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LANGUAGE, POWER AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: THE CASE OF ENGLISH IN THE EU

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Author(s): MARIA LUZ SUAREZ CASTINEIRA

Journal: Challenges of the Knowledge Society
ISSN 2068-7796

Volume: 3;
Issue: -;
Start page: 1096;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Globalization | regionalization | international relations | soft power | lingua franca | language policies

ABSTRACT
Though generally overlooked, the language question is at the core of International Relations studies: it is associated with power in general and with the concept of “soft power”1 in particular. Indeed, language cannot be considered as just an instrument of communication. In the context of the Nation State as well as in the context of the EU and International Relations in general, it has a strong symbolic value. At the level of the EU and its institutions, the linguistic governance is a very technical and political debate. On the one hand, the European institutions have been promoting multilingualism as crucial for social and political inclusion, but, on the other, English has imposed itself as the main lingua franca. Despite the affirmation of the official character of all national official languages, the EU has never clearly addressed the challenge we are facing. The main focus of this presentation is on whether in the context of regionalization and globalization, English can be stopped from being used as the main lingua franca. First the EU language reality and doctrines will be addressed. Then we shall consider the unbalance of power and the role of English in the EU and worldwide on the basis of several theoretical debates, and finally we shall conclude addressing future challenges.

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