost commentators that English only be taught as the second foreign language to prevent students and schools from neglecting the remaining languages once the instrumental task of acquiring English language skills has been completed.39 While the Commission is still soliciting input as to how this policy will be carried out, the ambitions of the plan throw light onto the EU conception of what it means to wield a European identity. C. Minorin languages 1. What is a minorin language? Perhaps the best illustration of the schizophrenic nature of EU policy towards language is in the area of minority and regional languages. Minority languages are not those “small languages” within the EU, such as Finnish, which have a limited number of speakers, native or otherwise, and are therefore marginal. Minority languages are those existing as mother tongues among a sizeable population within the member states, but which are not the official languages of those particular member states. Frisian, Basque, Welsh and Catalan are among the more prominent languages falling under this rubric. The EU has realized that by failing to acknowledge and cultivate these languages the EU contributes to their continued marginalization. By dealing with member states solely through the official languages of the EU, the EU in effect props up that official language to the exclusion of the minority language. The curious effect of this commitment to multilingualism, when multiplied throughout all the EU, is to propagate monolingualism in each individual country by focusing on a national language.40 While there is no suggestion that all these minority and regional languages should be made official, there is a recognition that steps must be taken to preserve and strengthen these cultural and linguistic traditions. While the EU had already devoted a part of its resources towards promoting the develop- ment of official languages as vessels of domestic culture, this money funnels to the national governments. It is dubious whether they would take steps to support minority languages that effectively undermine the authority of the national languages, especially if they find it necessary to build up the national language vis-a—vis fellow EU national language competitors. France 258 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES does not even acknowledge the presence of any minority languages within the country because this would go against Article 2 of the Constitution that prohibits differentiation between citizens on the grounds of their origin, race or religion.41 What may not exist does not exist, so France does not contain any identifiable, self—contained minorities to whom any recognition could flow on the basis of their linguistic identity. What is required in response to such national policies as these are mea- sures that circumvent the arbitrary policy inclinations of the member states by dealing directly with language minorities at the regional level. Of course, such a policy itself can be faulted for being an arbitrary policy. Why is it that Finnish, a language with less than 5 million speakers, is considered an official language while Catalan, with 5-7 million speakers, will still be relegated to minority language status?42 The rubric of minority language is meant to delineate a relational status in which the language in question is a minority vis-a—vis a majority language within the state.43 However, if the EU is creating an entity within which all citizens are equal, why should national status matter? If limitations on the designation of official language rest upon consid- erations of efficiency, Occitan with its 95—12 million speakers44 should rank ahead of some of the smaller national languages. 2. The European Charter for Regional Languages A major initiative in this direction is the European Charter for Regional Languages of 1992, which creates a system of relationships between signatory countries and their constituent linguistic minorities. It stipulates rights of access to education, judicial/administrative authorities and public services, media, economic and social life, and cultural activities and facilities for speakers of such languages. Parties are required to submit written reports documenting their efforts, which are then reviewed by a committee of experts appointed by the Council. However, the Charter expressly does not specify which European languages correspond to the concept of regional or minority languages. While the explanatory report puts this down to the inability to conclusively decide at what level a language officially should be treated as regional or minority, it is probably also because, to entertain any hope of being signed, there would have to be a tacit silence which preserves the power to decide when measures may be appropriate in the hands of the member states. Even worded as it is, FranCe refused to sign."'5 At least this was based upon French honesty that, because they would not acknowledge the presence of minority languages, the point would be moot. It also highlights that the degree of protection the Charter provides is limited to the good graces of the member states in its application. For this reason it is difficult to attribute more than a symbolic effect to the document, especially since it is only an intergovernmental agreement and not actual Community law. THE ROLE or LANGUAGE 259 3. The Bureau for Lesser Used Languages A more effective measure for protecting minority languages is the Bureau for Lesser Used Languages within the European Community itself. Established in Dublin in 1982, the Bureau is primarily a distributor of funds to “worthy” cultural and educational projects that promote the development and retention of minority and regional languages. The Bureau is also responsible for study and research into the status of minority languages within the member states, and has adopted something of an ombudsman role for itself on behalf of these languages. At the Intergovernmental Conference of 1996, in Brussels, the Secretary General of the Bureau, Donall ‘0 Riagain, proposed several additions to the Maastricht Treaty to recognize and expand the rights of citizens of the Union in all their diversity and rich linguistic and cultural heritage. Moreover, he made a plea for a new Commission Green Paper discussing a European language policy. The effectiveness of the Bureau is limited by its modest budget, and the fact that though roughly 10% of all EU citizens speak regional or minority languages, they still receive substantially less financial support, proportionally, than those fortunate enough to speak an official language, who can take advantage of a plethora of programs.“ A further interesting role for the Bureau has been suggested. A point of friction between the EU and multiple languages is the principle of free move- ment, that has led to the development of laws and policies to prevent member states from framing measures having the same effect as quantitative restric- tions as provisions in which the state has a national interest. Health provisions such as the Bavarian Reinheitsgebot have been struck down for being little more than disguised import restrictions. At what point can language-based regulation and restrictions be challenged? Until now, the European Court of Justice has been careful to side with national laws, cautious of tampering with the linguistic and cultural integrity of the member states, even when these provisions appear to constitute restraints of trade.47 To ensure that the EU continues to give preference to the defense of its cultural and linguistic heritage, the Bureau could well be employed as an advisory body to the EU in the formulation and control of language policy vis-a-vis the interest of preserving the common market.48 4. Dissenting voices Not all EU commentators are convinced that the lesser languages even require protection. Is the lack of integrated EU language policy “supporting evidence for a view which questions the idea of language planning on the grounds that languages look after themselves?”49 Forcing speakers of minority languages to communicate in a foreign language places them at a disadvantage vis-a-vis someone operating in their native tongue, but they also gain a bargaining edge by having made the concession to work in that language. This is very much 260 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES a classical economics adage that “if you are buying, you do so in your own language, but if you are selling you will switch to the customer’s language”.5° However, this View does not take into account the psychological advantage gained by forcing someone to submit to the power of one’s language, nor does it appreciate that some markets may be so minor that it will not be worth learning their language to reach such a limited clientele. Another view — albeit one that envisions an active role for language plan- ning — which fails to predict further deterioration of minority languages with the development of a single lingua franca is Laitin’s 2V1, which he origin- ally developed in Language Repertoires. He feels that Europeans will need to be able to speak their national language and the lingua franca (English), as well as pessibly a local vernacular if it is distinct from the national language. English speakers can get by with only their mother tongue. He holds that minority languages will be strengthened through their dealings with the EU and its eurocrats. National bureaucrats seek to preserve their national languages’ official status in the face of English hegemony, but such support will only be forthcoming if the governments also promise to promote and protect vernaculars.51 Laitin utilizes rational choice theory to support the stability of the 2V1 structure, so one should note that this is a further commentator basing his argument upon liberal economic theory. Whether the market place truly can protect minorities as well as they believe is questionable. 5. Warning for the future The potential for minority languages problems is highlighted in the cases of Gaelic and Welsh. While Gaelic was important for Irish national feeling before independence, its role in society and politics has declined. Meanwhile, the revival of Welsh since the 1960s may be due to the fact that Wales is not politically independent If this is a valid correlation, it warns that the language issue will have to be treated with great care in a Europe where the member states are incrementally giving up larger chunks of their sovereignty.52 The continued recognition of national language privileges on the one hand, and support and cultivation of regional languages on the other hand, puts the EU in the dangerous and volatile position of not only taking away sovereignty from above, but facilitating the regions to slice it away from below. One can only hope that by allowing these two contrary policies to build up momentum, the Union is not setting the stage for domestic confrontations that it would be provoking itself. D. Immigrant language issues One of the relevant groups that have nevertheless been left out of the debate with regard to minority languages are immigrants from non-union third THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 261 countries. It is ironic that population influxes from former colonies and labor migration have produced colorful and multilingual societies in the very countries where the idea of the linguistically homogenous nation state originated.53 While EU law prohibits discrimination on the basis of language, and many educational initiatives are undertaken to promote national and minority languages, there is no mention of those immigrants whose mother tongue derives from outside of the EU. In the same way that there are more speakers of some minority languages than some official EC languages, there are 4 million Turkish speakers in Germany alone, and even greater numbers of Arabic speakers within the EU,54 but the language rights of these groups remains un-addressed by the policies and initiatives of the Union. Not only are these immigrants often relegated to the lower socioeconomic classes, but without proper language skills, immigrant children are often trapped in this cycle, with reduced opportunities for social mobility via higher education, which contributes to high rates of delinquency.55 The failure to properly address this problem has been aided by schol- arly attention toward indigenous minority languages to the detriment of immigrant languages. Though some commentators point to the difficulty in properly assessing the situation, as the language groups are not localized in one location,56 the real problem lies in the academic focus itself. In appre- hension of the loss of smaller EU languages if a lingua franca is chosen, commentators argue an inherent, equal value of all languages which is best be preserved through strong bilingual education programs. However, languages such as Turkish do not enter into the equation since Turkey is not an EU member.” Immigrant languages are not afforded access to the educational and cultural resources set aside for minority languages, nor are they protected from discriminatory practices under the Treaty. If the language policy of the EU is to retain a practical dimension beyond the mere ideological function it serves in promoting equality, future research should concentrate on the possi- bility of spreading out the social not so that it also covers those marginalized by the extra—EU origins of their language. V. Nation-building around the European Union A. Citizenship With the advent of the Amsterdam Treaty of 1996, the EU made clear its intention to expand the conception of the Union from one based upon an agreement between sovereign nations to one centered about the citizenship of individuals. Article 17 declares that every national of a member state also becomes a citizen of the Union. While the practical effect of this is limited to those rights conferred by the Treaty (i.e., freedom of movement 262 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES and the passive and active rights of voting in European Parliament elections), symbolically it signifies another step toward political union.58 Nationals of parties to international agreements or countries that are members of an international organization do not accrue citizenship rights. By invoking the language of citizenship, the EU is tipping its hand, exposing an intention to achieve a status that approximates actual statehood. However, constructing a European community as opposed to a mere common market requires a far more concerted attempt at changing people’s image of themselves, including their identity as nationals rather than European citizens. Another reason for creating a EurOpean citizenry is to make use of a common identity to over— come the problem of the EU’s democratic deficits9 The hope is that this would enable people in the member states to identify more with the EU and its institutions, which might assuage the Union’s self—perceived lack of authority and prestige.60 While this trend should not come as a great surprise to those who follow the development of the EU, it does open up the question whether the philosophy of the language policy currently pursued is appropriate to the formation of a state. B. Common European identity In its incremental advance toward statehood, the EU has engaged in behavior that has consciously paralleled the nation-building process in a number of respects. There has been a concerted effort toward cultivating a sense of European-mess or European identity among EU citizenry. The most overt vehicle for creating a common identity has been the drive toward drafting and enforcing pan-European standards in disparate fields from environmental provisions to workers rights. While the impetus behind such measures has been the desire to enhance efficiency by facilitating the freedom of movement for goods, people, services, and capital, it also has the effect of creating a greater feeling of commonality. The European Monetary Union is a good example of this dynamic. The purpose behind economic union is to be able to reduce transaction costs and allow for a greater control of fiscal policy within the EU, but it will certainly have the side effect of creating one more bond of collective identification. While this may not cut deeply into the identities of smaller nations who operate with multiple foreign currencies, it will be felt acutely by a country such as Germany that draws part of its post-war identity from its strong identification with the Deutschmark. While introduction of the Euro has not yet had this effect, once the individual national currencies are phased out and replaced by a single common currency, there is likely to be a substantial shift in conscious as well as subconscious identification from nation to supranational entity. Few visitors to Brussels can leave without feeling slightly nauseated at the number of umbrellas, bumper stickers, pins, t-shirts, etc. that are being THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 263 peddled with the twelve star logo of the EU boldly emblazoned upon them. While the EU works to solidify and subsidize the process of discrete nation- making,61 the aforementioned activities can hardly be termed as discrete. Subsidization of “European” contests and programs in the arts is a further overt attempt to foster a European image. However, it has been rejected that one can form new ideas about one’s identity through artificial methods with artificial time and content parameters. Language development, though manipulable, is highly organic, especially when there is a degree of freedom of decision on behalf of the public, as language planners in Africa frequently discover to their chagrin.62 Even with its highly coercive program, the cent— ralized projection of the Russian language on the SOViet republics did not have the desired effect of replacing the national languages.63 Similarly, the EU lacks the hundreds of years within which European nation-states were consolidated. In addition, it is attempting to create identifications at a time when the epic form of belonging, so popular before the devastation of the two great wars of the century, has become dubious as a viable political project.64 Therefore, what the EU needs to create is a European level of identity and authority functioning as a type of ‘organizational vessel’ that can contain nationalist sentiments While at the same time allowing for the enhanced expression regional identity.“ C. What is dzfierent about this European identity Instead of using the traditional nationalist or ethnic model of identity form- ation, the EU employs a civic one. This means that when people become Europeans, that identity no longer revolves around categories of religion, folk, or national defense. In the new Europe, the defining values are to center around exchange, difference and value.66 Crucial among these three values with respect to language policy, is difference, as it brings the element of diversity to the fore. In the last two centuries, linguistic minorities and ethnic groups in Europe have affirmed their particular identity and claimed their recognition in the political sphere in reaction to the dynamics of modern nation-building.’57 In the process of nation-building, language becomes a symbol of national belonging and a historical treasure that establishes it as a common denominator of its citizenry. The EU recognizes that since legit— imacy remains tied to the robustness of their languages, the member states are engaged in a permanent competition for linguistic dominance or survival.68 Following in the steps of the sociolinguists, there is confidence that it is not multilingualism but the attitudes of the speakers that determines whether divisions are created. Eager to avoid conflicts that emerge among linguistic groups in response to the new creation of the European citizen, the language policy pursued by the EU is built upon multiculturalism and multilingualism, thereby deviating in essential ways from the nation-state political form. 264 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES In a Europe buttressed upon individualism and freedom, there is a desire that citizens not be forced to abandon individuality in exchange for a new and homogenous intemationalityfi" This does not mean that there will not be a new international identity for the European of the future, but merely that it cannot be a homogenous one based upon a single hegemonic language or culture. In particular, such language conformity would send a bad signal to the former east bloc nations, intent on joining the EU and putting the oppres- sion of the Soviet years behind them. Having spent half of a century under political and cultural tyranny, the last thing they are prepared to accept is the continuation of this type of arrangement. The transnational development toward Europe as a single economic unit faces a fundamentally different historic situation than the old national language unification processes of the past.70 To actively participate in and benefit from the European Union, the new European identity is one that requires adequate command of multiple languages. Given that the role of the citizen has only been institutionalized at the level of the nation-state,71 what the Union is attempting is a radically different re- conception of identity. What this will require is an ability to adopt different identities and roles that do not compromise the others. As our understanding of identity-formation becomes more dynamic, there is room for discussion of multiple sources of identity that need not be seen as competing within a zero- sum game. This coexistence is possible as long as the space these loyalties and identity occupy is not identical and exclusive. For instance, Anderson believes the concept of the nation only had the necessary room to develop once the previously existing universal allegiance of the individual to the spir— itual realm had been eroded. With religion no longer capable of controlling every day life to the degree that it had throughout the middle ages, there was a vacuum in which national identities were able to gestate.72 The trick behind carrying out a successful program of European identification, or a successful language policy that facilitates communication without paying the price of strangling the smaller languages, will lie in making sure that identities and culture are not always viewed as being in competition with one another. Switzerland is often cited as an example of peaceful linguistic coexist- ence within Europe, but a more appropriate case of identity surviving absent cultivation of a single language is the case of Luxembourg — an actual EU member state. Here, the members of the community place a high value on maintenance of the minority vernacular as an element of group identity, but are also able to communicate in the more prevalent languages. French remains the most common spoken language, and most written works are in German, but Luxembourgish is not threatened in its existence by the fact that it is limited to certain spheres of life.73 This may be the model upon which the THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 265 new Europe is based. If Luxembourg expresses a confluence of languages and business also found within the common market, it should also be noted that here, national identity is hardly a source of aggressive nationalism. This should also be encouraging for the development of language policy within the EU as it attempts to foster the creation of an identity that is common, in that every member is European, but variable, in that individual members will have different cultural heritages and varying language repertoires. VI. Conclusion In the process of national identity creation, language has played as central a role in determining its nature as any other component. Language is the most visible aspect of culture, and as such language planning has an important political dimension, for it often determines who will be the haves and have- nots within a society. The EU is home to a vast array of indigenous languages, not to mention numerous immigrant languages. It has been the policy of the EU to acknowledge certain national languages as official languages, but this has resulted in a privileged status for these languages vis—a-vis the minority languages with which they cohabit. The EU has walked a policy tightrope where it has simultaneously supported national languages to prevent the hege- mony of a single language such as English, while it has also undermined those languages domestically by promoting their competitors within those countries — minority languages. This policy can only be understood when one examines the new model for European identity in which identity should be variable and multi-faceted, rooted in the ability to shift between languages both via multilingual facility as well as psychologically by not relying on a monolithic source of identity. What will hopefully emerge are new and tolerant Union citizens, capable of finding unity within their common diversities.74 Whether this will be a successful endeavor depends upon the skill of EU policy-makers in navigating the minefield between efficiency demands, member state insec- urities and the desire to protect speakers of minority languages. All this will have to be achieved without repeating the errors of past nationalisms that allowed “Others” to develop within the polity that are not part of the political and social process (i.e., immigrants). Let us hope that the EU’s optimism can also translate into success. Notes 1. Ernest Gellner, “On Nationalism,” in Nationalism, eds. Anthony Smith and John Hutchinson (NY: Oxford University Press, 1994), 57—62. 266 2. 3. 4. 9° 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 22. 24. 25. ALEXANDER CAVIEDES Adrian Hastings, The Construction of Nationhaod (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 21. Joshua Fishman, Language and Nationalism (Rowley, MA: Newbury House Publishers, 1972), 69. Florian Coulmas, “European Integration and the Idea of the National Language,” in A Language Policy for the European Community: Prospects anti Quandaries, ed. Florian Coulmas (New Yorlc Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 18. Bruno De Witte, "The Impact of European Community Rules on Linguistic Policies of the Member States,” in A Language Policy for the European Community: Prospects and Quandaries, ed. Florian Coulmas (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 163. Ayo Bambgbose, Language and the Nation: The Language Question in Sub-Saharan Africa (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1991), 14. Brian Weinstein, The Civic Tongue (NY: Longman, 1983), 37. David Laitin, Language Repertoires (NY: Cambridge University Press, 1992), 15. Robert L. Cooper, Language Planning and Social Change (NY: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 31—32. Eric Dacheux, Les strategies de communication persuasive dans i’Union eumpeene (Paris: Editions L’I-Iarmattan, 1994), 70. Thierry Fontenelle, “English and Multilingualism in the European Union," ZAA 47 (1999), 121. Konrad Schroder, “Dreisprachigkeit der Unionsbiirger — ein europiiischer Traum?” 24A 47 (1999), 155. Wilmya Zimmerman, “Die Zukunft der Sprachen in Europa: Zur Sprachenpolitik in der EU,” ZAA 47 (1999), 167. Carsten Quell, “Language Choice in Multilingual Institutions: A Case Study at the European Commission with Particular Reference to the Role of English, French, and German as Working Languages,” Multilingua 16 (1997), 63. J.A. Laponce, Languages and Their Territories (Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1987), 168. Marcel Machill, “Background to French Language Policy and Its Impact on the Media,” European Journal of Communication 12 (1997), 499. David Laitin, “The Cultural Identities of a European State,” Politics & Society 25 (1997), 288. Quell, 61,72. Abram De Swarm, “The Evolving European Language System: A Theory of Communi- cation Potential and Language Competition,” International Political Science Review 14 (1993), 246. . Quell, 71. 21. John Bomeman and Nick Fowler, “Europeanization,” Annual Review of Anthropology 26 (1997), 499. Schroder, 156. RE. Le Page, The National Language Question (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964), 9. Paul P. Gubbins, “Sense and Pense: An Alternative Language Policy for Europe,” in Language, Culture and Communication in Contemporary Europe, ed. Charlotte Hoffman (Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters Ltd, 1996), 124. Quell, 72. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. . Coulmas, 14. 41. 42. 43. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. S7. 58. 59. THE ROLE OF LANGUAGE 267 Miquel Reniu i Tresserras, “A Language Policy for Europe,” in Watching One ’s Tongue: Issues in Language Planning, ed. Mairead Nic Craith (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1996), 64. Dennis Ager, Language, Community and the State (Exeter: Intellect Books, 1997), 81. Arend Lijphart, Democracy in Plural Societies (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977). Matthias Koenig, “Cultural Diversity and Language Policy,” International Social Science Journal 51 (1999), 405. Zimmerman, 165. Cris Shore, “Inventing the ‘Peoples Europe’: Critical Approaches to European Community ‘Cultural Policy’,” Man (N.S.) 28 (1993), 787. Ernest Gellner, “On Nationalism,” in Nationalism, eds. Anthony Smith and John Hutchinson (NY: Oxford University Press, 1994), 56. Coulmas, 13. Gubbins, 126. Fontenelle, 123. Laitin 1997, 288-289. Schroder, 159. Joint Interpreting & Conference Service, “Multilingualism: The Key to Success,” SCIC multilingualism home page Online. December 1999. Coulmas, 16. Machill, 496. Gubbins, 126. Hartmut Haberland, “Reflections about Minority Languages in the European Community,” in A Language Policy for the European Community: Prospects and Quandaries, ed. Florian Coulrnas (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 182. Giulio Lepschy, “Le lingue degli europei,” in Storia d’Europa: Volume primo — L’Europa Oggi, eds. Anderson, Perry et al. (Turin, Italy: Giulio Einaudi, 1993), 893. Machill, 495. De Wine, 175. Laitin 1997, 289. Reniu i Tresserras, 65. Thomas Herbst, “11 + x = 1?” ZAA 47 (1999), IX. Nick Roche, “Multilingualism in European Community Meetings — a Pragmatic Approach,” in A Language Policy for the European Community: Prospects and Quondories, ed. Florian Coulmas (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 145. Laitin 1997, 298. Hetbst VIII. Coulmas, 27. Schroder, 156. John Edwards, Language and Disadvantage, 2nd ed. (London: Whurr Publishers Ltd., 1989), 126—127. Schroder, 156. Eric Beck, “Language Rights and Turkish Children in Germany,” Patterns of Prejudice (April 1999), 11. Neill Nugent, 17w Government and Politics of the European Union, 4th ed. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), 71. Shore, 786. 268 ALEXANDER CAVIEDES 60. Michael J. Baun, An Imperfect Union: The Maastricht Treaty and the New Politics of European Integration (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996), 145—146. 61. Bomeman and Fowler, 489. 62. Cooper, 59-62. 63. Harald Haarmann, “Language Politics and the European Identity,” in A Language Policy for the European Community: Prospects and Quandan‘es, ed. Florian Coulmas (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 108. 64. Michael Ignatieff, Blood and Belonging: Journeys into the New Nationalism (NY: The ‘ Noonday Press, 1993), 245. 65. Shore, 784. 66. Borneman and Fowler, 492. 67. Koenig, 402. 68. Bornema‘n and Fowler, 499. 69. Zimmerman, 165. 70. Konrad Ehlich, “Linguistic ‘Integration’ and ‘Identity’ ~ the Situation of Migrant Workers in the EC as a Challenge and Opportunity,” in A Language Policy for the European Community: Prospects and Quandaries, ed. Florian Coulmas (New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1991), 196. 71. Habermas J lirgen, “Citizenship and National Identity,” in The Nationalism Reader, eds. Omar Dahbour and Micheline R. Ishay (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press International, 1995), 337. 72. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1983), 23. 73. Stephen Barbour, “Language and National Identity in Europe; Theoretical and Prac- tical Problems,” in Language, Culture and Communication in Contemporary Europe, ed. Charlotte Hoffman (Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters Ltd., 1996), 40. 74. Paul James, Nation Formation: Towards a Theory of Abstract Community (London: Sage Publications, 1996), 145. Biographical note PhD. candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Spring 2003, will begin dissertation field research at the Freie Universitat, Berlin. Received JD. from the University of Florida (1993) and LL.M.eur from Universitat of the Saarland (1996). Practiced immigration law from 1997—99. Dissertation deals with comparative W. European labor immig- ration policy (Germany and the UK). Interests include Western European political economy and European Union politics generally, with particular concentration on labor immigration policies. ...
View Full Document

Page1 / 20

Caviedes - ' Dialectical Anthropology 27: 249—268, 2003....

This preview shows document pages 1 - 20. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online