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Daring to speak out on multilingualism (EuropeanVoice.com)

Last Updated: 4 Oct 2012

By Tim King, September 4th 2012

Heretical thoughts about the use and teaching of languages.

Not for the first time, I found myself out of step with official European Union thinking last week. At a conference on European language policy organised by the European Commission, I ventured a few heretical remarks – and the guardians of orthodoxy frowned disapprovingly.

By the end of the conference, I was persuaded that the Commission is wrong to bundle two different things under the label of ‘multilingualism'. The Council of Europe, by contrast, draws a helpful distinction between ‘plurilingualism' – an individual speaking more than one language – and ‘multilingualism' – a country, an institution or a body using more than one language. The two are not the same: the argument for multilingualism in the European Parliament, for instance, is that it caters for an absence of plurilingualism (ie, most citizens and some MEPs are monoglots).

I started ruffling feathers by daring to cast doubt on the Commission's professed commitment to what it calls multilingualism. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>