The Single Voice of Multilingual Europe: Linguistic Globalization and Nationalist Ideologies

By Anil Biltoo.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores current attitudes towards English, using contemporary data from several member states of the European Union where English has become (or is the process of becoming) the most popular foreign language in terms of acquisition and in its use in high societal domains. Various sociolinguistic perspectives are adopted to account for how English has successfully consolidated its position as the chief language of interaction between speech communities that would not traditionally have employed it. An Ethnolinguistic Vitality approach is adopted to look at the power dynamics that operate both between speakers of different 'standard' languages and speakers of languages that, albeit officially recognized, lack societal prestige either in terms of an absence of an agreed 'standard' form or because of negative sociocultural associations. Other linguistics approaches are also considered: English is assessed vis-à-vis other European languages in terms of diglossic relationship and domain restriction. The paper attempts to establish to what extent the spread of English in Europe has impacted on how non-native speakers perceive the importance of minority languages that have, in some cases, been attested for hundreds of years and, in other cases, have been present in Europe since the period of decolonization and extensive migration. In effect, does the new Europe welcome multilingualism with languages that represent political and/or economic pre-eminence whilst actually disparaging the maintenance of languages that do not - or that are associated with migration?

Keywords: Nationalism, Prescriptivism, Standardization, Language and Dialect, National Unity, Unilingualism, Assimilation, Language Planning, Ethnolinguistic Vitality, Domain, Diglossia, Minorities, Migrant Communities, Social Exclusion

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 10, pp.69-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 551.475KB).

Dr. Anil Biltoo

Lecturer in English Language and Linguistics, Deanery of the Humanities, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool, England, UK

Dr Anil Biltoo was awarded a doctorate, in 2004, from the Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York, United Kingdom. His research interests include the study of language maintenance and language shift amongst diasporic groups, and the consequences of the globalization of English. He has given numerous conference papers in the United Kingdom, Mauritius and India and is currently engaged in the production of a work on the development of linguistic knowledge in the Enlightenment period. Since August 2002, he has been teaching at Liverpool Hope University, United Kingdom, where he was recruited to help develop a new subject area at undergraduate level(English Language) and is now in the process of developing new courses at postgraduate level (MA Humanities; MA Cultures & Identities). Dr Biltoo is a staunch advocate of interdisciplinarity within academic environments and strives, in his published work and in his teaching, to advocate the importance of studying linguistics in its wider sociocultural context.

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