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Linguistic Justice in Policy and Practice

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Yongcan Liu , yl258.

ALL WELCOME, Drinks reception from 6.30pm

Whether English ‘would continue to spread as a second language the world over, as a benevolent bonus or creeping cancer of modernity’ was raised by Joshua Fishman in 1976 (cited in Robert Phillipson’s Linguistic imperialism, OUP , 1992, 11). ‘Universal’ human rights declarations aim at counteracting the injudicious effects of market forces, but language policy and language rights are weakly represented in them. There are measures to ensure linguistic justice in some EU functions and in policies in some member states. Whether the increasing dominance of English represents a threat to other languages or not needs empirical investigation in specific contexts. The learning and use of English is being promoted so energetically worldwide that it is essential to assess whether it serves as a panacea (strengthening multilingualism) or as a pandemic (marginalising other languages). The five Nordic countries (Scandinavia and Finland) have policies aiming to ensure a healthy balance between English and national languages, and recommend policies to achieve ‘parallel competence’ in higher education. This goal needs to be integrated into policies for ensuring linguistic justice for speakers of all languages.

Robert Phillipson is an Emeritus Professor at Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. British by origin, he studied at Cambridge and Leeds Universities, UK, and has a doctorate from the University of Amsterdam. He worked for the British Council in Algeria, Yugoslavia, and London, before emigrating to Denmark in 1973. His main books are Linguistic imperialism (Oxford University Press, 1992), English-only Europe? Challenging language policy (Routledge, 2003), updated and translated into French as La domination de l’anglais: un défi pour l’Europe (Libre & Solidaire, 2019), and Linguistic imperialism continued (Routledge, 2009). He has co-edited books on language rights and multilingual education, including Why English? Confronting the Hydra (2016) and Language Rights (four volumes, with his wife, Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, 2017). He was awarded the UNESCO Linguapax prize in 2010.

This is a joint seminar with MEITS a major interdisciplinary research project funded under the AHRC Open World Research Initiative. Linguistic competence in more than one language – being multilingual – sits at the heart of the study of modern languages and literatures, distinguishing it from cognate disciplines http://www.meits.org/.

This talk is part of the Second Language Education Group series.

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