Ingelerá - Euskara preposizionala

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Garabideak - Ingelerá - Euskara preposizionala



Gunilla Anderman and Margaret Rogers



When in 1977 the NASA spacecraft Voyager One blasted off on its historic unmanned mission to Jupiter and beyond, the capsule was equipped with greetings from the planet Earth, brief messages in 55 languages in preparation for the wide-ranging choice of languages that might be spoken in outer space. Preceding the individual language messages, however, was a lengthier statement from Kurt Waldheim speaking on behalf of the then 147 member states of the United Nations. Prophetically the statement made by the Secretary-General of the UN, himself an Austrian, was delivered in English. While, at the time, the use of English to ensure universal understanding of his message might not have been a foregone conclusion, at the present moment in history the choice of English as the language to represent the planet seems indisputable.

Noiz 1977an NASAren Voyager spaziontcia jaurti cen bere skifaibako missio historikoan nora-ta Jupiter eta haratago, bere capsula zihoan ekipaturik edu agurrac Lur planetatik, mezu laburrak 55 hizkuntzatan, preparatuta begiratuz hizkuntza-aukera zabala ceyn mintza lediteken kanpo spazioan. Precedituz horiek mezu linguistico individualac, halere, bazen Kurt Waldheim-en declaratio bat luzeagoa, hitzeginez Natio Unituen orduko 147 stadu membuen icenean. Prophetikoki, hori declaratioa NUen Secretario Generalac egina, bera Austriarra izanic, pronuntiatu cen inglesez. Bitartean ece, garai hartan, Inglesaren erabiltcea seguratceco ulertce universala ez zatekeen conclusio evidentea, historiaren momentu honetan, Inglesaren aukera celan hizkuntza bat planeta representatceco dirudi indisputablea.

For English to assume the role of global language is, however, not an altogether uncontroversial issue. While the availability of a lingua franca helps individual nation states to gain an increased international profile, the coexistence of a national and an international language is not always unproblematic; a number of major arguments have been raised related to retaining and promoting English in its present global role, and more particularly its role as European lingua franca. Six of these arguments are first presented in outline, then addressed in this introductory chapter.

Inglesac assumitcea hizkuntza globaaren rola ez da, halere, guztiz controversia gabeco assumptua. Bitartean ece lingua franca baten disponibilitateac laguntcen du haric eta natio stadu individualec irabazteko profil international areagocoa, coexistentzia hizkuntza bat nationala eta bat internationala ez da beti izaten problemarik gabea; hainbat argumentu nagusi agertu izan dira cera dela-ta, Inglesa eduki eta promotionatu oraingo bere rol globalean, eta gehiago particularki bere rola celan Europako lingua franca.
Argumentu horietarik sei presentatcen dira gaingiroki lehenic, eta ostean zuzenduac capitulu introductorio honetan.

Linguistic imperialism

The first argument concerns the hotly debated issue of linguistic hegemony, also known as 'linguistic imperialism' (see for example Phillipson, 1992 and Phillipson and Skutnabb-Kangas, 1999). Concern has been voiced that the needs of developing countries are better met through linguistic expertise used to help promote their own national languages than through the English-language programmes offered by Western, post-colonial powers. In a European context, as the use of English for cross-national communication makes inroads into an increasing number of specialist domains and activities, warning voices point to the risk of erosion of the European Union (EU) commitment to cultural and linguistic diversity of its member states (Phillipson, 2003).

A related issue resulting from the expanding use of English in many different spheres of activity – not only within the European Union – is its linguistic influence on many of the languages of the world. Given the tendency for languages with small numbers of speakers to be nudged out by languages spoken by many, it is estimated that in a hundred years' time about 3000 languages may have become extinct. According to some estimates, there are about 6500 languages in the world, about half of which are likely to cease to exist within that time period (Crystal, 2003, personal communication)! This means that on average, every two weeks, somewhere in the world, a language becomes extinct. Since 96% of the world's languages are spoken by only 4% of its people, it is hardly surprising that many of them may feel under threat.

Global English: Language change and language use

For speakers with English as their first language, the development of English as a means of international communication constitutes another, closely linked issue of concern. Signs of global English developing as a homogenised 'reduced standardised form of language for supra-cultural communication' (Barber, 1992, discussed in Snell-Hornby, 2000: 36) have made some mother tongue speakers fear that, in the process of becoming common property, their native tongue is turning into a 'hybrid' language, sometimes referred to as Eurospeak within the European Union and more broadly as 'McLanguage', reflecting the globalised nature of the modern commercial world (Snell-Hornby, 1999). Concern has also been expressed about the uniqueness and survival of some of the European languages spoken by small numbers of speakers. According to some, English is making visible inroads into their grammar and vocabulary and is therefore perceived as an accelerating force hastening their journey towards extinction to state the extreme case. Hence, linguistic developments in the context of global English constitute the second, topical issue to be addressed here in this volume.

English and translation

Closely linked to the linguistic problems developing in the wake of global English is the third issue: the need for non-mother tongue speakers to communicate and often translate into a language which is not their own (what Emma Wagner calls 'two-way translation', see this volume). This is already the case among first-generation immigrants in countriessuch as Australia (see Campbell, 1998); in Europe, the same situation pertains in countries such as Finland, where languages of limited diffusion are spoken (see Mackenzie, 1998: 15-19). The enlargement of the EU with its anticipated array of additional languages is likely to intensify even further discussions about the continuing usefulness of the concept of the 'native speaker'. Projections show that the balance between first-language and second-language speakers of English is changing. According to Graddol (1999), the number of second-language speakers will overtake that of first-language speakers within the next 50 years. Others maintain that this has already happened (Davies, 2003: 160; Jenkins, 2003: 2).

Any discussion about the language of a nation also needs to consider its literary traditions and its link with social identity; the influence of English on the languages of Europe also has important implications for translation. At the moment, the present linguistic stronghold of English is matched by the central position held by the Anglo-American literary tradition in Europe, sufficiently firmly established for translated literary works from other languages to be assigned more peripheral positions (see Even Zohar, 1978 and 1990). Hence, for European literature to travel successfully in translation into English, adjustments are often required in order to ensure that European literary imports fit the literary traditions prevailing in the receiving anglophone target culture, not infrequently at the cost of reducing the element of 'foreignness' in the original (see Venuti, 1995).

Language learning and teaching: Some implications of global English

The rapid spread of English has also been quoted as a possible factor underlining the present decline in interest among European students in the study of modern languages, a side effect of the use of an international language for purposes of cross-national communication. Nevertheless, there is evidence in the UK, for example, that graduates with a knowledge of modern-languages other than English are highly employable by industry. One account estimates that modern-language graduates have lower unemployment rates than those in Business/Administration, Engineering/Technology and Computing' but claims that not enough UK businesses are aware of the consequences of using only English. The development of English into the language in which many European citizens now tend to communicate with each other therefore raises the question of the way forward for modern-language teaching, not only in the UK but also elsewhere in Europe. While the approach which has most recently informed modern-language pedagogy places primary emphasis on listening comprehension and speaking the foreign language, with the emergence of a European lingua franca, a shift to the early development of reading and translation skills may more accurately reflect the needs of an enlarged Europe. Concentrating on the learning of a closely defined set of skills might help to ensure a continued supply of linguists with a knowledge of the less commonly known languages of Europe. A further step towards protecting such languages might be the introduction of a language policy following the precedents of Australia and South Africa (Phillipson, 2003).

The nature of the beast: What is International English?

For such a widespread and widely discussed phenomenon, it is surprisingly difficult to identify a commonly accepted definition of standard international English. According to McArthur, the term 'international English' stems from the 1980s and is also known as international standard English. He defines it as: 'the standard form of English conceived as an international language; international English in its standard form' (1992: 984). Similarly, in the case of English as the lingua franca of Europe, there appears to be little available data on the characteristics of this variety of English for purposes of cross-national communication (for details of an ongoing research project, see James, 2000). Hence the fifth and penultimate topic in the discussion of the present position of English includes some observations on the direction of this new variety of English now emerging.


As cross-national communication among European nationals increases, so does the need for greater understanding of social and cultural divides. In the act of communication, knowledge of a shared lingua franca may go a long way in the pursuit of mutually beneficial social intercourse; there are, however, additional factors that come into play, affecting the way speakers make use of a language other than their own and the way first-language interlocutors interact in such situations. Of considerable importance is an understanding of the prevailing social and cultural traditions which speakers, unwittingly, bring with them from their own language to a communicative situation. As a result, a successful cross-national exchange often requires pragmatic as well as linguistic competence, the sixth topic aired in this chapter, including a discussion of some of the factors concerned with the pragmatic competence required to use language appropriately in different contexts.

In the remainder of Chapter 1 we consider in greater detail these different issues in relation to the position of English as a global language and, in particular, its role as the lingua franca of Europe.

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