Philippe Van Parijs: Linguistic justice for Europe & for the World Archive
The rise of English as a tool for justice and a source of injustice
Tuesday 28 February 2012 - 19:30
Beursschouwburg, A. Ortsstraat 20-28, 1000 Brussels
Knowledge of the English language is spreading worldwide more rapidly than ever before. In his new book, Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World, the economist and philosopher Philippe Van Parijs (UCLouvain, Oxford University) states that the dissemination of English as a lingua franca must be encouraged but that the resulting injustices must actively be countered. To this end, Van Parijs proposes controversial methods such as the poaching of the web and the linguistic territoriality principle. On the 28th of February Philippe Van Parijs will expand on his views, with a special emphasis on their implications for the European institutions and for the capital city of the European Union. After his talk he will be interviewed by Luc Devoldere (editor-in-chief Ons Erfdeel and yearbook The Low Countries. Arts and Society in Flanders and the Netherlands).
About the book
In Europe and throughout the world, competence in English is spreading at a speed never achieved by any language in human history. This apparently irresistible growing dominance of English is frequently perceived and sometimes indignantly denounced as being grossly unjust. Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World starts off arguing that the dissemination of competence in a common lingua franca is a process to be welcomed and accelerated, most fundamentally because it provides the struggle for greater justice in Europe and in the world with an essential weapon: a cheap medium of communication and of mobilization.
However, the resulting linguistic situation can plausibly be regarded as unjust in three distinct senses. Firstly, the adoption of one natural language as the lingua franca implies that its native speakers are getting a free ride by benefiting costlessly from the learning effort of others. Secondly, they gain greater opportunities as a result of competence in their native language becoming a more valuable asset. And thirdly the privilege systematically given to one language fails to show equal respect for the various languages with which different portions of the population concerned identify.
Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World spells out the corresponding interpretations of linguistic justice as cooperative justice, distributive justice and parity of esteem, respectively. And it discusses systematically a wide range of policies that might help achieve linguistic justice in these three senses, from a linguistic tax on Anglophone countries to the banning of dubbing or the linguistic territoriality principle. Against this background, the book argues that linguistic diversity is not valuable in itself but it will nonetheless need to be protected as a by-product of the pursuit of linguistic diversity as parity of esteem.
About Philippe Van Parijs
Philippe Van Parijs is professor at the University of Louvain, where he has been directing the Hoover Chair of Economic and Social Ethics since its creation in 1991. After having taught at Harvard's Philosophy Department for several years he is now a regular Visiting Professor at the Universities of Oxford and Leuven. He chairs the International Board of the Basic Income Earth Network and co-ordinates (with Paul De Grauwe) the Re-Bel initiative ("Rethinking Belgium's Institutions in the European Context").
Organization: deBuren in collaboration with Beursschouwburg
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