The Idea of the National Language in our Time by Prof. Florian Coulmas (IN-EAST Duisburg-Essen University)


7 Oct 2015





Since the time of the French Revolution, national language regimes have evolved into an all-encompassing system. Since nation states count national languages among their essential paraphernalia (de jure or de facto), and since there is hardly any territory left on the planet that does not fall under the jurisdiction of one nation state or another, virtually every earthly citizen is subject to a national language regime with all its various implications for education, business and political participation. However, nowadays the system of national language regimes that consolidated in the course of the twentieth century serving as a major mechanism of social integration comes under pressure, both from above and from below, as the forces of globalisation, including and in particular new technologies of communication, make themselves felt on the level of language choice; from above by international organisations, multinational corporations, and transnational communities; and from below by regional language groups demanding self-determination and equal rights. This paper discusses some actual and conceivable consequences of this dual pressure on the world system of languages, putting the institution of the national language at the centre.



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