From ‘Nationalistic Monolingualism’ to ‘Hegemonic Multilingualism’? Media, Language Ideologies and the EU Enlargement

Michal Krzyzanowski, Ruth Wodak

Lancaster University, UK

WS153: Constructing Multilingual Europe? Micro and Macro Perspectives

The paper is based on a pilot study undertaken within a research project on ‘Language Dynamics and Management of Diversity’ (‘DYLAN’, EU-FP6). The study analyses the reporting on the ‘first wave’ of recent EU Enlargement (May 1st, 2004) in liberal and conservative press in France, Germany, Poland and the UK. In the study, we analyse media perceptions of multilingualism and linguistic diversity in order to see how/inasmuch the national public spheres perceived and conceived of enlarging Europe/EU from the perspective of language choice and multilingualism. Our analysis also helps discovering which Europe/EU-related language ideologies were transmitted to the national publics by their media ‘on the back’ of reporting on the 2004 EU Enlargement. As will be presented, the analysed media texts were sites of production of diverse language ideologies which ranged from a Europe-specific ‘nationalistic monolingualism’ to that of a strictly EU-institutional ‘hegemonic multilingualism’.

Our analysis of diverse language ideologies points to the immense discrepancy which was discursively constructed between, on the one hand, descriptions of languages and multilingualism as the positive (though clearly limited and folklore-like) elements of the European cultural space and, on the other hand, the rather negative perception of the increasing multilingualism of the EU institutions. As we claim, that discrepancy was neither arbitrary nor accidental: while ‘allowing’ for linguistic diversity (and the resulting multiplicity of visions and ideas of Europe) was permitted in the context of the EU Enlargement in the vaguely-defined, broad area of the European space, it was not allowed in the area of EU-institutions (and politics) where the actual political interests/visions were realised and negotiated. Thus, we argue, our analysis also shows that nationally-driven public spheres approached through the media did not allow for the ‘mirroring’ of Europe’s (also linguistic) diversity in the communicative and political space of the EU institutions. That was, in turn, influential for the fact that the broad European public could not see the EU institutions as inherently multilingual (i.e. not as actually reflecting the linguistically enlarging EU-rope outside Brussels) since the media did not forge any public-wide expectations towards linguistic and otherwise-understood (e.g. political) diversity within the EU institutions.

Friday, April 4, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 18