Our physical world is polluted with dangerous chemicals, but our language, too, suffers its own kind of pollution.
Everyone is society is affected by language and communication in some way or other, no more so than Europeans.
So lets ask a few questions;
The Treaty of Rome in 1957 founded what is now the European Union, and was supposed to be the beginning of the end of nationalism in Europe. But over a half-century later, nationalism never went away. Officially, deputies and delegates will only speak in their national languages, as a matter of principle.
You might wonder then, when most, if not all, EU bureaucrats master English, what’s the point in maintaining 23 official languages, especially at such expense? Why not just use a single language and, what’s more, why not use the language all EU bureaucrats master — English?
Within the EU institutions, ideology trumps pragmatism, and the founding ideology of the Union is “Unity in Diversity.”
Back in 1957, when there were only six member states and four languages, it was an easy credo to follow. But fast-forward to today and things are not so easy: 27 member states and 23 official languages. It’s costing the EU a lot of money, it’s having a negative impact on its global competitiveness and it will only get more complex as the union continues to enlarge. Croatia will make 24th official language.
Just imagine a General with an army of 24 different nations all awaiting the order to advance in their own language. The war would be over before it started. God knows we have moved on from Nelson days where every order had to giving in triplicate, but the idea for establishing English as the language of the EU, remains politically toxic. Long live Nelson.
English is the language of the most eurosceptic country — the United Kingdom. What’s more, France and Germany are very touchy when it comes to having their languages eclipsed by English. Any single language wouldn’t be democratic, or in the shared spirit of the union.
So we are left with. Once a delegate or bureaucrat delivers a speech in his or her native language, it’s taken up by dozens of interpreters, who simultaneously translate into their respective languages, or tune into the English interpretation and translate from that. Meanwhile, an official release of the speech is produced and sent to the translation unit and a separate group of text-based translators gets to work.
The process is costly, unproductive, and most of all, unnecessary.
So how are national and European identities tied to language and communication? And what role does power have – power in discourse, over discourse and of discourse?
In our daily lives, we often encounter combinations of words and images of all kinds. We take them as given, we use them to communicate and interpret information.
Just imagine you were born stone deaf. Your language would be based on sight–lip reading which translates to sign language which appears to be on the increase in modern forms of communication.
But we are no longer communicate only in ‘traditional’ written or spoken genres, but also using new ones, such as text messages, e-mail, tweets and Facebook posts. These force us to get accustomed to the reduction of geographical distance and of time-spans due to the GLOBALIZATION OF COMMUNICATION. These day you can get fired by a text while on holidays.
However, in all available genres, the use of language and communication as a ‘social practice’enables dialogue, negotiation, argument and discussion, learning and remembering, and other functions.
Languages and using language manifest ‘who we are’, and we define reality partly through our language and linguistic behavior.
But who determines who can speak with whom, and how? Who decides on the norms of language use; who sets these norms and enforces them; who determines whether languages, linguistic behaviors and identities are accepted?
Who, for example, decides, in the end, which language and which form of language is ‘good’ enough to pass a language test to attain citizenship or resident status? Or look at the other side of the pond. Spanish is like a creeping tide in the USA.
With the recent appearance of new states in Europe and the ﬂow of populations across state boundaries, a new criterion centered on proficiency in the official language(s) of a state has emerged.
The acquisition of language proficiency is apparently frequently perceived as being solely in the interests of migrants and not also in the interests of the host country, as well as being the host country’s responsibility.
Moreover,many politicians still have to be convinced that second language acquisition depends on the availability of professional teachers, good teaching materials and sufficient competence in one’s native language.
Unfortunately, the worlds of language experts and politicians (and their bureaucrats) remain far apart, and much dialogue would be required to bring them together. Parameters for determining exactly who is (or can become) a ‘resident’ and/or a ‘citizen’ are at present unresolved, with little consensus across the states.
In creating language tests of various kinds, language competence has acquired the status of a key gatekeeper – providing access for some and rejecting it for others.
There are certainly no easy recipes for dealing with second language acquisition and migration. However, it is clear that we must acknowledge the close, emotional relationship between language and identity, and take account of it in the many political and educational policy decisions made every day.
All human identities are social in nature, because identity is about meaning, and meaning is not an essential property of words and things:
Two established criteria for determining citizenship, common in policy discourse,are birthplace and bloodline both are indelible printed and cannot be replaced by citizenship.
Language, power and identity’ closely these three are connected. How the discursive construction of identities is influenced by vested interests, and how identities are thus continually re- and co-constructed and negotiated.
However, these co-constructions operate within clear borders created in politics, in the economy and in legal frameworks. The contrast between policy regulations and the ‘voices of migrants’ allows the exposition of the many inherent contradictions in the search for European identities and related values, as stated in the Charter of Fundamental Rights
Meaning develops in context-dependent use.
Meanings are always the ‘outcome of agreement or disagreement, always a matter of contention, to some extent shared and always negotiable’ (Jenkins 1996: 4–5).
The cost of Translation in the EU is (estimated) — to be €330m a year or some €0.60 for every EU citizen.
According to certain very rough estimates, the cost of all language services in all EU institutions amounts to less than 1% of the annual general budget of the EU. Divided by the population of the EU, this comes to around €2 per person per year.
In 2014 output was 2.30 million pages. Of this, 71% was done in-house and the rest by contractors. A page is 1 500 typed characters not including spaces.
The limits of my language are the limits of my world.
Learning second language ‘slows brain ageing.
Speaking a second language is better than just knowing how to speak it.
When the world changes, sometimes a new language is needed to handle that change. For instance, telegraphs spawned Morse code, airplanes spawned air traffic control signals, and computers spawned machine language, C++, Java, and many others. You may decide that no existing language can satisfy the needs of your world, and so you may choose to become a language maker, which presents its own challenges.
That leaves us with : Do words make a language or is it the other way around. Words can be x-rays, if you use them properly- they’ll go through anything, you read them and you’re pierced. Prized possessions are words are words that are never spoken, sometimes the thought in my head get so bored they go out for a stroll through my mouth.