By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
Review of Managing Multilingualism in a European Nation-State
Boyd, Sally, and Leena Huss, ed. (2001) Managing Multilingualism in a European Nation-State: Challenges for Sweden. Multilingual Matters, 86pp, hardback ISBN 1-85359-558-6, GBP 26.00.
Suzanne K. Hilgendorf, Wayne State University
In the last 10 years, increasing scholarly attention has focused on the linguistic impact of three major social developments in Europe: a) the establishment of the supranational polity of the European Union (EU), b) substantial immigration to numerous nation states since World War II, and c) the increasing use of English as an international lingua franca (e.g. Wright, 2000; Cenoz and Jessner, 2000; Deneire and Goethals, 1997; Ammon, 1994).
This volume considers these issues for the case of Sweden, which in many ways is representative for the situations in other European nation states. The volume consists of five papers covering a range of perspectives on multilingualism: current language policies and multilingual issues, the use of Swedish and English within the context of the EU, the use of minority and majority languages in the country's school system, the role of Swedish vis-ï¿½-vis the growing spread of English, and the issue of language rights within the country. The volume should be of interest to scholars specializing in any of a number of areas, including Swedish sociolinguistics, multilingualism in Europe, the international spread of English, linguistic human rights, and minority language use.
The Introduction by the editors Sally Boyd and Leena Huss provides background information on language policies and current multilingual issues of concern. Three primary factors combine to create what in the last decade has become a more complex sociolinguistic situation. First, although Sweden has a history of dealing with a small number of regional minority languages, immigration since World War II has introduced additional and very diverse linguistic populations, consequently creating a richer and more complex multilingual situation raising new policy concerns. The second factor is Sweden's acceptance to the EU in 1995, which introduced new supranational language policies protecting minority languages while bringing up concerns about the functional range of the national language, particularly vis-ï¿½-vis the use of English as a lingua franca. Related to this last point, the third factor is the impact of English in general in light of globalization and the significant role of the USA internationally.
Boyd and Huss, both immigrants who have raised families in the country for more than 25 years, highlight their unique perspectives on the situation as both outsiders and insiders. They describe the status of their respective native languages, English and Finnish, and outline the historical development of the nation's language policies, which by 2000 had expanded to recognize five national minority languages: Finnish, Meï¿½nkieli, Romani, Saami, and Yiddish. They further provide an overview of the debate on the role of English, which following European integration increasingly is perceived as a threat for Swedish. Government initiatives to promote Swedish vis-ï¿½- vis English are outlined, as are the shortcomings of such policies in their failure to include minority languages.
The paper ''Swedish, English and the European Union'' by Bjorn Melander examines the linguistic Englishization of Swedish on a national and supranational level. Melander assesses three specific manifestations of this influence: the phenomenon of English loanwords, the impact of English as a primary source language for translations, and the spread of English to a growing number of domains of use. Whereas in Sweden, as in other countries, English frequently is perceived as a threat to native languages in terms of causing a language shift, Melander demonstrates that for Swedish these fears generally are exaggerated. In reviewing studies examining English loanwords, Melander outlines the consistently low frequencies of occurrence and minimal impact on grammatical structure. The analysis of the dominance of English as a source language for translations illustrates how this trend emerged already in the 19th century and has resulted in the introduction of new genres as well as a shift in some textual patterns. The majority of the chapter examines the spread of English to a growing number of domains, and how the natural sciences offer the clearest example of a language shift. To address the general perception of EU membership as facilitating Swedish domain loss, Melander presents the results of a survey (Melander 2000) of language use among various groups of individuals working in EU settings: a) Swedish members of the European Parliament, b) members of the Economic and Social Committee, and the Committee of the Regions, and c) government civil servants and administrators dealing with EU matters.
The findings show language use varying according to group status and formality of situation. Given these results, Melander argues that while a wide-ranging linguistic shift in fact is not taking place, the national language should be promoted to a greater degree.
In ''The Protection and Rejection of Minority and Majority Languages in the Swedish School System'', Jarmo Lainio analyzes Sweden's progressive educational policy for speakers of immigrant languages and the reasons for its failed implementation. This is contrasted with the situation for English, which in spite of a lack of explicit policy support increasingly is becoming a de facto second language. Lainio first outlines the linguistic diversity in the public schools with statistics for the ten largest mother tongues spoken, which show Arabic with the greatest number of native speakers. Officially, educational policy espouses pluralism and that the school system should assist ''children of immigrants to achieve active bilingualism by providing home language instruction'' (p. 34). Government statistics are provided showing that only about half of the students officially entitled to mother tongue instruction (MTI) in fact receive such. A similar situation is presented for the support of teaching Swedish as a second language. Lainio examines this gulf between theory and practice with the example of Finnish as a MT. He outlines the reasons for the successful implementation of multilingual policies from the late 1960s through ca. 1983, as well as the factors behind their waning support from 1984 to 1990. In contrast to this situation for immigrant and regional minority languages, Lainio highlights how English has flourished as a foreign language, becoming the country's unofficial second language. He outlines the rising importance of English in the school system from 1946 to 1994, and the continuing efforts to introduce the language earlier in the curriculum and increasingly as a medium of instruction (MOI). In conclusion, Lainio argues that policy implementation be reconsidered to promote MTI once more and to counter the homogenizing effects of Swedish and English.
Britt-Louise Gunnarsson discusses ''Swedish Tomorrow - A Product of the Linguistic Dominance of English?'', which examines the general impact of the powerful international lingua franca within the small Scandinavian speech community. In contrast to the large number of minority and immigrant languages spoken within the country, English does not have a substantial L1 speech community, yet continues to spread and successfully establish itself as an additional language. It is widely used by both multinational and domestic businesses, in the sciences, in advertising, and information technology. The first part of the paper reviews general research on the relationship between culture and L1 texts, demonstrating with a variety of European and Asian languages how textual patterns vary according to the native language of the writer. Special consideration is given to studies examining Swedish texts, with Gunnarsson discussing in detail one project comparing texts written in Sweden, Germany, and Britain in various communities (banks, engineering firms, university medicine departments, university history departments). She also presents findings from an on-going study of Electrolux, an international Swedish-based firm that uses English for corporate communication. This is followed by a discussion of contrastive studies of texts and writing in foreign languages, which show that L1 text patterns are transferred to foreign language texts, in this case written in English. Gunnarsson concludes her paper with a discussion of the impact of English on Swedish and native texts, warning of domain loss and genre death. At the same time she recognizes the inevitability of contact and influence, and urges the appropriation of foreign innovations and their adaptation to the Swedish context in order to maintain the expression of Swedish identity.
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Robert Phillipson contribute the final paper to the volume, ''The World Came to Sweden - But Did Language Rights?'', which addresses a number of myths regarding linguistic human rights in general and as relate to Sweden. While the illusion of a monolingual, monocultural Sweden has faded in the last decades in the face of increasing immigration, new myths have arisen purporting a guarantee of linguistic human rights that in reality has yet to be realized. Among these myths are that of: a) global English as a great equalizer, b) an equality among all official languages of the EU, c) the protection of linguistic human rights in international charters and conventions, and d) Sweden as being exemplary in upholding such rights.
Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson discuss each of these myths, providing detailed arguments on how they fall short of their proposed aims. While global English does provide unique opportunities for many individuals throughout the world, Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson argue that it does not serve all equally well. The global spread of English has occurred at the expense of many local languages, and linguistic hierarchies exist affording distinct advantages based on degree of proficiency (L1, L2, foreign language), especially with respect to those who do not know the lingua franca. The discussion of ''Myths about the Equality of all European Union (Official) Languages'' in fact focuses instead on the marginalization of language policy within the EU. The authors note the need for further research on and greater importance given to language issues within the supranational polity, especially considering the diversity among individual national policies. Myths about linguistic human rights being well protected are exposed with an analysis of international charters and conventions. Although generally mentioned in the preface of such documents, language rights often are not addressed in the binding clauses (e.g. UN Universal Declaration; European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms). In other instances, weak wording allows governments to avoid policy implementation (e.g. in the UN Minorities Declaration). Finally, Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson challenge the exemplary status of Sweden in upholding human rights by outlining the shortcomings in implementing educational language policies aimed at providing MTI.
This volume is an important contribution to research on current sociolinguistic issues in Europe. Whereas earlier studies have largely been European-wide in focus (Ammon, 1994; Deneire and Goethals, 1997; Cenoz and Jessner, 2000; Wright, 2000), this volume extends this area of research by offering an in-depth profile of the situation in a single nation state. It is cohesive and well-edited in its treatment of a broad range of topics regarding multilingualism: regional minority, immigrant, and national language use; English as a lingua franca; language use on a regional, national, and supranational level; etc. With Scandinavian-based contributors including native Swedes, fellow Scandinavians, and immigrants to the region, the volume provides diverse perspectives on the linguistic situation in Sweden. Also, each article draws on numerous bibliographic references in Swedish and/or other Scandinavian languages, thus introducing those findings to a broader, English-reading audience worldwide.
One minor shortcoming, which is prevalent in general in this area of research, is a tendency to approach the issues from a monolingual perspective, i.e. considering language contact and spread in terms of an either-or dichotomy, rather than exploring the possibilities for and advantages of greater individual multilingualism. While it is true that monolingual attitudes traditionally prevail throughout much of the West, globalization, increasing immigration, and supranational affiliations are creating situations where individual multilingualism is more and more necessary. The social reality is such that English is a de facto second language, as Gunnarsson and Lainio acknowledge in their articles. This is not just the case in Sweden or Scandinavia, but also largely throughout Europe if not much of the world. Likewise, the reality of the EU is that it is a multilingual state, and Europeans will have to become proficient in more than one language if there is to be direct communication. L1 language use certainly should be promoted and institutionally supported. At the same time, the reasons for resistance to individual multilingualism should be explored.
Ammon, Ulrich, guest ed. (1994) Sociolinguistica. International Yearbook of European Sociolinguistics. Special Issue on English Only? In Europe. 8.
Cenoz, Jasone, and Ulrike Jessner, eds. (2000) English in Europe: The Acquisition of a Third Language. Bilingual Education and Bilingualism 19. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
Deneire, Marc G., and Michaï¿½l Goethals, guest eds. (1997) World Englishes: Special Issue on English in Europe. 16.1: 1-179.
Wright, Sue (2000) Community and Communication: The Role of Language in Nation State Building and European Integration. Multilingual Matters 114. Clevedon, England: Multilingual Matters.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Suzanne K. Hilgendorf holds a PhD in German Linguistics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She currently is an assistant professor in the Department of German & Slavic Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she is a faculty member for the interdisciplinary M. A. in Language Learning and coordinates the basic language program. Her primary research interests are in sociolinguistics, with an emphasis on non-native varieties of English and in particular the use of English in Germany. Her other research interests include second language acquisition and foreign language pedagogy.