The Language Question in Europe and Diverse Societies
Recent developments in the European integration process have raised, amongst many things, the issue of linguistic diversity. This is regarded by some as a stumbling block to the creation and sustainability of a European democratic polity and to the fair working of its legal and social institutions. The 'question of language,' in this sense, concerns the nature and role of public communication and public discourse, both as sources of information and understanding, and as modes of legitimacy in law and politics. Its solution involves an understanding of the role played by natural languages as the main forms of social communication, and the consequent design of policies and institutional mechanisms, which may facilitate inter-linguistic and intercultural communication. Put in this way, this is not an exclusively European problem. Nor is it an entirely new problem, for it also presents itself in the form of the relationship between linguistic majorities and minorities within what are traditionally considered as unitary nation-states. However, the effects of globalization and the diffusion of multiculturalism within nation-states have given renewed emphasis to the question of language in diverse societies. Facing the question anew involves a reconsideration of traditional ideas about social communication and the public sphere, about opinion-formation and diffusion, about the protection of cultural and linguistic minorities, and about the role that language has in the process of formation of political and legal cultures. This volume is a multidisciplinary contribution towards studying and assessing the range of problems that form the 'language question' in Europe and diverse societies.
Publication Date: 3/1/2007