The reason why the EU has invested so much effort in its multilingualism policy is because it expects to increase its legitimacy in the eyes of the Member States as well as the European citizens and to improve the quality of its democracy. Most often, in standard political theory, democracies and public spheres are implicitly conceived of as linguistically and culturally integrated. Because of this, multilingualism and cultural diversity constitute "a serious dilemma for liberal democratic theory".
Indeed, while the Member States decided during the Barcelona Council that promoting trilingualism among the European citizens was an official common strategy, their respective domestic language strategies sometimes head in an opposite direction. Search all titles.
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However, in order to offer empirically informed answers, it is also important that political theorists dealing with language matters become acquainted with the findings of other language-focused disciplines e. As Will Kymlicka and Alan Patten have thoroughly shown, political theorists deeply disagree regarding how the state ought to respond to the fact of linguistic diversity that most if not all polities are increasingly experiencing in the western and non-western world. Some authors, for example, emphasise the importance of ensuring that all citizens in a polity are proficient in a common national language and that immigrants are assimilated into the majority language rather than helped or encouraged to preserve their linguistic identity.
Other authors, however, defend the view that linguistic diversity ought to be preserved and promoted by the state. Some appeal to the intrinsic value of linguistic diversity both within individual polities and at the global level. Others emphasise the unique perspective on the world which each language offers and which would be lost if languages were not protected.
A very influential view is the one defended by the communitarian philosopher Charles Taylor.
This justifies granting linguistic minorities e. French-speaking Quebecois in Canada special rights enabling them to implement policies e. One political theorist, Will Kymlicka , has provided one of the most interesting attempts to reconcile the communitarian emphasis on linguistic and, more generally, cultural group rights with the liberal concern for protecting individual liberty and autonomy.
Individuals do not choose their mother tongue. Therefore, the kinds of difficulties e. This, however, creates a tension between the idea that the state ought to protect linguistic diversity and the idea that all citizens of a polity ought to share a common mother tongue for public deliberation to be truly democratic.
Linguistic Diversity and European Democracy – Edited by Anne Lise Kjær and Silvia Adamo
Given that all countries in the world are to a greater or lesser extent multilingual, assuming or demanding linguistic homogeneity as a precondition for democratic deliberation seems to be unduly restrictive and to potentially justify the forced linguistic assimilation of language minorities.
Democratic deliberation is certainly important, at least in liberal democracies. Citizens should not simply cast a vote every few years, but also discuss and exchange views about public policies in order for the latter to be justified. On the one hand, it has endeavoured to preserve its cultural and linguistic diversity. On the other hand, it has aimed to legitimise its policies and institutions by encouraging a democratic debate among its citizens carried out across linguistic boundaries.
This solution would not be without problems and would be considered unfair by many EU member states. English, French and German or the use of Esperanto.
The former, it is often argued, would be fairer but less efficient and, however, still biased in favour of a limited number of languages. The latter would be neutral and impartial but, according to many, very impractical. Professor Martti Koskenniemi. The Status of Law in World Society. Friedrich Kratochwil. The Essence and Value of Democracy. Hans Kelsen. The State. Bob Jessop. Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis.
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