In 1919, after many debates, the British Prime Minister David Lloyd George concluded that the Versailles treaty would be written both in French and English. Since then, English has imposed itself in diplomacy, economic exchanges, Medias and so on. Nowadays, it seems that this language has gained a very important role. Despite this general tendency of the spread of English, the European Union has instituted a policy of linguistic diversity and refused to choose one language or another in the work of its institutions. The introduction of the Laeken Declaration illustrates this will: At long last, Europe is on its way to becoming one big family, without bloodshed, a real transformation...a continent of humane values, of liberty, solidarity and above all diversity, meaning respect for others' cultures, languages and traditions . There are now twenty-three languages recognized by the European Union. There is even a European commissioner devoted to multilingualism (Leonard Orban).
[...] Therefore, the unification of language, useful in the process of building a Nation State, would not be coherent with EU's goals. Linguistic diversity can then be considered as a motor for the EU The modern idea of Europe since Kant is the idea of cosmopolitanism. Thus, languages have to remain diverse in the EU. In fact, the European construction does not function like the unification process of a Nation State. The EU has historically built itself as an association of Free States on the basis of their voluntary agreement. [...]
[...] We could have naively affirmed that linguistic diversity is strength or a threat in itself. It is not the case. A unique language is to be avoided in the EU because it would not make sense culturally. Moreover, a unique language could imply a “linguicide”. There would be the risk of the establishment of an empowered language that would be a simple tool of communication without reflecting a rich cultural background. At its most, this process could lead to a form of the “Newspeak” described by George Orwell. [...]
[...] Or, on the contrary, does linguistic diversity stand in the way of the European integration? We will explain the danger represented by a potential uniformisation of language. Then, we will examine the problems that might be caused by an excessive protection of languages' purity and the babelization of Europe. This will lead us to evaluate the linguistic policy implemented by the EU and to draw perspectives for its future. I. Preserving the European linguistic diversity is a duty in order to avoid a process of language losing its cultural dimension and becoming a simple tool of communication As many philosophers have noticed, every language is not only a tool of communication, but also a tool of identification. [...]
[...] What is frightening about the uniformisation of language is then that it might destroy ways of thinking, and even reduce the possibilities offered to human beings to think in diverse ways. The uniformisation of language could lead to the adoption of words that would not be used to think, but only to communicate. It could lead to the adoption of an empowered ready made language. The English language itself a cultural language, used in master plays and major philosophical and literary writings should not be accused of representing a threat. [...]
[...] Moreover, in order to avoid linguistic diversity to lead to a babelization of Europe, with people not understanding each others and nationalisms being revived, leaders of the EU should continue to encourage strongly initiatives they have launched in the education sector. In fact, though the EU has very limited influence in this area as the content of educational systems is the responsibility of individual member states, a number of EU funding programs already actively promote language learning. EU encourages all its citizens to be multilingual; specifically, it encourages them to be able to speak two languages in addition to their mother tongue. [...]
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