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Transdisciplinary Discourses on Cross-Border Cooperation in Europe


Edited By Joachim Beck

In the context of European integration, cross-border cooperation has become increasingly important. Following both the quantitative and qualitative expansion of this policy-field, it has repeatedly been the subject of scientific analysis in the past. However, as a result of the classical differentiation of the scientific system, it was mostly viewed from a monodisciplinary perspective. This publication aims at the foundation of a trans-disciplinary research approach in the field of European cross-border cooperation. It takes the multi-dimensional reality of practical territorial cooperation in Europe as a starting point and develops a transdisciplinary scientific approach. Based on a common analytic frame of reference, practical patterns of cross-border policy-making in different European border regions are analyzed from the integrated theoretical perspectives of various scientific disciplines: Political Science, Geography, Sociology, History, Law, Cultural Sciences and Socio-Linguistics, Economics and Administrative Science. The scientific conceptualizations are expanded by reports from practitioners coming from different institutional and functional levels of European cross-border policy-making.

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Borders and cross-border cooperation. The Vision of sociolinguistics (Jordi Cicres)


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Borders and cross-border cooperation. The Vision of sociolinguistics


1.  Introduction

According to the myth of Babel, God punished humanity by confounding their languages. Today, it is calculated that around 7,000 languages survive around the world (Gordon, 2005). Most languages are found in Asia (32.8% of living languages) and Africa (30.3%), followed by the Pacific region (19%) and the American continent (14.5%). With 239 languages, Europe accounts for a mere 3.5% of linguistic diversity, largely due to homogenising policies which, from the 17th century onwards in particular, promoted unified nation states (not only political homogenisation but also linguistic, based on the principle of “one language, one state, one people”). By contrast, when we analyse the number of speakers per language, in Europe (which accounts for 26.3% of the world population) the average number exceeds 6 million people (in contrast to the little over 4,600 speakers, on average, who speak a Pacific language).

These 7,000 languages are distributed across the two hundred member countries of the UN. It is clear from this that most states are multilingual and that the borders between states do not coincide with the borders between languages. Nevertheless, the borders between languages are neither clear nor static, in the sense that “linguistic reality is not comprised of homogenous languages that are juxtaposed like pieces in a jigsaw, but rather dialectal continuums with more or less fluid separations, transition areas, overlapping zones,...

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