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EUC Lecture: "Language Attitudes, Regional Loyalty, and the Implications of Regional Language Maintenance for the EU's Strategic Goals on Multilingualism

Event Type
European Union Center at the University of Illinois
Foreign Languages Building, Room 1080 (Lucy Ellis Lounge)
Oct 28, 2016   12:00 pm  
Prof. Zsuzanna Fagyal, French & Italian, U of I
Kim Rice
Originating Calendar
European Union Center Events


Since the adoption of the Barcelona objective (2002) and Communication 566 on Multilingualism (2008), the European Commission has worked extensively with the Council of Europe, national governments, and various civil society platforms to implement the EU’s multilingualism policy that strives to protect Europe’s linguistic diversity and promote language learning. Framed as an issue of social cohesion, human rights, and economic competitiveness, multilingualism has been declared an asset and a strategic goal to attain from a young age via mobility and national language learning. In this presentation, I will argue that the effective and durable development of multilingual repertoires should also focus on micro-level social factors and local identity that are not typically reported in official polls and reports. By contrasting EU statistics on multilingualism with fieldwork data on language use and attitudes in two regions of francophone Europe, I will show that the most promising targets of multilingual and multicultural development appear to be young speakers of regional minority languages. Their strong but inclusive regional identities allow local, national, and transnational identities to coexist and, thus, facilitate the parallel use of languages in multiple domains of communication.

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