In the European Union language regime debate, theorists of multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism have framed their arguments in reference to different theories of justice and democracy. Philippe Van Parijs advocates the diffusion of a lingua franca, namely English, as means of changing the scale of the justificatory community to the European level and allowing the creation of a transnational demos. Paradoxically, one key dimension of democracy has hardly been addressed in this discussion: the question of the democratic legitimacy of language regime choices and citizens’ preferences on the different language regime scenarios. Addressing the question of the congruence of language policy choices operated by national and European elites and ordinary citizens’ preferences, this paper argues first that the dimension of democratic legitimacy is crucial and needs to be taken into account in discussions around linguistic justice. Criticizing the assumption of a direct correspondence between individuals’ language learning choices and citizens’ language regime preferences made by different authors, the analysis shows the ambivalence of citizens’ preferences measured by survey data. The article secondly raises the question of the boundaries of the political community at which the expression of citizens’ preferences should be measured and demonstrates that the outcome and the fairness of territorial linguistic regimes may vary significantly according to the level at which this democratic legitimacy is taken into account.
In advocating the use of a global auxiliary language, Van Parijs forms part of a tradition that stretches back to the seventeenth century. However, he differs from this tradition in promoting the use of English rather than an artificial language of some sort. This paper examines the theoretical situation that van Parijs proposes as the most fair, in which English functions worldwide as the preferred auxiliary language and in which certain measures have been taken to counterbalance injustices of three types. I draw attention to injustices of each of these types done to speakers of English in that situation. This leads to the conclusion that proposals to use an artificial language as a global lingua franca that were made in the seventeenth and later centuries have a stronger case than van Parijs has argued.
In the European and world-wide scenario of linguistic justice offered by van Parijs (2011), it is argued that we need one lingua franca only and that the only suitable candidate is English. In order to sustain his argument, the author has to reject three known alternatives against the English-only scenario. The second alternative is Esperanto. Van Parijs argues that there are some inner defects in the Esperanto language, and therefore Esperanto is not suitable for the role of world-wide lingua franca. This paper offers counterarguments based on the evidence of facts, showing that if nowadays Esperanto is only a lesser-used language the reason is not in the inner traits of the language, rather in geopolitical decisions. I argue that in the most probable global scenario English still plays the actual major role, but along with other cultural languages being regional lingua francas.
Philippe van Parijs explains in Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World the concept of maxi-min language use as a process of language choice. He suggests that the language chosen as a common language should maximize the minimal competence of a community. Within a multilingual group of people, the chosen language is the language known best by a participant who knows it least. For obvious reasons, only English would qualify for having that status. This article argues that maxi-min is rather a normative concept, not only because the process itself remains empirically unfounded. Moreover, language choice is the result of complex social and psychological structures. As a descriptive process, the maxi-min choice happens in the reality fairly seldom, whereas the max-min use of languages seen as a normative process could be a very effective tool to measure linguistic justice.
The programme which was planned for more stages started in 2010 and undertook the monitoring of Hungarian news programmes (since 2011, cultural programmes have also been monitored) of national audiovisual media from different regions. The aim of monitoring these programmes is to study the strength of samples as to what extent professional speakers, reporters observe the norms of vernacular language and to what extent their use of language acts as part of sample language in a regional, bilingual, and dialectical environment.
In my study, I present the methodological questions of media monitoring (the aspects of sampling, the requirements regarding content and form in processing documentary material), paying attention to the differences between Romanian and Hungarian media-monitoring programmes.
The notion of linguistic justice should be related to the concept of linguistic ease, by which we mean the full social and communicative freedom of concern of the speaker in a given social interaction involving the use of language(s) present in the society, according to the social norms of use. To acquire an acceptable degree of linguistic ease, the knowledge of at least one L2 is considered important. But the acquisition of a L2 is interfered by the previous linguistic skills of the learner/speaker who, in many cases, does not have a suitable competence even of the languages of the society in which he/she lives.
The analysis of interference is a popular topic in sociolinguistics, and the researchers addressing it investigate the phenomena of interference with a special regard to mother tongue texts of speakers living in a linguistic minority. In order to analyse the phenomenon, one needs to be clear about the identity of the author of the particular text, in addition to the linguistic environment, the circumstances in which the phenomenon appears, etc., and this is particularly difficult in the case of historical texts. The most frequent interference phenomenon in Old Hungarian texts is the occurrence of Latin elements in the utterances of Hungarian mother tongue speakers; nevertheless, we can find other linguistic interferences as within the regions inhabited by Hungarians the speakers came in contact with and learned the language(s) of several communities with other mother tongues. In this study, I analyse Romanian words and phrases that appear in the texts of Hungarian-language testimonies given by Romanians living in Transylvania; these linguistic elements cannot be classified as regional borrowings in the Hungarian lexicon, and if they can, they were used by the Hungarian speakers for a very short period of time. Thus, my paper analyses phenomena of interference that are connected to mother tongue elements appearing in a foreign language text.
Should English be promoted as a worldwide lingua franca for justice-related reasons? Philippe Van Parijs answers affirmatively in order to promote global distributive justice. In contrast, I argue that a rapid expansion of English could lead to one undesirable consequence that ought to be prevented: the globalization of an Anglo-American life-world that impoverishes democratic-deliberative debates. Inspired by John Stuart Mill, I will defend the idea that the more dominant the Anglo-American life-world is, the less diversity of life-worlds and, therefore, the less diversity of substantial voices in the global democratic-deliberative process there will be. It might be that more voices could be heard (because of the lingua franca), but with less substantial diversity of opinions. In that sense, the life-worlds (and language as an access key to them) have an instrumental value that enables plurality and better deliberative discussion. For that reason, I contend that there is a pro tanto reason to prevent the expansion of English as a lingua franca.