Language policy and use in multilingual banks in Luxembourg

Leilarna Elizabeth Kingsley

Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

WS155: Renegotiating language policies and practices: multilingual Luxembourg in late modernity

For decades the primary focus of language policy research has been large-scale activities by states and their agencies, while small-scale policy activities have been studied only to a limited extent. Addressing this gap, this paper describes research which investigates language policies in financial institutions in the multilingual context of Luxembourg. Multilingual financial institutions operate in the globalised context of international banking under strict banking secrecy laws and represent an interesting focal point for investigating explicit and implicit aspects of policy at a micro-level in the globalising world.

The goals of the research are to explore language policy, language practices and language beliefs in financial institutions in Luxembourg in order to investigate the extent to which language practices correspond to language policy. Shohamy’s (1996) theoretical framework is adopted and extended to the workplace context in order to examine the explicit and implicit dimensions of language policy, which are intricately linked with language practices and beliefs. The data base for the study includes a first phase of interviews with managers in ten banks regarding language policy, followed by a second phase of questionnaires and focus-group discussions with employees of three of these banks regarding language use and beliefs.

This paper describes the extent to which Luxembourg banks make use of institutional mechanisms to manage social interaction, and examines their influence on implicit language policy. The reported language use practices of linguistically and culturally diverse workforces are investigated, alongside top-down and bottom-up beliefs about policy and language use. The three case studies provide insights into the complex nature of language policy and the processes and forces which operate in the micro setting of the workplace, thus contributing to research on micro dimensions of social life in the multilingual and international context of the state of Luxembourg.


Shohamy, (2006) Language Policy-Hidden agendas and new approaches. Abingdon, England. Routledge.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
Renegotiating language policies and practices: multilingual Luxembourg in late modernity
Friday, April 4, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 08