Themes on Linguistic Diversity Encountered in the Plenary Debates of the European Parliament 2000-2003.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This research focuses on contributions – oral and written – on the topic of linguistic diversity made by Members of the European Parliament during the plenary sessions from 2000 to 2003 inclusive and analyses the attitudes expressed by Members towards the concept of linguistic diversity, particularly as it applies to the national languages and the regional autochthonous languages of Member States. The analysis is set within a framework consisting of contemporary academic work and the classic work by Johann Gottfried von Herder and the German Philosophen. The European Year of Languages 2001 was widely supported by the European Commission; but an important question seemed to be what significance, if any, did maintaining linguistic diversity have for Members of the European Parliament in the years immediately following 2001. This research set out to discover to what extent issues related to linguistic diversity were given expression to in the plenary debates from 2000 to 2003, the years corresponding essentially to the fifth parliamentary term. Was only lip service paid to linguistic diversity in the years 2000 – 2003? Or did the European Year of Languages focus the attention of parliamentarians from all political groups in an ongoing way on issues of language use and preservation in the European Union, especially since the Union was to be significantly enlarged by the addition of ten Member States on January 1, 2004? Did the MEPs recognise that there were social and economic benefits accruing from pursuing policies of linguistic diversity? How important was linguistic diversity to the essence of the European Union in the eyes of its Members of Parliament? To what extent did MEPs espouse the use of just one language as a preferred method of communication in and around the Parliament? How much respect was there for the regional and minority indigenous languages of the European Union? Did MEPs regard linguistic diversity as an important consideration in determining the suitability of other countries seeking accession? The research reviews the response from the Commission in subsequent years to the views articulated by the MEPs. Finally, are there lessons in any of this for New Zealand?