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Multilingualism and English in Twenty-First-Century Europe

Recent Developments and Challenges


Clive W. Earls

This book aims to tackle one of the most controversial and important linguistic, educational and societal debates in contemporary Europe. English is growing rapidly within, and spreading across, an increasing number of areas of society. This development is influenced by actions taken by national and supranational decision-makers, as well as global forces outside the control of any one state or political union. Europe’s founding principle of respecting and fostering diversity and equality of cultures and languages is being affected by the growing role of English across European countries, creating a de facto linguistic hierarchy and consequently a potential cultural hierarchy.

The essays collected here aim to examine existing debates and stimulate further discourse on the nurturing of multilingualism in Europe and the concomitant acquisition of English. By bringing together contributions focusing on multiple European countries and regions by researchers from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds, this volume presents a snapshot of the current relationship between multilingualism and English and explores the challenges generated by this situation.

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The emergence of English in the multilingual linguistic landscape of Donostia-San Sebastián



This study focuses on the emergence of English in the multilingual linguistic landscape in the northern Spanish city of Donostia-San Sebastián, an eminently touristic and cosmopolitan city in the Spanish Basque Country where Spanish and Basque, a minority language, are spoken. Even though traditionally these two languages have competed for a presence on language signs, English has become ever more present in the linguistic landscape of the city during the last decade. This paper analyses the use of English as an international language as compared to Spanish, Basque and French on language signs from government and institutional sources versus those from the private sector. The findings indicate that there are significant differences between the public and the private sphere in their motivation behind the use of English.

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