Saturday, May 28, 2011

Language, Culture and Policy

A pair of posts on language in Europe offer the latest on one of the less purely political (but nonetheless, structural) elements of EU integration. One defends French language, lamenting its diminution and the negative effect this has on francophone clout in EU affairs:

"The choice of language has wide repercussions... If a meeting is held solely in English, the follow-up report must be written in near-perfect English and so the responsibility will go, he says, to an English-speaking expert rather than a French-speaking one. Or had it been agreed that the European patent would only be in English (as opposed to English, French and German, as is currently proposed), the influence of a British approach and English jurisdiction would have been greater..."

Also see a recent video interview from Presseurop of Androulla Vassiliou, the EU Commissioner for Education, Culture and Multilingualism (how different these Europeans are -- the US government would never budget for a "language tsar" of any iteration.) In contrast with the first speaker above, Vassiliou seems to suggest that one should not take on a stiff resistance to learning other languages, because language learning constitutes "learning the culture of others" and serves as a "very good means of communication," as well as the considerable economic implications of language, and culture more broadly, within EU economic affairs. Vassiliou claims that the European cultural products sector (television, film, etc.) grosses more than the European auto industry... Can anyone verify this?