About European Union's push for 'Multilingualism'

It’s not new, but still many newspapers want to present such “multilingualism” initiatives as ‘fresh’. Nothing changed while Jan Figel was the commissioner in charge of languages for the European Union, and nothing is changing with the take over of Romanian Multilingualism Commissioner Leonard Orban.

When politicians in the EU talk about the advantages of ‘multilingualism’, it’s like when they talk about ‘multiculturalism’ and its benefits for society: the more they talk about it (specially when there is a right-wing government like this one), the more they are afraid of its consequences, and the less solutions they (want to) find for the current situations – if you don’t have a better solution for present-day language and immigrations’ problems, let’s just pray their consequences…

I cannot say it’s not a good strategy: we, for example, have been working for real multilingualism – i.e., defending our regional languages through the adoption of one single language for Europe, Indo-European – more than 3 years, while the European Union has always defended just the ‘official languages’ – and still, when we contacted them to present our project one year ago, they felt brave enough to answer us that they don’t defend ‘imposing one language’, but that their central policy was to defend multilingualism!

So, after their multilingualism, if you live in an official country (say Malta or Monaco), you are entitled to use the language of your parents before the European institutions, even if it’s only spoken by some thousands in your own country, but – always after EU’s current rules of multilingualism – if you are not part of an independent country (like, say, the Basque Country, Wales or Brittany) you can’t use your own language in the EU.

I haven’t seen such a demagogy go uncontested in politics for so long. But, who is to blame? Aparently blind conservative politicians, leftists wanting to avoid the real problems, or nationalists from wealthy regions wanting to enter this unstable system, to be able to compare their languages to the official ones, like (say) Catalan speakers wanting to see their language declared official side by side with Spanish? No one seems to be willing to challenge the current unstable policies, so as to avoid the possible consequences of a policy change in their long-term strategies.

The only lesson one could learn from Europe’s and Europeans’ attitude towards ‘multilingualism’ and ‘multiculturalism’ is that there are many multilingualisms and many multiculturalisms, and everyone should state clearly which one is being talked about at any given moment; that’s now the only possible way to avoid this blatant hypocrisy.

Sometimes I just feel like living in a mad world. Happy European Day of Languages!

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