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Multilingualism and Social Inclusion

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This is a thematic issue on the relation between multilingualism and social inclusion. Due to globalization, Europeanization, supranational and transnational regulations linguistic diversity and multilingualism are on the rise. Migration and old and new forms of mobility play an important role in these processes. As a consequence, English as the only global language is spreading around the world, including Europe and the European Union. Social and linguistic inclusion was accounted for in the pre-globalization age by the nation-state ideology implementing the ‘one nation-one people-one language’ doctrine into practice. This lead to forced linguistic assimilation and the elimination of cultural and linguistic heritage. Now, in the present age of globalization, linguistic diversity at the national state level has been recognized and multilingual states have been developing where all types of languages can be used in governance and daily life protected by a legal framework. This does not mean that there is full equality of languages. This carries over to the fair and just social inclusion of the speakers of these weaker, dominated languages as well. There is always a power question related to multilingualism. The ten case studies in this thematic issue elaborate on the relation between multilingualism and social inclusion. The articles in this issue refer to this topic in connection with different spaces, including the city, the island, and the globe; in connection with different groups, like Roma in the former Soviet-Union and ethnic Albanians in Macedonia; in connection with migration and mobility of Nordic pensioners to the south of Europe, and language education in Scotland; and finally in connection with bilingual education in Austria and Estonia as examples of successful practices including multilingualism under one and the same school roof.
Social Inclusion (ISSN: 2183–2803)
2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 1–4
DOI: 10.17645/si.v5i4.1286
Editorial
Multilingualism and Social Inclusion
László Marácz 1,2,* and Silvia Adamo 3
1Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam, 1012 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands; E-Mail: l.k.maracz@uva.nl
2Department of International Relations, Gumilyov Eurasian National University, 010000 Astana, Kazakhstan
3Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen, 2300 Copenhagen S, Denmark; E-Mail: sia@jur.ku.dk
* Corresponding author
Submitted: 25 November 2017 | Published: 22 December 2017
Abstract
This is a thematic issue on the relation between multilingualism and social inclusion. Due to globalization, Europeanization,
supranational and transnational regulations linguistic diversity and multilingualism are on the rise. Migration and old and
new forms of mobility play an important role in these processes. As a consequence, English as the only global language is
spreading around the world, including Europe and the European Union. Social and linguistic inclusion was accounted for in
the pre-globalization age by the nation-state ideology implementing the ‘one nation-one people-one language’ doctrine
into practice. This lead to forced linguistic assimilation and the elimination of cultural and linguistic heritage. Now, in the
present age of globalization, linguistic diversity at the national state level has been recognized and multilingual states have
been developing where all types of languages can be used in governance and daily life protected by a legal framework. This
does not mean that there is full equality of languages. This carries over to the fair and just social inclusion of the speakers
of these weaker, dominated languages as well. There is always a power question related to multilingualism. The ten case
studies in this thematic issue elaborate on the relation between multilingualism and social inclusion. The articles in this
issue refer to this topic in connection with different spaces, including the city, the island, and the globe; in connection with
different groups, like Roma in the former Soviet-Union and ethnic Albanians in Macedonia; in connection with migration
and mobility of Nordic pensioners to the south of Europe, and language education in Scotland; and finally in connection
with bilingual education in Austria and Estonia as examples of successful practices including multilingualism under one
and the same school roof.
Keywords
communication; education; English; Esperanto; language; minorities; multilingualism; global languages; linguistic spaces;
social inclusion
Issue
This editorial is part of the issue “Multilingualism and Social Inclusion”, edited by László Marácz (University of Amster-
dam, The Netherlands/Gumilyov Eurasian National University, Kazakhstan) and Silvia Adamo (University of Copenhagen,
Denmark).
© 2017 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal). This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribu-
tion 4.0 International License (CC BY).
1. Introduction
Linguistically diverse or multilingual societies are increas-
ing worldwide. This has mainly to do with processes of
globalization and Europeanization. Universal norms and
standards in order to protect linguistic and cultural iden-
tity are spreading around the globe. In parallel, the tra-
ditional nation-state regime cultivating the ‘one nation-
one people-one language ideology’ is weakening, creat-
ing room for the celebration of linguistic diversity; and
there is a proliferation of federal, multilingual states
which recognize more than one official language, i.e., the
language of the majority as the official language for com-
munication in governance, the public sphere and educa-
tion. The European Union (EU) now recognizing 24 offi-
cial languages is such new federal-type of political con-
Social Inclusion, 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 1–4 1
stellation. Further, the proliferation of multilingualism is
boosted by all forms of mobility, where mobility is un-
derstood as physical migration or new forms of virtual
mobility connected to digital networks. Mobility in this
sense supports the linguistic and transnational identity
of migrants bringing with them new languages that can
be called mobile minority languages in reference to tradi-
tional minority languages that have a territorial binding
in most cases. These migrants speaking unique heritage
languages cannot be integrated via linguistic assimilation
into the host society. Finally, English is on the rise as a
global lingua franca and it is considered that proficiency
in English is a prerequisite for a just world. The idea is
that more English leads to more social inclusion.
The relation between linguistic diversity and social in-
clusion is rather complex, however. A good example is
the EU. Social and linguistic inclusion is hampered by the
fact that although linguistic diversity is generally seen as
a positive asset and linguistic rights are on the agenda of
policy making in practice we have to do with language
hierarchies which imply the exclusion of languages and
we hasten to add quite often the social exclusion of their
speakers instead of inclusion. Linguistic barriers may also
add to the exclusion of non-native speakers in a host
state labour market (Adamo, 2018).
Due to the 24 official languages, linguistic diversity in
Brussels is hard to manage, however. Hence, the distinc-
tion between “official” versus “working” language has
become relevant, and this is practically used as a solution
for the language issue in the Brussels institutions. The
difference between official and working languages is de-
fined in article 6 of the language regulation 1/1958: the
institutions are allowed to freely choose their own lan-
guage regime. The European Commission acknowledges
three working languages, namely English, which is used
the most, French and German. The latter is used substan-
tially less frequently than the other two. Another exam-
ple of article 6 is the fact that of the 15 Directorate Gen-
erals (DGs) only three use the 24 official languages on
their website, including Employment, Social Affairs and
Inclusion, Enterprise and Industry, and Justice. All other
DGs use a reduced or a monolingual regime consisting of
English only.
There are voices to abolish language regulation
1/1958 altogether, due to the fact that an equal treat-
ment of official and working languages is not possible.
The main argument is that the democratic language
regime of the EU will hamper an efficient functioning of
its institutions. Moreover, the reduction of the number
of official languages is underpinned by the fact that inter-
national English functions practically as a lingua franca
in Brussels and European educational recommendations
for language teaching favour the learning of English.
Hence, monolingualism, i.e., the use of global English is
more often practice in the Brussels’ institutions. Never-
theless, not only global English will hamper the equality
of languages in Brussels it will also render almost impos-
sible the participation of non-speakers of English in the
Europeanisation project. This leads to social exclusion in-
stead of social inclusion.
It is true that traditional minority languages have re-
ceived more legal recognition in recent decades. Euro-
pean territorial languages are protected by several con-
ventions under the auspice of the Council of Europe that
is in close cooperation with the EU. The use of these
languages in European national states where the official
language of the state is the majority language is guaran-
teed by international and European legal treaties, like the
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Mi-
norities signed on 1 February 1995 in Strasbourg and the
European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages
adopted on 5 November 1992. Observe that in these
cases, there is no full equality between the majority
and minority languages leading to linguistic hegemony
of the majority language. This situation of inequality is
characterized by linguistic asymmetries, subordination,
and threshold restrictions for the use of the weaker lan-
guage. This carries over to the native speakers of these
languages. Hence, they might be excluded because they
speak a minority language. The traditional territorial lan-
guages are still in a better position than mobile minor-
ity languages that have received hardly any recognition
in the European linguistic space. As Nagy (2015) rightly
points out this has to do with power, and officially rec-
ognized languages are the languages of power indicating
which group is dominating the political arena. Therefore,
language policy projects, like ‘MIME’ that is sponsored
by the European Commission FP7-program should find
an optimal equilibrium between mobility and social in-
clusion (Grin, Marácz, Pokorn, & Kraus, 2014).
This thematic issue will offer ten case studies on the
relation between multilingualism and social inclusion,
and will reflect on the themes discussed above. The arti-
cles address also topics and countries that are far beyond
the scope of the EU only. Issues having to do with linguis-
tic diversity and multilingualism play an important role
on a global scale. The articles target themes as multilin-
gualism in different spaces, including the city, island and
the globe. Esperanto might challenge the only global lin-
gua franca (i.e., English) as a neutral, artificial alternative.
The articles also cover language as a source of conflict
and an ethno-identity marker of minorities, like Roma
in the former Soviet-Union and Albanians in Macedonia;
the effects of mobility and migration on multilingual com-
munication in the case of Northern European pensioners
in the south of Europe and education in Scotland; and
bilingual education in Austria and Estonia as illustrative
cases of social inclusion under one and the same but lin-
guistically diverse school roof.
2. Multilingualism in Different Spaces
In their article, Yaron Matras and Alex Robertson (2017)
focus on the language and social policies employed in
a British university setting. Describing the work carried
out by the research unit Multilingual Manchester (MLM),
Social Inclusion, 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 1–4 2
the authors illustrate how initiatives for awareness of
language diversity can sustain a development towards a
more inclusive society. The article shows how the activi-
ties proposed in a model of participatory research such
as MLM can pave the way towards an appreciation of lan-
guage diversity as a vital element of social inclusion.
Through an examination of the linguistic landscape
of Manila during a protest march in November 2016, Jen-
nifer Monje (2017) uses data such as mobile posters, ban-
ners, t-shirts, etc., to map the linguistic composition and
‘ethnolinguistic vitality’ of the city. By analyzing these
mobile and unfixed linguistic expressions, the article ex-
plores the city of Manila’s multilingual nature and at the
same time, the strategies that can be used for displaying
dissent through linguistic devices.
The article by Herman Bröring and Eric Mijts (2017)
explores the language practices in postcolonial small is-
land states, in the specific case study Aruba, and their
relation of dependency on former colonizer states’ lan-
guage regime. The starting point of the analysis fo-
cuses on the limited protection offered by international
treaties to creole languages spoken by the majority of
the inhabitants of the former colonial island. From there
the authors proceed to analyse how the influence of
Dutch language in governance, judiciary, and education
currently affects the Aruba legislation. In this view, the
language planning and policy employed in Aruba does
not support a ‘linguistically inclusive society’ where the
island’s population can be represented.
Federico Gobbo’s (2017) contribution describes and
contextualizes the creation and development of Es-
peranto. Acclaimed as a true example of lingua franca,
the evolution of Esperanto is nuanced in Gobbo’s exposi-
tion by exposing the commitment of Esperanto activists
to particular sets of beliefs and ‘programs for changing
the world’. By presenting and discussing the history and
narratives of Esperanto, the author also proposes a re-
newed assessment of the predominant position of En-
glish as the current lingua franca of the world.
3. Multilingualism and Minorities
The article by Elena Marushiakova and Vesselin Popov
(2017) introduces us to the developments in the poli-
tics of multilingualism and educational policies for Roma
children in the Soviet Union. Formerly known as ‘gypsy
schools’, these institutions provided instruction in their
Romani mother tongue, and thanks also to specially
trained Roma teachers, high levels of literacy were
achieved in the Roma communities. After the closing of
these special schools in 1938, the authors describe a lack
of multilingual awareness in the subsequent move to in-
clude Roma children into mainstream schools. Individ-
ual elements of multilingualism and educational policies
specifically targeting Roma children have been reintro-
duced only in a few countries after the collapse of the
communist regimes in Eastern Europe. The article also
mentions the lack of interest of Roma people in accept-
ing a mother tongue based multilingual education, in re-
buttal of the positive results of Roma education in the
Soviet Union.
The article by Renata Treneska-Deskoska (2017) sets
the frame around the question of why and how states
ought to accomodate linguistic diversity. The author
presents the context of Macedonia, with its ethno-
linguistic communities that have challenged the state’s
organisation since its 1991 independence. Adopting a
‘promotional approach’, Macedonia has granted linguis-
tic rights to minorities also by means of constitutional
change, which introduced Albanian as an official lan-
guage alongside Macedonian. The article examines the
complex relationship between language policies and
‘ethnic mistrust’ and the potential and limits of legisla-
tion in accomodating the tensions among the two.
4. Multilingualism and Migration
In their contribution, Per Gustafson and Ann Elisabeth
Laksfoss Cardozo (2017) analyze the multilingual context
in which international retirees live, in their ‘search for
a better quality of life’. Taking as a case study Scandi-
navian (Norwegian and Swedish) retirees residing in the
province of Alicante, Spain, the authors confront issues
of social, cultural, and linguistic inclusion that are present
in modern international retirement by focusing espe-
cially on the issue of language. After exploring the par-
ticular linguistic landscape of Alicante and the retirees’
linguistic practices, the authors discuss how this partic-
ular kind of migration movement affects the conditions
for social inclusion, as well as our understanding of the
very concept.
In the article by Róisín McKelvey (2017), we have the
opportunity to explore a relatively unknown context of
multilingualism found in the educational system of Scot-
land. The increased linguistic diversity of the country, as in
the wider UK context, has spurred a demand for language
policies and multilingual public services. From this start-
ing point, the article evaluates the legal instruments and
policies promoting language learning and multilingualism,
considering also the challenges to their implementation
in an optic of inclusion. The conclusions highlight the ten-
sion between goals of inclusion and the increased mobil-
ity and multilingual demographics in Scotland.
5. Minority Languages
The article by Ulrike Jessner and Kerstin Mayr-Keiler
(2017) examines the context of language choice and lan-
guage use in children attending bilingual and multilingual
schools in Austria. By means of a sociolinguistic analysis
and employing empirical data, the article explores how
children utilise socio-contextual information in order to
inform their language choice and language use. The anal-
ysis concludes by evaluating how these dynamics of lan-
guage practice interplay with broader considerations on
social inclusion.
Social Inclusion, 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 1–4 3
Finally, the linguistic landscape in Estonia is at the
center of the article by Svetlana L’nyavskiy-Ekelund and
Maarja Siiner (2017), who analyze the system of parallel
and separated schools for Russian and Estonian speak-
ing children. Contested as a system contributing to so-
cial injustice and segregation, the example of two pri-
vate schools and their linguistic practices is examined, as
the schools aim to drive inclusive institutions by employ-
ing inter alia multilingual practices. The case studies can
then be used to question how a positive attitude to mul-
tilingual competences could further improve social cohe-
sion in Estonia if the same outlook was broadened to a
larger set of schools.
Acknowledgements
The research leading to these results has received
funding from the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme
(FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 613344.
Conflict of Interests
The authors declare no conflict of interests.
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About the Authors
László Marácz defended his PhD dissertation in General Linguistics at the University of Groningen in
1989. Since 1992, he is affiliated as an Assistant Professor to the Department of European Studies of
the University of Amsterdam. Prof. Dr. Marácz is ‘Honorary Professor ’ of the L.N. Gumilyov Eurasian Na-
tional University in Astana, Kazakhstan. He is vice-coordinator of the MIME-consortium (www.project-
mime.org) that won the European FP7-tender in 2013 under the reference of ‘SSH Call 2013.5.2-1:
Multilingual Challenge for the European Citizen’.
Silvia Adamo is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen. Her research inter-
ests and publications focus on migration and integration law, EU law, citizenship law and theory, criti-
cal legal theory, and linguistic diversity. She was a member of the international collaborative research
project ‘bEUcitizen: Barriers towards European Citizenship’, funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework
Programme (2014–2016). She is the co-editor of the book Linguistic Diversity and European Democ-
racy (Ashgate, 2011) and the Editor-in-Chief of Retfærd, Nordic Journal of Law and Justice.
Social Inclusion, 2017, Volume 5, Issue 4, Pages 1–4 4
... The prevalence of linguistically diverse and multilingual societies are increasing due to globalization and Europeanization (Marácz & Adamo, 2017;Nevskaya & Tazhibayeva, 2015b). English often is considered to be the lingua franca in international communication, business and technology. ...
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