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Vlado Suac

University of Zadar

EUROPEAN LANGUAGE
POLICY BETWEEN
THEORY AND PRACTICE

What is a language?
A system for encoding and decoding
information (verbal language, sign
language, animal language)
Language vs dialect
Linguistic or political criteria?
purely linguistic: dialect continuum
political-historical: standard languages

Dialect Continua of Europe


dialect continuum: a continuous
range of dialects across a large
geographical area without
defineable inner boundaries:
-West Romance
-West Germanic
- Scandinavian
-South Slavic
-North Slavic

Languages in Europe
Language is a dialect
with an army and a navy

Language Identity
intelligibility criterion:
2 Scandinavian languages (Continental, Insular)
3 South Slavic languages (West, Central, East)

political and historical criterion:


6 Scandinavian languages:
Swedish, two standards of Norwegian, Danish
Icelandic, Faroese

7 South Slavic languages:


Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrian,
Macedonian, Bulgarian

Kinds of Languages
State Languages
Languages having an official status throughout a country. State languages are always
official languages.
Official Languages
Languages used for legal and public administration purposes within a specified area of a
country or reaching over the whole state, such as Catalan in Spain.
Regional/Minority Languages
Languages traditionally used by part of the population of a state that are not dialects,
artificially created or migrant languages, such as
Languages that are specific to a region like Breton in France
Languages that are spoken by a minority in a state but are official languages in
other, usually bordering, country such as Hungarian in Slovakia
Non-territorial languages such as Yiddish and the language of Romani people
Non-indigenous languages
Languages from other parts of the world spoken by immigrant communities in the EU
such as Turkish in Germany or Indian languages in the United Kingdom

European Language Policy


directed by two main political
institutions:
Council of Europe (Common European
Framework of Reference for Languages:
Learning, teaching, assessment, 2001)
European Union

EU language policy - legal


basis
Fundamentals:
TREATY OF ROME(1958)
All languages are equally authentic (Art.314)
Citizens have a right to address the official EU bodies in any of the EUs
official languages and to receive a reply in that language (Art.21)

Council Regulation No 1 of 15/04/1958


Regulations and other documents of general application shall be
drafted in the official languages.
Option for EU institutions to stipulate languages to be used

THE CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF THE UNION (2000)


Any discrimination based on language, shall be prohibited (Art.21)
The Union shall respect cultural, religious and linguistic diversity
(Art.22)

EU language policy - legal


basis
Recent developments:
-The European Year of Languages
2001 (unity in diversity)
A new framework strategy for
multilingualism (2005)-main objective:
multilingualism : a persons ability to use
several languages (mother tongue plus two
languages )and the co-existence of different
language communities in one geographical
area.

Present situation
The European Union has 23 official
and working languages:
Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch,
English, Estonian, Finnish, French,
German, Greek, Hungarian, Irish,
Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Maltese,
Polish, Portuguese, Romanian,
Slovak, Slovene, Spanish and
Swedish.

Mission impossible?
23 languages = 506 language
combinations

33 languages = 1 056 language


combinations

Translating at the Commission


From which languages?
1992
Number of translated
pages
Of which: freelance

2007

914 649 1 762 773


12%

English originals

35%

French originals

47%

German originals

6%

3%

Other EU languages

9%

13%

The costs of translation &


interpretation
800 million for 2007 for translation
(all institutions included).
302 million for the Commission
195 million for interpretation

= 2,5euros/citizen/year
(Less than 1% of the whole EU
budget)

Croatian as 24th official language of


the EU?
Sporadic pleading for the BCS (ICTY model)
cost reduction?
EU practice: each country, before it joined,
stipulated which language it wanted to have
used as an official language for EU purposes.
The agreement on this matter is then recorded
in the Act of Accession.
The European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO)
has already recruited Croatian language
interpreters, translators, and lawyer linguist for
work in EU institutions

EUROBAROMETER 2006 STATISTICS ON


MULTILINGUALISM

Support for Principles

CONCLUSIONS

Europeans have reasonably good language skills


56% of Europeans speak a language other than their mother
tongue;
28% of respondents master two foreign languages;
44% of EU citizens admit to not knowing any other languages
than their native language;
Good language skills are perceived in relatively small Member
States with
several state languages, lesser used native languages or
language exchange with neighbouring countries;
Those who live in southern European countries or countries
where one of the major European languages is a state language
appear to have moderate language skills;
Over half of the respondents consider that the level of their
language skills
is better than basic. This is the case for 69% speaking English,
59% knowing German, 56% speaking Russian, 54% knowing
French and 52% mastering Spanish;
A multilingual European is likely to be young, well-educated or

Leap/Europe 2020 anticipations


on language situation in Europe
2025
Leap /E2020 ( European Laboratory of Political
Anticipation) is an independent think tank established to
analyze and anticipate global economic developments
from a European perspective and to publish a paidsubscription monthly economic forecast bulletin
five key factors that will shape the linguistic face of the
European Union in a generation from now:
1. The great return of German
2. The revival of French
3. The end of English (Anglo-American) as the hegemonic
language of modernity
4. The entry of Russian into Europe's linguistic purgatory
5. The growth of Spanish as an international language

THANK YOU!