Conceptualizing ‘English’ for a multilingual Europe

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The growing importance of English in multilingual Europe poses a dilemma: a common language is important for communal integration, but at the same time it is perceived as threatening European multilingualism. Faced with this quandary, it is crucial how ‘English’ is conceptualized. It is not possible to resolve the dilemma while upholding traditional concepts of European languages essentially mapped onto nation states. Therefore this paper argues for the need to conceptualize English as a Lingua Franca (ELF) that is not subject to established native-speaker norms but can be, and is, appropriated by all its users. Only such conceptualization can result in ELF not competing with the various national languages but rather complementing them as a valuable part of Europeans’ multilingual repertoire.


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