Is absolute multilingualism maintainable? The language policy of the European Parliament and the threat of English as a lingua franca

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1 Ghent University Faculty of Arts and Philosophy The language policy of the European Parliament and the threat of English as a lingua franca Supervisor: Dr. Katrijn Maryns Paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master in de Taal- en Letterkunde: Nederlands - Engels by Caroline Bogaert

2 Preface For two years, I have been able to immerse myself in the language systems of the European institutions. Although I knew very little about the institutions and their functioning at first, I am happy that, because of this final dissertation, I have now gained in-depth knowledge in what appears to be an effervescent and almost magical secluded world. What might seem a dull and bureaucratic system, is actually a well-oiled machine that, without a doubt, is one of the world s most powerful democracies. How this grand system employing thousands of citizens from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds can function so effectively, gained my interest and compelled me to investigate this matter. The results of my research can be read below. The critique on Europe s multilingual system will never fade, but that does not mean that it should be forgotten what tremendous results this language regime has yielded in the past, and will keep doing so in the future. Writing a final dissertation has not always been an easy process and in that respect, it goes without saying that I would like to thank a few people who have helped me along the way. First and foremost, I would like to thank my supervisor, Dr. Maryns, who helped me explore this topic from different angles and who was always available to provide me with constructive criticism. Also, I owe much gratitude to each of my interviewees and the other practitioners who have shared their opinions on this topic with me: Mr. Coolegem, Mr. de Corte, Ms. Mamadouh, Ms. Pitt, Mr. Richter and Mr. Wooding. It is self-evident that without the help of the seven people mentioned above, I would not have been able to write this thesis. Lastly, I would also like to thank Geert Bogaert, Martine Declercq, Tina Bogaert, Godelieve De Latte and Kevin De Pril for their continuous support.

3 Table of Contents 1. Introduction Importance and purpose Research questions Outline and methodology Main sources and preliminary research The language system of the European Union The global language system of the EU Current language regime of the European Parliament The European Parliament: sui generis? Institutional framework for the European language policy: an overview Regulation 1/ Criticism on Regulation 1/ Controlled full multilingualism the Podestà report Controlled full multilingualism in the Code of Conduct DG Interpretation and DG Translation: units that guarantee multilingualism Directorate-General Interpretation Directorate-General Translation Future enlargements Turkey Croatia The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Iceland Montenegro The use of English in the EU English as a lingua franca Figures Competing languages as a lingua franca Consequences In the Union...27 i

4 3.2.1 Figures Competing languages as a lingua franca Why English? Consequences Artificial languages as a lingua franca Literature study: theoretical perspective Current debate: The more languages, the more English (de Swaan 2001) Acknowledgement of the problem The Union does not take the problem seriously Problems will arise in the future Lack of clear language policy Solutions offered Review of the multilingualism-system One single working language Limited number of working languages Is the debate exaggerated? Acknowledgement of the problem Solutions English or an international auxiliary language as a lingua franca Conclusion Interview data: the gap between theory and practice The context of the interviews Acknowledgement of the problem Solutions English or an international auxiliary language as a lingua franca Future perspectives Conclusion Discussion: future developments Different working languages English as a lingua franca...54 ii

5 6.3 Maintenance of controlled full multilingualism The European Union will further develop its diglossic language situation Concluding remarks Bibliography Appendices Interview with the head of the Directorate-General of translation Interview with the head of Unit for Multilingualism Interview with the head of the Directorate Interpretation Interview with a translator and a former interpreter Interview with a scholar who specialises in these matters Written document: Basic information on interpreting in the EP...98 iii

6 1. Introduction 1.1 Importance and purpose Multilingualism and the rise of English in European institutions is a widely debated topic. Whereas in academic circles it is argued that the quality of both the interpretation and the translation system has reached its limits, this statement is denied by practitioners from inside the system. However, with the upcoming enlargements and no clear boundary to the amount of countries that might join the Union in the future, the question of how the Parliament copes with these concerns, presents itself. Can the Parliament maintain its language regime of full multilingualism or is the English language becoming too important? This dissertation goes more deeply into this debate and the suggested solutions for this potential problem. Not only will this paper describe what the current state of affairs is, with regards to the future enlargement of the European Union (EU), it will also investigate what the current language policy of the European Parliament (EP) actually entails, and more precisely, to what extent contemporary practice corresponds to what the theory prescribes. Within the scope of this theory-versus-practice-dichotomy, I will try to find out if the increase of English usage in (the corridors of) the European Parliament, lies at the basis. For this, I will depart from Abram de Swaan s slogan the more languages, the more English! (2001: 144). De Swaan is a renowned Dutch political sociologist of language who investigates the importance of English as a global language, and links it to the number of languages that is spoken worldwide. Evidently, this is not a new phenomenon, but the need for one world language, an idea that gradually arose over the past couple of decades, is all the more a recent phenomenon. In the process of exploring de Swaan s theory, the ideas of David Crystal on the status of English as a lingua franca will also be looked into (Crystal 1999; Scholes 2010). I will apply both scholars line of thought to the setting of the European Parliament and its approaching enlargements. 1.2 Research questions Both de Swaan s and Crystal s ideas, combined with the findings of my preliminary research, have led me to the following research questions: Is multilingualism in the European Parliament maintainable and is it threatened by the increasing globalization of English as a lingua franca? And to what extent are both phenomena correlated to each other? In other 1

7 words, is the fear that English will become the sole working language of the European institutions justified and to what extent is this caused by an exaggerated and almost artificial sense of tenacity towards Europe s language diversity? This rather extensive research question can easily be divided into different components. Not only will the current language policy of the European Parliament be described and discussed, future enlargements of the EU and their consequences on a linguistic level will be handled as well. Furthermore, the concept of lingua franca and more particularly, English as a lingua franca, or the so-called globish will be explored and it will be linked to the findings of the academics mentioned here above and related research in the field of English as a global language. As a conclusion, I would then like to find out if there is indeed a connection between the increase of the usage of English and the enormous language diversity in the setting of the European Parliament. 1.3 Outline and methodology As outlined above, the current language system of the European Union and the European Parliament will be described in the next chapter. More particularly, the focus will be on how this system has involved over the last decennia. In the third chapter, departing from David Crystal s opinions on the matter, I will outline the use of English in the EU and how it acts as a lingua franca worldwide. Subsequently, the theoretical perspective on the debate will be looked into: de Swaan s theory and the opinions of other academics will be explored. In the same chapter, I will also investigate a more moderate take on the debate, based on the interview I conducted with Virginie Mamadouh, a scholar specialized in the language regime of the European institutions. In chapter four, the opinions of specialists on Europe s language policy will be described and I will present them with the criticism that is so often uttered with regard to the language policy of the Parliament: it is too expensive, limits have been reached and a solution needs to be found. The specialists I have chosen to interview in this framework are the head of the Directorate-General for Translation, Miss Janet Pitt, and the Head of Unit for Multilingualism and External Relations Service, Mr. Jochen Richter. The latter also used to be Deputy Head of Cabinet to the Commissioner for Multilingualism under the Barroso I Commission. Furthermore, I interviewed Mr. Sjef Coolegem, who is the Head of Directorate for Interpretation and, during my preliminary research, I interviewed Mr. Fred de Corte, who is a translator and former interpreter in the European Parliament. After a conclusion on the general tenor of these interviews, these findings will be juxtaposed to what the academic literature says about the matter, in chapter five. In the last but one chapter, I will discuss some 2

8 hypotheses for the future and what the consequence would be if each of these hypotheses would be carried into effect. After summarizing the results of study, a detailed overview of my final conclusions will be provided in the last chapter. 1.4 Main sources and preliminary research In my bachelor paper, future enlargements were investigated and how they would threaten the language policy of the European institutions, and more particularly, the functioning of the interpreting system of the European Parliament. As a conclusion, I found out that, although the Union considers multilingualism to be one of its key points, during the course of the years, the institutions had to adapt their initial idea of absolute multilingualism. The premise of absolute multilingualism, as it was laid down in the famous Regulation No. 1, which says that all languages of the European Union are to be treated as official languages, was perceived as not maintainable due to pragmatic, financial and structural complications. A growing body of opinion claims that a revision of both the translation and interpreting system is advisable, preferably taking into account the opinions of the linguistic staff and of academic scholars. Departing from the conclusions of this preliminary research, I will go more deeply into what renowned academics have said about the matter. My main primary sources are Virginie Mamadouh s articles on the matter and more particularly, her book De talen in het Europees Parlement (1995). Also de Swaan s book Words of the world. The global language system (2001) will form an important part of my reading and I will combine his opinions with the viewpoints of David Crystal (1999). Furthermore, the five interviews I conducted will also play a substantial role in my findings and they are elaborated upon in the fifth chapter. I will also make use of a written document sent to me by Martin Wooding 1, head of Unit of Support to Multilingualism. 3

9 2. The language system of the European Union 2.1 The global language system of the EU Although this paper deals with the language regime of the European Parliament in particular, it is useful to bear in mind that the communication in this institution is but a minor part of the communication in total in the Union. Moreover, it is self-evident that all communication in the Parliament is inextricably linked to the forms of communication in the entire Union. Abram de Swaan lists 4 levels of communication within the European Union, in his book Words of the world. The global language system (2001). The figure below gives a schematic overview of those levels: Internal communication of the Member States: official mother tongue language Transnational communication between Europe s citizens: English Civilian Society Formal, public communication: Regulation No. 1! Internal bureaucracy of the Institutions: number of working languages European institutions Figure 2: The different levels of communication within the European Union as a language constellation 4

10 Firstly, he makes a distinction between the civil society and the European institutions. The communication on the level of the civil society can be divided into two other levels, that of the national and the transnational level. The national constellations of languages in Europe are - simply put - the languages that are spoken within each member state. It is the mother tongue of most citizens in the country and it is widely used in all domains of the public life. In Europe, these languages are protected by the state and can therefore be called robust, as de Swaan puts it. They are not subject to great changes, but will instead become stronger in the future as they are seen as cherished national heritage. This is an important feature of the European languages, because it has as a consequence that, as opposed to certain African or Indian languages, they will never dissolve in other pidgin or mixed languages. Because of its robustness, competition between the languages is strong and leads to jealousy. As de Swaan puts it: Jealousy between the settled language groups that are supported by the member states, will always impede the introduction of one certain language as the only official language of the European Union (de Swaan 2002: 190, my translation). In other words, not only will English never threaten the existence and robustness of other (smaller) languages, it will almost certainly never be introduced as the sole official language in the Union. The other level of communication within Europe s civil society is the transnational communication among the citizens of the different member states, in different regions and in divergent spheres of communication. It almost always happens in English, but in certain areas, other languages still compete as a lingua franca with English. French can compete with English, mainly in the south of Europe and because of historical reasons. German competes with English in Central-Europe but mostly out of demographical reasons 2. Still, these languages disappear into nothingness, compared to the prevailing status of English as the medium for international communication. That has to do with both the prestige and the attractiveness of the language. It is the most important second language in education for the Union, and it has the highest score of centrality, as de Swaan puts it (2002: 196, my translation). That means that the percentage of multilingual speakers that have knowledge of English is the highest, compared to the total number of multilingual European citizens. Also, the issue of self-confidence, when speaking a certain language, is of importance. Not only do more people learn English than any other language in the Union, they also use with a lot more self-confidence (de Swaan 2002: 203, my translation). In short, English will remain the most dominant language in international (civil) communication, while French and German will keep competing for the second place on the list. 5

11 The third level of communication in the Union is that of the formal and public speech, which is a part of the communication on the level of the institutions, according to de Swaan. As already mentioned earlier, on this official level, institutional multilingualism is the rule. This institutional multilingualism might come across as part of the typical almost parish-pump bureaucracy of the Union, but the opposite is true. It is deeply rooted in the foundational documents of the Union and ensures equality between all member states, which is the basic requirement for democracy. Multilingualism is, in other words, intrinsically characteristic for the European Union. According to de Swaan, it is therefore highly unlikely that this idea of equal treatment of all member states will ever be abandoned. However, that does not mean that this idea is very well executed in practice. De Swaan explains that, because decisions with regards to the language policy need to be taken unanimously, a certain unbreakable cycle of voting occurs. The country whose language would be put at a disadvantage, would always exercise its veto. This causes a form of immobility and silence whenever the language-issue is raised. On the rare occasions when the European language issue is raised nevertheless, a cabal of experts in the relevant disciplines and of representatives of the affected interests will use the occasion for a high display of convictions and commitments, most of them as pious in their respect for the language rights of each and every party involved as they are pretentious in their ambitions for a grand scheme of European cultural rapprochement. The two do not go together (de Swaan 2001: 171). The fourth and final level of communication in the Union in de Swaans view is that of the bureaucracy in the European institutions. On this level, in several institutions, a certain number of working languages are used. Those languages are almost always English and to a lesser extent, French. Germany has always called for their language to be taken more seriously as a working language for several institutions, but despite this, French and especially English, are still much more used. In the Commission, knowledge of both languages is a prerequisite when applying for a function, and in 1991, more than 90% of the Commissions civil servants spoke English, and more than 70% spoke French. Only a mere 16% spoke German. In the Parliament, de Swaan mentions, is the rule of complete multilingualism not respected in daily practice: the lower the hierarchy and the more informal the meetings, the smaller the number of languages used (de Swaan 2002: 213, my translation). Also, in the Parliaments corridors, English or the Eurospeak-version of it is used. De Swaan also refers to franglais or frenglish, a mixture of English and French that is often spoken among the Members of Parliament and their assistants. 6

12 2.2 Current language regime of the European Parliament There is no doubt that language and equality between languages is one of the most important issues for the European Parliament. As mentioned in the introduction, the language policy is a hot issue for the Parliament. Now, more than ever, it seems as if the translation and/or interpretation system is on the verge of reaching its limits of capacity. However, when looking at the history of the Parliament, it seems as if it has overcome all of the problems that formed a threat in the past. As Ms. Mamadouh put it: Whenever there is a new enlargement, the same concern occurs. Each time, people say: This time, it won t work. And yet, every time they find a solution (interview with Mamadouh, March 22, 2011, my translation). In order to investigate whether or not the Parliament can hold on to its desired multilingualism, it is important to know what exactly the language policy of the European Parliament is and why this is such an important issue. In this section, I will briefly describe the nature of the European Parliament, and what sets it apart from the other European institutions. Afterwards, I will give an overview of the current language regime and how this has come about. And in the last part of this chapter, I will shortly describe which organs within the European Parliament, were set up to guarantee that the language regime of the Parliament is respected and preserved. Because I have already described (more thoroughly) the different parts of this chapter (especially the first and third part) in the bachelor paper I wrote, I will now handle these subjects only briefly. However, I would like to emphasize that clear and detailed knowledge of these subjects contributes to a better understanding of the research questions I will try to answer in this study The European Parliament: Sui generis? As I pointed out in my bachelor paper, the European Parliament is the only European institution in which the members are elected directly by the European citizens, every five years (Delegation of the European Union, 2009b). It represents the citizens of the different nations of the European Union and is seen as one of the world s most important democracies. Because the EP represents all of Europe s citizens, multilingualism is a vital property of this institution. Not only in the Parliament, but also in other European institutions, this institutional multilingualism is considered to be an absolute surplus value. As Mamadouh puts it in her book De talen in het Europees Parlement (1995): The advantages of the institutional multilingualism are clear: the equality among languages is safeguarded, thus also the equality between the cultures of the different 7

13 member states. This enhances the democracy within the European Union, especially because the relationship between the European institutions and citizens is facilitated (Mamadouh 1995: 14, my translation). However, - as mentioned above because the Parliament is a democracy and its members are elected directly, multilingualism is probably even more important here than in the other European institutions. Also, because of its democratic nature, the Parliament is obliged to guarantee Europe s citizens the freedom of speech. Each and every citizen of Europe has the right to write to Parliament with a question, to express [his or her] views, [and] to receive all public documents in their own language (European Parliament c). Only complete multilingualism can assure that these rights are respected at all times, simply because one cannot expect of common citizens that they express their needs in a language that is not their own. Other European institutions, by contrast, are not necessarily democratic by nature, and therefore have a different language policy. The European Commission only uses French, English and to a lesser extent, German, as working languages, though in formal and public occasions, full translation and interpretation services can be provided. This is in line with the Commission s official commitment to practicing full multilingualism in its external communications (Athanassiou 2006: 21). Nevertheless, it needs to be noted that the Commission s language regime just like the Parliament s language regime has been subject to criticism. Criticizers claim that the Commission s statements on its language regime are too vague and undefined (Athanassiou 2006). The European Court of Justice also upholds multilingualism, because it is a multinational institution. However, this multilingualism differs from the Parliament s multilingualism, because it is not carried out on an absolute or permanent basis. In practice, this means that the applicant can decide what the language of his or her case will be. Sometimes the language of the national court or tribunal which has requested the preliminary ruling will be used (Athanassiou 2006: 23). Also, the judges are allowed to use whatever language they want, and they can request translation in any language of every document. In spite of all these measurements, the internal deliberations will still be in French, because this is the language of the internal administration (Athanassiou 2006). The Council of the European Union represents the governments of each member, which means that it has to warrant absolute equality between the different member states and thus also between the different official languages. In order words, the Council is bound to 8

14 official multilingualism. However, Article 14, the article in which the language regime of the Council is laid down, also mentions that there is room for departure from the rules, if at least the Council unanimously agrees that a deviation from this full multilingualism is necessary. However, in practice this leads to the unofficial adoption of three working languages (English, French and to a lesser extent, German), in particular in the preparatory bodies of the Council (Athanassiou 2006) Institutional framework for the European language policy: an overview Giving an overview of the language policy of the European Parliament as such, - without handling an overview of the language policies of other major European institutions and their evolutions is like giving an incomplete version of the facts. However, because of the reasons mentioned above, it is not that difficult to consider the Parliament as an independent organ, completely isolated from other institutions, even though it started as the Common Assembly in 1952, a mere branch of the then European Coal and Steel Community. Nevertheless, because of the complex history of the EU and its institutions, I will, where relevant, frame my overview of the language policy of the Parliament against a wider discussion of the language policies in the entire Union Regulation 1/58 The most important document, with respect to the language policy of the European institutions, is the famous Regulation No It is still considered to be the founding document, on which the whole language regime of the EU is based. It was drawn up in 1958 by the European Economic Community (EEC), which was founded after the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 (interview with Richter, April 11, 2011). Although the term multilingualism is nowhere to be found in this document, hints of this idea are already clearly present. It determines that the languages of the member states 3 are the official languages and the working languages of the institutions of the Community. In Article 8 of this Regulation, it is laid down that it shall be binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States (Council of the European Union, 2007). In other words, the EEC, which later became the European Union, will always have to use the official languages of their member states as working languages. According to Mr. Richter, Head of Unit of multilingualism, it was partly because of Belgium that this Regulation was even drawn up. Before the Treaty of Rome, French was the 9

15 preponderant language in the internal system. After the predecessor of the European Union was established by the Treaty of Rome, it was almost self-evident that French would become la langue fait seul foi, which means that whenever there is any divergence in language, they would fall back to the French language version (interview with Richter, April 11, 2011). This would almost certainly result in French becoming the prevalent working language of the EEC, and perhaps later even of the Union. But, most likely because of its turbulent history with the French language, Belgium opposed to this state of affairs, and the famous Regulation No. 1 was drawn up, almost as to hush up the argument. Interestingly, it is this Regulation No. 1, which is now the deeper cause of Europe s multilingualism (interview with Richter, April 11, 2011) Criticism on Regulation 1/58 Nevertheless, this Regulation 1/58 was not spared the criticism. As Ms. Mamadouh puts it: [equality between languages] is a consequence of that vague regulation from 1958, that mentions that all languages are official languages and working languages, but what that exactly entails, no one knows (interview with Mamadouh, March 22, 2011, my translation). The second issue of the Legal Working Paper Series (2006), an initiative which stems from the European Central Bank, deals with multilingualism in the European Union. The author, Athanassiou, also criticizes the fact that national official languages are not taken into account in Regulation 1/58 and that there is no clear distinction between or a clear definition of, for that matter working languages or official languages (Athanassiou, 2006). If you interpret it literally, it can also mean that the working language should be one of the official languages, but not necessarily all 23 languages at once (interview with Mamadouh, March 22, 2011, my translation) Controlled full multilingualism the Podestà report On the 14 th of May 2003, the Parliament introduced the concept of controlled full multilingualism in its resolution. It was the Parliament s intention to specify this idea and they called on the Bureau 4 to come up with concrete proposals on how to lower costs, while preserving the equality between languages (Pozzo & Jacometti: 2006). About a month later, the Podestà report was presented to the Bureau. Pozzo and Jacometti (2006) state that the report proposed a great deal of budgetary measurements that could help prepare the Union for the mega-enlargement 5 in For the interpretation system, Podestà proposed (among other 10

16 things) the following: the establishment of a mixed system of interpreting, making use of all recognised techniques, on the basis of the effective requirements and availability of interpreters, [a] better spacing of committee meeting, an outline sketch of the linguistic profile for each Parliamentary committee, indicating the languages actually requested for its meetings,... (Pozzo & Jacometti 2006: 138) Also provided in the report, though less elaborate, were possible measurements for the translation system such as an increase in external translation and semi-automatic translation, [the] transitional use of pivot languages, also for translation and [the] lengthening of time-limits for sending documents for translation, or reduction of derogations (Pozzo & Jacometti 2006: 138) Controlled full multilingualism in the Code of Conduct The European Parliament officially approved of the concept of controlled full multilingualism and in the annual Code of Conduct on Multilingualism, that was adopted by the Bureau on 19 April 2004, it is stated that controlled full multilingualism represents the only means of keeping the costs of multilingualism within acceptable budgetary limits, whilst maintaining equality among Members and citizens (European Parliament 2004: 1). In practice, this controlled full multilingualism entails that for preparatory documents of certain meetings, full translation and interpretation in all 23 languages is not necessarily offered. Instead, linguistic profiles are established by, for instance, parliamentary committees, so that only the languages that are actually needed are used. Sometimes, the members of certain smaller meetings might themselves decide to use only one language, or a limited number of languages, for pragmatic reasons (European Parliament, 2007b). Mr. Coolegem explains it as follows: all languages [still] have equal rights, but efficiency and expediency are taken into account, while at the same time, not negating the rights of MEPs [Member of the Parliament] (interview with Coolegem, March 22, 2011, my translation) DG Interpretation and DG Translation: units that guarantee multilingualism Directorate-General Interpretation Given the promise to encourage multilingualism and to respect all languages in the Union, the interpretation system of the Parliament is one of the most complicated and expensive services offered by the European Union. It employs about 330 interpreters on a permanent basis, but can at busy moments make use of the (approximately) 2,800 freelance interpreters, also called 11

17 Auxiliary Conference Interpreters. These are paid on a daily basis and [...] account for about 50% of the total annual workload. [They] are recruited [...] according to quality, language combination and availability (written document by Wooding, March 21, 2011). About a third of the entire European Parliament expenditure is spent on translation and interpretation services (European Parliament, 2007b). The official website of the European Parliament reports that in 2005 the European Parliament disbursed 190 million for interpretation only. It was calculated that in 2008, the translation and interpretation services of all the EP institutions, cost about 2.5 per citizen (EPP Group, 2007; EUbusiness, 2009; European Parliament, 2007b; Hennigan, 2006). Interpretation is especially needed for the plenary sessions, during which full language coverage is provided. That means that everything is (as far as possible) fully interpreted into the 22 other languages, which results in 506 possible combinations 6. Each of the 23 different versions are recorded and kept in a public archive, to ensure the democratic rights of the European citizens. For other occasions, such as meetings of political groups, meetings of European Parliament committees and press conferences, interpretation is usually only provided in the languages that are required according to Martin Wooding, who is the Head of Unit for Support to Multilingualism (written document by Wooding, March 21, 2011). These measurements are part of the concept of controlled full multilingualism, which was introduced in 2004, after the mega-enlargement. They facilitate the interpreters working conditions and help to keep the costs low. Another measurement 7 with the same purpose is the relay system. When a certain language combination is not covered, the interpreters can make use of an intermediary step, the so-called relay or pivot-language. These languages are almost always English, French or German 8, and make it possible to indirectly interpret from certain languages into others, if an interpreter who speaks both languages, is not present. This kind of interpretation, via a relay language, often takes place when interpreters translate simultaneously (written document by Wooding, March 21, 2011). Simultaneous interpretation is the most frequently used form of interpretation in the Parliament. The interpreters sit in a sound-proof booth with a view on the meeting room, listen to the speech through a special headset and at the same time, translate it into a microphone. Another form of interpretation which is used in the Parliament is consecutive interpretation : interpreters listen to the speaker and afterwards interpret this speech 12

18 completely. This type of interpretation, however, is seldom used when more than two languages need to be interpreted from (written document by Wooding, March 21, 2011) Directorate-General Translation Differently from interpreters, translators have time and help at their disposal. In other words, they do not need to deliver the translated version of a text immediately on the spot and they very often can rely on technological means to help them translate and control the texts. The Parliament employs about 700 translators, and can, like the Directorate-General (DG) interpretation, rely on external translators if that is considered necessary. Furthermore, a tight collaboration with translation systems of the other institutions is often a solution as well. If the translators of the Parliament are too busy to translate a certain document, they might refer it to the translators of the Commission. The translators translate documents from the plenary sessions, decisions made by the Bureau, committee documents and documents from other political organs (European Parliament a; European Parliament b). Similarly to the DG interpretation, there are 506 possible language combinations via which translation can happen. Because of this large number, the translation system often works with relay or pivot-languages, usually English, French or German. The official website of the European Parliament, mentions that Italian, Polish or Spanish, being the three other major European languages, could be used as a relay language as well, if direct translation to one of the minor languages is impossible (European Parliament a). When the idea of controlled full multilingualism was developed, certain measurements that were proposed with regards to the DG Translation were taken into account. As Mr. de Corte points out, certain internal or administrative documents are no longer translated into all 23 languages, and everything that is not part of the legislation, is usually only translated into two or three languages. Also, the introduction of so-called lawyerlinguists is a fairly recent phenomenon. These lawyer-linguists form an extra layer of linguistic staff, who reread the translated versions of texts, both from a linguistic and a juridical perspective, to make sure that no mistakes were made, not linguistically, nor legally (interview with De Corte, May 14, 2010). Furthermore, it needs to be noted that the translation system of all the European institutions has been of great importance for the IT technology of automatic translation (interview with Richter, April 11, 2011). Not only do the translators have access to the Net at all times, they can also make use of the so-called translation memories. These translation 13

19 memories form part of a software program that stores texts and their translated versions. It is especially used for the Acquis Communautaire, of which, according to the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, all 23 translated versions form the biggest parallel corpus, in existence (European Commission, 2011c), not only because of the high number of languages, but also because of its size. Its functioning can be explained by comparing it to a big warehouse, as Mr. Richter explains: the translation memory is like an enormous warehouse that gathers words, sentences, paragraphs and even whole texts that have already been translated in the past. Whenever a text needs to be translated, an automatic system is going through this warehouse, to see if it finds [ ] parts of the texts in the target language (interview with Richter, April 11, 2011). If that is the case, then the system automatically translates these parts or sometimes lists possible options for certain words. The translator can concentrate then on those pieces of texts for which no suitable translation was found by the automatic system. Afterwards, he or she can verify whether the automatic translation was correct, or select the right equivalent from the various options that were listed by the system. 2.3 Future enlargements In my bachelor paper, I investigated how real a possible future enlargement was. At that time 9, candidate member states were Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Croatia. Potential candidate member states, those countries for which the negotiation procedure had not started yet, were Iceland, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. Nowadays, the map of candidate and potential candidate members looks quite differently: Figure 1: Candidate Members and Potential Candidate Members (European Commission, 2010b) 14

20 Potential candidate members are now: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Kosovo and Serbia. Apart from Turkey, the FYROM and Croatia, Iceland and Montenegro have also gained status of candidate member (European Commission, 2010b). In what follows, I will give a brief overview of what the joining of those five candidate members would entail and how it would influence the working of the interpretation and translation system of the Parliament. Also, I will look at how far advanced the process of negotiating is. Becoming member of the European Union means satisfying criteria on three different levels. These criteria are known as the criteria of Copenhagen and were set out in 1993 by the European Council in Copenhagen. The first level is of a political nature: the country has to have stable institutions and a stable legal order. It must respect human rights at all times and minorities need to be protected. The second criterion is an economic criterion declaring that only countries with a stable and functioning market economy can join. And thirdly, the criteria of Copenhagen declare that all candidate members have to adopt all the existing European rules (the Acquis Communautaire) in their own legislation 10. It must also be noted that, in theory, it is not the EU s aim to have the new member states completely adjusted to their own policy; the adjustments are supposed to be made in bilateral agreement and aim at having both parties gradually growing towards each other. However, in reality, it amounts to the member state conforming to the European conditions (Vos 2008: 85, my translation) Turkey In April 1987, Turkey stood itself up for a full membership of the European Union. In December 1999, the country was officially granted the status of candidate by the EU Helsinki Council and five years later, in October 2005, the accession negotiations with Turkey were formally opened. These negotiations entail that different so-called chapters 11 were opened and investigated. The policy of Turkey on these different chapters then needed to be made conform to the policy of the European Union. Since June 2010, the twelfth chapter (food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy) was open for negotiations. That means that in total, 12 out of 33 chapters are opened, but only one out of 33 has been closed (European Commission, 2010c). As to when Turkey will officially receive its status of Member is unknown, but according to several analysts, this will not happen before 2015 (European Commission, 2010c). 15

21 If the European Union decides to accept Turkey as a member state, several consequences regarding the language policy of the European Parliament will need to be considered. First of all, it would imply the assumption of a twenty-fourth official language, namely Turkish. Over 67 million native speakers of Turkish would become part of the European Union s language community (European Commission, 2006). Also, the Turkish alphabet would have to be accepted as a fourth official alphabet. However, this alphabet is so strongly Latin-based and therefore resembles the Latin alphabet very closely, that it might not be considered as a fourth separate alphabet. Besides Turkish, a considerable amount of the population uses Kurdish as the language of their communication, or other minority languages such as (dialects of) Arabic, Bosnian and Circassian (Lewis, 2009a). If these minority languages would be taken into account, by for instance the Intergroup for Traditional Minorities and Regional Languages, then the Arabic alphabet would have to be considered as well Croatia Having applied for full membership as well, Croatia needs to go through the same steps as Turkey. The Croats have been a candidate member since June 2004, after applying for this status in February In October 2005, the accession negotiations were opened. Currently, all 33 chapters are opened, and 28 out of 33 chapters have already been closed again, meaning that those subjects do not need further negotiation (European Commission, 2011a). It is remarkable how quickly the negotiation processes between Croatia and the EU develop and in 2007 the European Parliament even congratulated the country with its rapid progress (European Parliament, 2007a). On the sixteenth of February 2011, Members of the European Parliament released a resolution stating that the negotiations with Croatia might be wound up in the first half of this year (Montesquieu institute, 2011). The main problems that need to be solved, before Croatia can officially join the EU, are the lingering corruption in the country and the skepticism of its population towards the Union. Once these are resolved, Croatia can join the EU and would then be the second country, after Slovenia, of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to become member of the EU. The official language in Croatia is Croatian, a language that is spoken by 96.1% of the Croatian population (CIA, 2010). Several minority languages are spoken; 1% speaks Serbian, 2.9% speaks other and undesignated languages, including for instance Italian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak and German. If Croatia would become the twenty-eight member of the 16

22 European Union, then the speaker s community of the European official languages would enlarge with over 5 million speakers (Lewis, 2009a). Moreover, a new alphabet would have to be taken into consideration. The Gaj s Latin alphabet, however, is a variant of the Latin alphabet and only differs from it to such a small extent, that it might not be treated as a separate alphabet. This line of reasoning would only be consistent with the fact that the alphabets used for the Slovenian language and for the Czech language 12 are not considered to be different writing systems from the Latin alphabet either (Omniglot a) The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or the FYROM as it is often called in a European context, is one of the candidate member states for which negotiations have not started yet. Macedonia applied for membership in March 2004 and in December 2005, the European Council granted the country the status of candidate member (European Commission, 2010a). One of the problems that needs to be solved before negotiations can start is the so-called Macedonian-Greek conflict (Floudas, 1996). This conflict is a result of Greece s dissatisfaction with the constitutional name of their neighbouring country, namely the Republic of Macedonia. The Greeks fear that this would imply territorial claims, on behalf of the FYROM, over a province in Greece with the same name. Therefore, they refuse to acknowledge the nationality and the language of Macedonia as being Macedonian and they only want to recognise the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Balkan Business Insight, 2008). The language situation of Macedonia is a complex one, not only because of its numerous dialects, but also because of the political and socio-cultural connotations of the language. The CIA World Factbook states that 66.5% of the Macedonian population speaks the Macedonian language, the official language of the country. About a quarter of the population speaks Albanian and the rest of the Macedonians speak other minority languages, such as Turkish, Roma, Serbian, or another, unknown language (CIA, 2010). Macedonian closely resembles Bulgarian and they are mutual intelligible. It is also spoken in Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia; in the latter three countries it is recognised as a minority language. According to the Ethnologue website (Lewis, 2009a), the total number of speakers of Macedonian, is more than 2 million. However, because the language is called Slavic in Greece and is by some people in Bulgaria considered to be merely a Bulgarian dialect, it is difficult to establish the exact number of speakers of this language. The writing system, used 17

23 for this language, is an adaptation of the Cyrillic alphabet. As it is only a variant of the official Cyrillic alphabet, it probably would not be considered as a separate alphabet (Lewis, 2009a) Iceland Seeing as Iceland has already been a member of the European Free Trade Association since 1970, of the European Economic Area since 1994 and of the Schengen agreement since 2000, it was not considered a great surprise when they officially applied to become a member state on 16 July On the 27th of July, only a few days later, the European Council accepted the application and referred it to the European Commission, so that the latter could start its investigation on how ready Iceland was to join the Union. In February 2010, the Commission officially announced that it supported Iceland s accession, after which only the governments of the EU had to approve before the negotiations could start. In June 2010, at last, the Council officially opened the negotiations with Iceland, and about a month later, on 27 July 2010, the membership negotiations started, on the first intergovernmental conference (European Commission, 2010d). Ever since, the accession procedure has been a smooth one, compared to some of the other candidate member states application procedure. Surprisingly enough, Iceland has always been a euro-sceptical country, though after the financial crisis in the country in 2008, the population felt more positive towards a possible EU application, hoping that the adoption of the euro would lighten the burden of debt. However, after the eurocrisis on continental Europe, Iceland s scepticism towards the EU rose again, which might lead to a no-vote by the population in a referendum, if the national Parliament would decide to hold one (Seychell, 2009; BBC News, 2011). If Iceland joins the European Union, the national language of Iceland, namely Icelandic, would have to be added to the list of official EU languages. Icelandic is a Northern Germanic language, which is closest related to Faroese, spoken on the Faroe Islands. Unlike the other North Germanic languages, it is not mutually intelligible with the mainland Scandinavian 13 languages, such as Swedish, Danish or Norwegian. Neither is it mutually intelligible with that other insular Nordic language, namely Faroese. This unintelligibility is the result of major language evolutions over the past millennium, which influenced the Nordic languages but did not have any effect on Icelandic. The speakers of Icelandic are and always have been suspicious and rather negative towards linguistic influences from other languages, be it Latin, English or any other North Germanic language. That (partly) explains why, over a period of 11 centuries 14, Icelandic has barely changed and why it is considered to be the most 18

24 archaic language of all living Germanic languages. The alphabet is Latin-based with the addition of some extra letters, such as certain vowels with diacritics, the thorn (Þ) 15 and the eth (ð). It is spoken by about 320,000 speakers, the majority of which are inhabitants of Iceland. About 8,000 speakers of the Icelandic language live in Denmark, 5,000 speakers live in the USA, and 2,000 speakers live in Canada. The latter are not Icelandic emigrants, unlike the Icelandic speakers living in Denmark or the USA, but they stem from a community which was founded in 1875, by Icelandic settlers (Omniglot b; CIA, 2011; Lewis, 2009b; Icelander Tours; Gimli) Montenegro In December 2008, Montenegro applied to become a member of the European Union. Two years later, in December 2010, the European Council officially confirmed that they had granted Montenegro the status of candidate member state. However, the process of submitting its application to become a candidate member state in the first place, started long before December 2008 and did not come about without any obstacles. In October 2005, the EU started negotiating for a Stabilization and Association Agreement with what was then still Serbia and Montenegro. These negotiations were going to take place on the basis of a twintrack approach (European Commission, 2011b), but failed because the Serbian government did not commit itself to the fullest. They were interrupted in May 2006 and only a couple of days later a referendum was held by the Montenegrin Parliament on the independence of Montenegro. The majority of the voters voted for the independence and in June 2006, the Montenegrin Parliament officially declared the country to be independent from its confederation partner, Serbia. After that, the EU Council stated that they were willing to further develop relations with Montenegro and dealing with some bureaucratic formalities, Montenegro could officially apply to become a member of the EU in December No chapters have been opened or closed yet, which means that the negotiations have not started yet, but in a press release dating from March 2011, the Parliament stated that its members are happy with the decision of the Council to grant Montenegro the status of candidate member. However, they do feel that the country needs to proof its willingness to become a member of the EU, by tackling the corruption, the organized crime and the discrimination that is lingering in the country (European Commission, 2011b; Europees Parlement, 2011). Formerly being a part of ex-yugoslavia, the language situation of Montenegro like Macedonia s and Croatia s language situation is as complex as the history of the nation. 19

25 According to the CIA s World Factbook, about 5% of the population speaks Albanian, 8% speaks Bosnian and 12% speaks other minority languages such as Italian. The majority (60%) of Montenegro s population, however, speaks Serbian, which has been the official national language of Montenegro until 2007 (CIA, 2011b). In 2007, the Montenegrin language became the sole official language of this country, even though only about 22% of the population considers it to be their mother tongue. This Montenegrin language is a variant of the Serbo- Croatian language, which also serves as a basis for the standard Croatian language, the standard Serbian language and the standard Bosnian language. Each of these languages are mutually intelligible, and although there are several important grammatical and syntactical differences between them, all four languages were for a long period of time considered to be a common language. Nowadays, most academics still consider the languages of these Balkan states (such as Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro) to be variants of one and the same language, namely the lingua franca of former Yugoslavia. But several recent political developments in Montenegro (such as its desire to join the Union) have created the need to institutionalize its language, causing the start of a formal standardization process. However, more so than in Croatia or Macedonia, the whole language issue has been highly controversial. Montenegro is a very small state, and has only recently declared itself independent from big brother Serbia. It is considered to be the closest relative to Serbia, and therefore a great part of the population finds it hard to accept the Montenegrin language as their own separate language (Cvetkovic, 2009). 20

26 3. The use of English in the EU When exploring whether English forms a threat for Europe s multilingualism, it is of importance to have an overview on how advanced the spread of English actually is. In the next part, the concept of English as a lingua franca and how far the current state of affairs on this topic has advanced will be explained, both on a worldwide level (in the first part) as on the level of the European Union (in the second part). In the third part, more information will be given on artificial languages and whether they could ever perform the role of lingua franca in the Union. 3.1 English as a lingua franca In order to be able to fully grasp what the threat of English as a lingua franca for Europe s multilingualism entails, it is important that the concept is explained from different angles. Not only in the field of languages in general is it considered to be one of the hottest and most important issues, it is also perceived as a topic of major significance by and for the Union. In January 2011, a rapport was published by the European Commission, an initiative stemming from the Directorate-General for Translation. Given the fact that there is no escape from globalization, the Commission mentions that the phenomenon [ ] has acquired such dimensions that it cannot be ignored (European Commission, 2011d). According to this rapport, a lingua franca is a vehicular language that serves as a means for mutual understanding between several parties who do not share the same mother tongue. The lingua franca in question could be perceived as a neutral language for both parties, or as the mother tongue of either of the parties. In other words, when two or more people do not understand each other, they will search in their repertoire for a language that they have in common, and as already mentioned this will almost always be English. According to de Swaan, it is the hyper central language that connects the entire global language system. One can simply not ignore the overpowering, world-dominating role that the English language is playing today. [T]he hyper central position of English, as the pivot of the global language system, perpetuates, reinforces and spreads itself (de Swaan 2002: 229, my translation). However, particular aspects of the English language do not completely tally with certain features that are considered to be specific for a lingua franca. The study of the Commission mentions how a lingua franca is usually characterized by a simplified structure and by what is called non-territoriality. This means that it is a neutral language, which does 21

27 not belong to any territory. In its purest and original sense, it is supposed to serve as a socalled third space, a buffer space, as the Commission calls it, between two parties who do not understand each other, but who (are supposed to) live on equal footing (European Commission, 2011d). Juliane House, Professor Emerita of Applied Linguistics at Hamburg University, states that it is a language for communication, not a language for identification (House 2003: ) Figures On the 24th of February, Professor David Crystal gave a lecture on the Future of Englishes at Ghent University 16. One of his main issues, which forms a recurrent line of thoughts in his other lectures and articles on this matter, is that the exact number of English-speaking people in the world is unknown. Languages statistics are a primitive science. [...] And when it comes to global statistics, we are in the business of informed guesswork (Crystal 1999: 3). In other words, to give a complete and accurate description in numbers of how widely used the English language is, is impossible. Even if countries do count the number of learners or speakers of English, then usually they do not make the distinction between the different levels of English: only understanding the basics of a conversation in English, is not the same as being able to write fluently in the language. Nevertheless, as Crystal explained, people do feel the need to think in figures and numbers, so guesses about the exact number of Englishspeaking people, have been made. Those guesses almost always make a distinction between speakers of a language, who have it as a mother tongue, those who master it as a second language (ESL) and those who have learned it as a foreign language (EFL). According to the rapport that was published by the European Commission in January 2011, Ethnologue mentions 330 million native speakers of English, between 300 and 500 million speakers of English as a second language and between 500 million and 1 billion speakers of English as a foreign language. Only Mandarin Chinese is spoken by more mother tongue speakers than English, but for the other categories (ESL and EFL), English is the unbeatable number one. The most common way to present the relations between and numbers of these three categories is via Kachru s three circles. This figure gives a clear view of the polycentric way in which these dimensions are developing. 22

28 Figure 3: The three circles of English as conceived by Kachru (European Commission 2011d: 27) Kachru s inner circle lists the number of speakers who have English as their mother tongue, such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia. This circle is normproviding, which means that it is these countries and their inhabitants that set the correct norm. The outer circle contains those speakers who have English as a second language and who develop the norm, which means that they form their own varieties on the basis of the conflict between linguistic norm and linguistic behaviour which characterises these communities (European Commission 2011d: 27). The expanding circle is norm-dependent. They follow the norm as it is laid down by the inner circle and consider all deviations as mistakes. The number of speakers in this last circle is continuously expanding, while the number of speakers who are situated in the interior circle is gradually decreasing (European Commission, 2011d). However, this model has not been spared the criticism. Some say that it is outdated and cannot keep pace with the recent developments of the English language, such as influxes of immigrants. Also, it implies that the inner circle is the authoritarian circle that still exerts more power than the other circles (European Commission, 2011d). According to David Graddol, on the other hand, a new model should be implemented. The Directorate-General for Translation puts it as follows in his rapport: [...] [N]ative speakers have lost the right to control the language and should acknowledge that as ever increasing numbers of people learn English around the world, it is not just more of the same. There is a new model. English is no longer being learned as a 23

29 foreign language, in recognition of the hegemonic power of native English speakers (2011d: 19). It belongs to everybody and to nobody at the same time and no longer embodies a single culture, the Western Judaeo-Christian culture (European Commission 2011d: 29; Graddol 2006: 19, cited in European Commission 2011d: 29). In other words, English can no longer be seen as the mother tongue of certain populations that also happens to be a language that is spoken outside of these nations. On the contrary, English does no longer belong to the native speakers solely: it serves as a lingua franca, more often used for communication between non-native speakers than between native speakers, as is illustrated by the following chart. Figure 4: interaction between English-speaking people (European Commission 2011d: 29) Competing languages as a lingua franca According to David Crystal, the only cause for a language to become a global language is the power and prestige of the nations who speak the language. For the case of English, Crystal means both the political and military power, which has for a long time been under the control of the British Empire. Also, the Industrial Revolution had its influences, because it took place mainly in English, which again served as power for the language in the field of sciences and technology. English as a language also has a certain form of economic power (the pound and 24