Reference : Friend or foe? The discourse of the rise of English in Luxembourg
Diverse speeches and writings : Article for general public
Arts & humanities : Languages & linguistics
Multilingualism and Intercultural Studies
Friend or foe? The discourse of the rise of English in Luxembourg
De Bres, Julia mailto [University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education (FLSHASE) > Identités, Politiques, Sociétés, Espaces (IPSE) >]
Forum für Politik, Gesellschaft und Kultur in Luxemburg
Forum a.s.b.l
[en] language ideologies ; English ; Luxembourg
[en] ‘Gëtt hei geschwë méi Englesch wéi Franséich geschriwwen?’ (‘Will English soon be written here more than French?’) was the question asked by an article on Radio 100,7’s website last April. The article was about a conference on languages in literature in Luxembourg, and noted that English was taking on ‘ever greater importance’ in this field. True or not, this illustrates a trend that I call the discourse of the rise of English in Luxembourg. This discourse assumes a zero-sum game where one language can only prosper at the expense of another, and where English is given a privileged status alongside Luxembourg’s official languages: Luxembourgish, French and German. Like all such discourses, it represents a social construction rather than a ‘truth’ about language, and its promoters are seeking to advance certain social interests. From a discursive point of view, it is less important to determine whether the use of English is indeed rising in Luxembourg than it is to explore what people are trying to achieve with this discourse, that is, what interests they are seeking to advance by claiming that English is on the rise. There is no research to date that specifically focuses on discourses about English in Luxembourg, but such discourses do appear in research on sociolinguistic issues more generally in the country. This is the case with my own research and teaching at the University of Luxembourg, in areas including the language ideologies of cross-border workers, young people’s use of English, and language use on social media. My aim here is to consider how the discourse of the rise of English is constructed in these domains, how people respond to it, and what the potential social effects are.

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