Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Assignment I: Background of EU Language Issue

Assalaamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

I had chosen a topic for the blurry assignment of mine. I think I am going to do about European Language issue under global category. I am tired of politics but the course sure has to do with it, nonetheless.  

Further, I and Azren who was my colleague and also my senior in this master degree, were both products of Translation and Interpretation course under the Humanities Department so I think it would be easier if I try to relate my first degree with this further degree assignment.  I had done mistake in my thesis, so I don't want to think about this so much. It's a waste of time.

Urmm, this is a Science University anyway... So, we are not so significant like those in Science Streams like Pharmacology, Computer Science, Engineering, Medical, Biology, Zoology, Physics, and etc. I am sure that our Humanities lecturers would also be frustrated because they are not appreciated but just melukut kat sebelah gantang, hahahahaha... I am sorry, ternakal sedikit ini malam jangan marah nooo.  

I am not sure whether European Union (EU) has a specific policy or rules regarding language usage in the institution but it is said that they have language policy. According to Azren, EU is trying to promote multilingualism and it is between institutions such as council, commission, and the parliament. It is to make them easier to communicate among each other. 

However, among member states, they are opposing each other. I was like curious on why not the EU only use a working language? For example maybe using English as working language as it is widely known and spoken not only in the EU but also around the world. Azren says that other member states do not want to accept English. They wanted their languages to be preserved and used in conferences too. All of member states in the EU wanted their national languages to be the main language.   

Then another question, how to conceptualize this? Can we use Europeanization theory? Maybe English is not enough Europe for other member states since it is also a language used in the global arena? Europeanization perhaps could be used as a theory to conceptualize this matter, but Europeanization seems more to the advantage for EU to expand their empire to other neighboring states who are not apart the Union.

From the article published in the Telegraph today, I noticed that France has set up a custodian to curb English intervention in French and to ban the usage of English within their territory. They are quite fierce regarding their national language as compared to British. Recently, they had just removed the restriction to learn new foreign language. Before this, migrants in France could also learn their mother tongue, but later France had cancelled the program. It is due to that, the program was not in accordance to the 5th Principle of the French Revolution in order to promote One French.  

So, we could see from this case of France, the language policy of EU seems quite misty. It seems like nationalism is still controlling member states and it is against One Common European proposed by Europeanization. Irritatingly, the rules of EU clearly shows that the policy for multilingualism is there but member states still could not tolerate each other within the bound of their territory. Is there any treaties clearly shows the reference to a common language policy or multilingualism? To answer this question, every member state would say that they are abiding to European Language Policy rules. However, when we ask member states' citizen regarding the policy on language, they do not even know about the European Language Policy. It looks like they never notice it.

In the case of France, it seems like they are opposing the UK. It is not only about language issue. I thought that when they are in the EU, everything would be in common including their past enmity regarding nationalism. Is that because France is afraid of the UK becoming superior over them, as the influence of the UK penetrating her citizen daily life, thinking and speech? And it also could do with immigrants would belittle their political model of assimilation when immigrants too would try to go on with their mother tongue if France permit other languages especially English penetrating her citizen? 

As for example in Malaysia, we have a clause in constitution article 152 regarding the position of Malay language as national language. Malay is strictly used in governmental documentation while for private sectors, private medias and for legislative usage, English and other languages could still be used. The difference between Malaysia and EU is that EU is an organization and it is not a country like Malaysia. Member States could still exercise their sovereignty regarding national language and nationalism? Then, where is the notion of unity if they could not even tolerate the language of each other? This issue does not only happened to France, but also to Germany, and Holland. However, not as strong sentiment as France where they still permit their citizen learn other languages.   

Azren had done a thesis about Sweden and France for a comparison in their language policy. It shows that Sweden is a bit more like Malaysia in term of tolerance toward other language such as English. They don't really care about language as it could also benefit their citizen and the country itself. When I read the issue, I think that France seems fierce with English. And I think that it is just silly to ignore English since it is a language globally used, so how could France survive, dodging English and being isolated? Even if they have problem with the UK but that is another issue. And further I think that English would be a nightmare for France if it becomes the main language in term of legislative purpose or other working session. If France permits English in EU official dealings, it will show that English had won over them. 

While outside the EU, the US is influencing the world with English. In unipolar world today, English sure has its place and a must as it is agreed to be a medium for international dealings. This is a bit International Relation, under Globalization. Language shows political influence too. There are some people who support English as many movies and TV series are also imported from the Hollywood. Those medias had already impose English as a global culture through Americanism. That is why most major member states in the EU trying to avoid the usage of English. Bear in mind that, it is not only France. 

Another angle to see, we should have discussion at institutions level which are the parliament, council and commission. There is also discussion at member states' level and discussion within national parliaments. Layers of bureaucracy? We have to differentiate discussions on all of these levels and their explanations. Language issue in EU has 3 levels. This is not my idea but Azren's as he did thesis about this, so for sure he understood this matter more. First level, between institutions. Second level between member states. Third level within the individual state. 

As for the argument, lecturer might say that it is not a problem since in other member states, there still are foreign language learning. But the case of France is a different case and unique by itself. Since it has relation with patriotism, nationalism, and their history which is the French Revolution. It is not a simple thing to be solved regarding French attitude and sentiment toward their language and culture even within EU framework. They even restricting the usage of native Brittany minority language and promoting French as the medium for unification among citizens. So, what is with the multilingualism in the EU Language Policy when it comes to France? Usually lecturers would see this as a one way level which is only between member states level, and not further, between individual member state with EU institutions. Each member states trying to influence the EU regarding language usage in institutions and official events. France for example trying to impose a ban on English even in the EU level and not only in her territory. 

In EU level of course there is no problem since they have translation body. However the question will come to the mind when the staffs of EU institutions come from all over EU and most of them are talking and working with their own languages and would it be a problem if staffs could not understand each other while communicating in different languages and no common working language? Language is a political issue too.

This is my experience while in train, two couple from French Mauritius have had problem with Thai Train attendant when they are ordering juice and breakfast. So, they tried to ask me to help them dealing with the Thai lady that they did not ordering extra sandwiches. Later I sat and talked with the couple. Luckily the wife is an Indian so she could speak in English. The husband speaks very little English and I do not know whether he understands English or not. I just consider him as faking that he does not understand English. He seems reluctant to speak in English and keep talking in French. I don't know what is actually their problem? Is it because of their past time bitterness? Weird people because they are now in a Union...

Member states still are using their own languages in parliament, council and commission. It also makes all member states do not want to lose up their languages even in EU parliament. They do not want to compromise with any languages chosen to be the only language for official events like English. In this argument, it crosses EU institutions' staffs, member states, and European Language Policy (ELP) implementation. 

In this case, why not use that hybrid language, Esperanto? Like Urdu is used by Muslims in India regardless ethnicity background and it has no geographical boundaries? There is also a journal talking about EU should choose only one working language. But the problem is no one could compromise it if it is a language with geographical boundary according to a state. And further ELP is about multilingualism. And then we have France with her sentiment over their patriotism and assimilation model of integration process for citizenship definition. If using English as the only working language, would France think that the language is dominating her? Her cultural and language sovereignty is now trampled by the UK?  

If we see language issue seriously, it could also be a factor for division. Pakistan was divided into Pakistan and Bangladesh due to national language issue. The Bengals wanted their language to be used widely in their territory and not Urdu to dominate them. Because of language issue, they had been separated from Pakistan. Could this issue be a factor for EU being divided too after this? Maybe the UK or France opting out to maintain their language, culture, nationalism and political sovereignty over it? This is in socio-political angle. 

However in term of economy, wouldn't they be together? The problem is non-affluent member states who receive assistant from founding fathers do not really think about language but they have to concentrate on their economic level and standard to maintain within after their ascension. So, now the point member states are together is because of 'money.' Personally, I don't think that this is a holistic union, hehehehe. Azren says that to criticize the EU, we have to really look into the matter as lecturers might say that the EU is 'generally' in peace and prosperity. But when we look at the scope discreetly, there still are loopholes. France, Germany, and the UK with language and nationalism problems. Rich member states with their problems. Poor member states like Greece and Italy with their problem dragging the EU into economic problem. Everything in lecturers' eyes are OK. If everything is OK, for what are we learning and being dizzy with the EU? This is what Azren says. He has his points and I agree with him

I believe in Divine view. Everything which we look as perfect in this world is not really perfect because only the God is perfect. This studies is a headache because "human proclaiming themselves better than others including they surpassing the God who is the Creator of everything which exists." It is very simple when I think this way as it is not a problem at all. Human are those who creates problems and now my head is also heavy. This is the difference between when we have faith with the God and those who believe that they are so Great. Takabbur, 'ujub, riyaa'... People who believe in the God must be humble and never claim they are Great... Only the God is the Great... This term Allahu Akbar which means the God is the Greatest is always being mocked by those who has diseases in their heart, show off, boasting, surprised of themselves as they think they are the Greatest in everything, and arrogant... Narcissism... The character of 'the fallen angel'... I'm actually sick of this world... Thanks to Azren for the discussion, really appreciate the explanations... Siap sepasai, we need to re-arrange this nicely and show this to lecturer with the omission of off-records tuttttttttt... His Will...      

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace, and love, amin!!!

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