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The Role of Language in Nation-Building within the European Union.

  • Academic Journal
  • Dialectical Anthropology; 2003, Vol. 27 Issue 3/4, p249-268, 20p
  • 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-à-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 multi-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 modern 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. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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