The seven families of opponents of a common language in Europe

Fourth-year student at Sciences Po Lyon Founding member of Europa Lingua Franco-British European convinced.
The seven families of opponents of a common language in Europe Posted on 4 July, 2018Leave a Comment
Fourth-year student at Sciences Po Lyon Founding member of Europa Lingua Franco-British European convinced.

The Europa Lingua project is to promote the setting up of a common language in Europe. Prejudices are numerous and have hard skin, so our main obstacle is the absence of this issue in the public debate. Our work as a think tank is to produce and disseminate knowledge, in order to convince the vast majority of the population who ignore or oppose a common language in Europe.
We have therefore attempted to consolidate these antagonisms into seven families:

1. Native English speakers

They take advantage of the enormous advantage they have of the hegemony of their language in Europe, so they have no personal interest in a common language being put in place. Nevertheless, for political and cultural Europe to develop, Europeans must go beyond the individualist logic to adopt that of the common good.

2. The sovereignists

The Europe of Nations is an old idea that still dominates Europe and the sovereignists are legion in the political life of the great countries of the continent.
They thus support a nationalist policy in Europe and believe that the language of their country can still be imposed as lingua franca.

These ideas have had a second breath with the Brexit, for the hegemony of English is doomed to be challenged by this political upheaval. The growing competition between Great Britain and the greats of Europe, especially France and Germany. It is therefore not surprising that articles on the return of French, German and even Latin in the European institutions emerge in the national media.

Again, the common good is set aside for the benefit of a country and this logic is a hindrance to the development of the Union.

3. The champions of the "English LV2"

It was the non-native anglophones who spent a substantial time learning English. They do not want to give up the advantage of their investment in the learning of the hegemonic language, especially in the labour market.

The mastery of English is a considerable asset that is an integral part of the curriculum of the major schools and professional training. But this state of affairs leads to inequalities in communicating with the rest of the population who cannot afford to invest in English. Communication in Europe must be egalitarian, and we are not the ones who say it but the European Union.

4. Lawyers for Multilingualism

They are eminent linguists, translators, or simply polyglots and cite at all VA Umberto Eco: "The language of the European Union is translation". The European Union also defends this principle since it promotes a language policy that promotes the learning of two mother tongues. Deference kept to these language bosses, but we think they are putting their finger in the eye.

Indeed, multilingualism is a beautiful idea... In principle: It is egalitarian and celebrates multiculturalism, but it is absolutely not effective since in the end it is English that dominates the debates. The current multilingualism of the European Union is tantamount to conforting the hegemony of a language and a culture, on the rest of Europe.

5. Lazy Technophiles

Another argument in vogue for some years: "The future of communication is instant translation!". They anticipate the technological progress of artificial intelligences that would allow an immediate translation on a mobile device without making any effort.

There are two major problems in this scenario:
First of all, it is based on anticipation. We cannot pray for the technological miracle to save Europe. The stakes are too important to base the future of the European Union on a hypothesis.
Then the translation allows a simple exchange of information, it does not allow the approximation that induces a language. We should not need an interface to be able to communicate, we also need common references that the common language allows. Language is the common denominator of any culture, it creates a common conception of the world.

We need an initiative, a movement, a fresh wind for Europe. We do not need to wait for the technological or economic miracle to revive political and cultural union.

6. Pragmatics to the end of the nails

"Esperanto has failed, what is the point of trying", "It's utopian", "it looks good, but it's impossible". We prefer the quotation of our very Lyon Edouard Herriot: "A utopia is a reality in power". Or to quote a popular saying to Europa Lingua:
: "Any ambitious idea is first considered insane, then dangerous and finally obvious".

We do not base our ambitions solely on the idea of a better future, we are convinced to have arguments for a common language. From a very pragmatic point of view, a common language misleads substantial economic benefits and considerable political progress.
Our objective may seem wacky, but this state of affairs is not linked to its intrinsic ambitions but plutôot to the media and political silence around the issue.
Our goal as a think tank is to produce and group knowledge so that the idea of a common language is known to the public.

7. The vast majority who ignore the question or are resigned to the hegemony of English

It is enough to take a look at the white Paper of the European Union, which has the function of determining the stakes of the future of Europe and in which the subject of language is not mentioned anywhere, in order to realise the general lack of interest in the matter. This is largely linked to the lack of information and actors on the subject, and we have the ambition to revive this debate.

So our approach is obviously not to guilt the families of opponents, but to try to inform the public about the situation, and change the mindsets so that one adopts a logic of the common good.
To take my example on the Europa Lingua team, I had never been interested in the question of the European language before working for the think tank. Being half British, I had every interest in retaining the advantage of English in many areas. Nevertheless, I have been convinced of the virtues of the project and I sincerely believe that the future of Europe could go through a project of this kind. In order for Europe to move forward, we must forget the short-term and individualistic logics: Europe is an ambitious project, and we should also start to become one.

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Fourth-year student at Sciences Po Lyon Founding member of Europa Lingua Franco-British European convinced.

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