The Scandinavian Languages and the European Community

By Henriksen, Carol | Scandinavian Studies, Fall 1992 | Go to article overview

The Scandinavian Languages and the European Community


Henriksen, Carol, Scandinavian Studies


POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, AND LINGUISTIC IDEALS

THIRTY-FIVE YEARS AFTER the founding of the European Economic Community (EEC), Jean Monnet's dream of a union of European states has become an indisputable reality. In 1986, the twelve European Community (EC) "member states" signed the Single European Act (SEA), among these Denmark; and many new membership candidates are soliciting membership from the Commission of the European Community in Brussels. Of the Scandinavian countries, the governments of Sweden and Finland have already delivered their official applications for membership in the European Union, and Norway, though still skeptical, is considering a similar move in the near future.(1)

If we consider that the primary task of the EC countries is to communicate and negotiate through the channels of EC institutions, then we must also recognize that the democratic way to accomplish this is for everyone to be able to communicate in his or her own language. Thus, it is natural to assume that the EC principle of "egalite dans la diversite" would also include linguistic equality. And, at least on paper, indeed it does where the member states' official national languages are concerned.

Article 217 of the treaty establishing the EEC stipulates that the rules governing the languages of Community institutions are to be determined by the Council of Ministers. A Council regulation of April 15, 1958 states that Dutch, French, German, and Italian are to be the official and working languages of the Community. When Denmark, Great Britain, and Ireland became members of the Community in 1973, Danish and English were added to the list of official working languages. With Greek membership in 1981 and Portuguese and Spanish membership in 1986, the number of official EC languages is presently nine. Among these, Danish is the smallest.(2) Currently, no member country is required to use a language not its own when participating in the official EC decision making process. But there is a difference between having linguistic rights on paper and exercising them without causing irritation and delay. Denmark's current situation--the extent to which Danish is used in connection with the "democratic processes" of the EC--reveals deficits on both linguistic and political fronts.

The goal of erasing national borders from the map of Europe allowing people, goods, services, and capital to move freely within the geographic area belonging to EC member states has not been accompanied by the desire to erase linguistic barriers. This is a rather unique situation considering the fact that organizations like the Council of Europe, UNO, NATO, OECD, and EFTA have few official languages, and sometimes only one. The multilingual linguistic ideals of the European Community are indeed idealistic.

COMMUNITY MULTILINGUALISM IN PRACTICE

Sociolinguistics teaches that power and language usage go hand in hand, and the European Community is no exception. Behind the scenes, French has asserted itself as the dominant language from the beginning. It was the official language, or one of the official languages, of three of the six countries founding the EC, and these French-speaking countries have cleverly supported their linguistic position structurally by seeing to it that all EC institutions were placed in French-speaking countries. The Commission and the Council are located in Brussels, a city with a French-speaking majority. The Court of Justice and the European Investment Bank are located in Luxembourg, where French is the most important administrative language. And the European Parliament is located in Strasbourg, a bilingual city with French as its official language. When Great Britian and Ireland became members in 1973, English quickly moved into a close second place due to its position as a global lingua franca. With respect to population, we might also expect Italy, Spain, and Germany to provide competition, but size alone is apparently not enough. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Scandinavian Languages and the European Community
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.