Zur Zukunft des Deutschen und anderer Sprachen in Europa (Werner Voigt)


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Zur Zukunft des Deutschen und anderer Sprachen in Europa
“I look forward to the day when I go to France and do not have to speak French”

(U. VEIGEL, Leiter der Agentur Bates, Berlin)

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The prospects of European languages, especially German, justly cause anxiety. Powerful media, advertising circles and enterprises are prepared to abandon entire sectors of life to a English-German Pidgin or even English - in the name of globalization or Europe. The motives are to be seen in the wish to economize, often however only to show off - even at the price of creating communication barriers. In contrast to earlier borrowing (a most common feature in linguistic history) the national languages could be so undermined as to lose their cultural status. The educational systems, are at stake as far as they are based on the national languages. Together with the decline of basic linguistic skills of pupils and students a new analphabetism is emerging. Europe's advanced integration, with its increasing communicative needs and the market without frontiers, requires more widespread knowledge of foreign languages - for average citizens at work. Here English is predominant. Preparing the Europeans for these tasks would be important. Real English would imply real learning. This seems to be too much to be expected from the majority. As a cheaper solution the public space in Germany has been largely invaded by a mixed, often artificial, language. For some, pidgin is but a step towards the partial introduction of English. Acceptance is expected because the younger generation usually like Anglosaxon Popular culture. Some words become real loans, others are imposed on the public and repeated until they start replacing the native words. The equation "American English = progress" impresses the naive comsumer. A frequently followed pattern prefers English for headlines, slogans etc., but German for the actual text. Some creations ("handy" = cellular phone) are unknown in English-speaking countries. The surreptitious or overt "enforcement" of the principle "one market - one language" cannot be accepted. A lingua franca is useful but must not be allowed to depreciate the other languages on their own territory. Otherwise English may eventually become for us what it is already in some former British colonies, or on the Philippines. What does it mean for a society if important matters in many sectors are dealt with in a foreign language? Are we returning to the middle ages with a kind of Latin for global, abstract, important matters and a vernacular for everyday life? How can we prevent our fully developed languages from evolving back into dialects? Smaller countries often have more experience with dominant languages and generally master the situation better; however, - for historical reasons - they show more cultural self-esteem than the Germans. Europe must, in accordance with the treaties, defend her languages for the sake of democratic high-level communication and because of the values and identities linked to them - even if we know that "identities" are not monolithic. The instruments to be applied must not necessarily be the same as in France with her somewhat rigid policy. For what is entirely new in the European construction is that it is, unlike former attempts, not based on the subdueing of all others by the most powerful, but on equal and democratic participation. German citizens' reactions and practical steps against the anglomania are also described.
« Last Edit: 20 Nov, 2021, 19:05:08 by spiros »


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