Apr 15

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Harmony of Babel – Multilingualism in the EU

With 24 official languages (and counting), and over 60 indigenous regional or minority languages, the EU truly is a paradise for language enthusiasts! Many Europeans benefit from growing up speaking more than one language either because their country is officially multilingual (e.g., Belgium or Luxembourg) or for a number of other personal reasons. Maintaining multilingualism, however, has come under criticism several times mostly due to the high costs it involves.

To learn more about this fascinating reality and effectively improve your English, download our complete reading lesson!

For a quick mental workout do the activity below.
True of false?
Read the extract from the article below and decide whether the following statements are true or false. Underline the key expressions that helped you decide.
1 The president of the Parliament promised to take a critical look at the current status of the Welsh language in the European Parliament.
2 Multilingualism has gained an increasingly high profile in the European Commission.
3 Davyth Hicks questioned the legal base of how multilingualism is handled by the Member States in EU primary law.
“Jill Evans, a Welsh Greens/EFA MEP is keen to emphasize that, “Many so-called ‘minority’ languages are actually more widely spoken than some official EU languages.” Welsh is spoken by approximately 500,000 people or 19 per cent of the population of Wales and Evans notes that this is higher than the numbers that speak Irish or Maltese. She highlights that, “Welsh is already a co-official EU language which means it can be used in meetings of the council and other EU bodies but not in the parliament. “This is a situation the parliament president Martin Schulz pledged to examine during his re-election campaign last year.”
Davyth Hicks, secretary general of the European language equality network (ELEN) queried the legality of the current approach to language diversity being adopted: “How can the EU and the member states ratify the Lisbon treaty and the charter of fundamental rights, which clearly states that they must “respect” linguistic diversity and that discrimination is prohibited, when we see co-official, regional, and even official languages such as Irish, are being undermined?” He adds that Europe could be a leader in “reversing language endangerment” in what has become “a global crisis”, but it must “act meaningfully to safeguard its own linguistic diversity”.
While the Commission officially endorses a policy of language diversity, critics have pointed out that multilingualism has gone from a dedicated portfolio in the 2007 Commission, to forming part of Androulla Vassiliou’s education, culture, multilingualism and youth portfolio in 2010, to being relegated to a unit within the commission’s DG for employment, social affairs and inclusion in the Juncker Commission.”

Read the full story

Featured image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.euenglish.hu/2015/04/harmony-of-babel-multilingualism-in-the-eu/

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