Cet ouvrage n’est pas une contribution de plus sur le plurilinguisme mais une analyse à la fois des discours scientifiques portés sur le plurilinguisme et des politiques linguistiques et éducatives menées au nom de la pluralité des langues. C’est un ouvrage qui entend bousculer la nouvelle doxa plurilingue et enrayer le cycle de reproduction sans fin des discours convenus sur le plurilinguisme.
“More languages means more English”: Language death, linguistic sentimentalism and English as a lingua franca
“A language dies every two weeks.” Popular wisdom has adopted David Crystal’s (2000) plausible approximation as a hard-and-fast statistic, though he would be the first to surround it with all sorts of caveats, not the least of which is the difficulty of identifying and enumerating separate and distinct ‘languages’, since that is an activity which has more in common with counting the waves of the sea rather than the pebbles on the beach. Crystal based his calculation on the “best estimate” that there are at present some 6,000 languages in the world, 96% of which are spoken by just 4% of the total population. He concluded that by the end of the century half of those languages will have become extinct, a prospect he calls “the crisis of the millennium” and, indeed, one that no-one with the slightest interest in language or languages could fail to take seriously. (cf; Fishman 1991; Grenoble and Whaley 1998; Nettle and Romaine 2002; Abley 2005; Harrison 2008). But like most truths universally acknowledged, this one has given rise to a great deal of commentary, some of it cogent and responsible, but some of it uninformed, unrealistic or misplaced.
What follows is an attempt to disentangle certain of these issues and, in particular, to question some of the conclusions which have been ← 7 | 8 → drawn from the forecasts of widespread and imminent language death and of the inevitable world hegemony of English.
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