Multilingualism and Optimal Language Policy in the EU

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Multilingualism and Optimal Language Policy in the EU. Jan Fidrmuc Brunel University. Stylized Facts. 6,912 living languages on Earth Most countries linguistically diverse. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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  • Multilingualism and Optimal Language Policy in the EU Jan FidrmucBrunel University

  • Stylized Facts6,912 living languages on Earth Most countries linguistically diverse. A few countries monolingual -- mostly small, remote and sparsely populated islands (e.g. Falkland islands, Saint Helena, Pitcairn), and. North Korea.Most European countries linguistically diverse. Most European countries: only a single official language.

  • Stylized Facts2% EU citizens multilingual 39% speak at least one foreign language 14% speak two or more foreign languages Source: Special Eurobarometer 243: Europeans and their Languages, November-December 2005.Except English, French, German, Spanish and Russian, most languages only spoken in their own countries

  • English

  • French

  • German

  • Russian

  • Stylized FactsLarge differences across age cohorts Only English seems to improve its relative standing over time

  • Stylized Facts: Attitudes67% Europeans think English is a useful language for one's personal development and career22-25% think so of German or French 10% think no language is usefulThe opinions on which languages children should learn are very similar2% think children should learn no foreign language

  • EU Multilingualism and Optimal Language PolicyOutlineMultilingualism in the EUSimple model of linguistic-policy choiceCost per language per person: average cost vs cost per disenfranchised personOptimal sequence of official languagesPolitical economy of a linguistic reform

  • EU MultilingualismEU in 1957: 6 members and 4 languagesEU in 2007: 27 members and 23 languagesSome official languages are spoken by manyGerman (85 mn), English (62 mn), French (61mn)Some official languages are notMaltese, Irish (0.4-0.6 mn)Some non-official languages spoken by manyCatalan (4.1 mn), Russian (4.2), Turkish (2.2 mn), Arabic (1.6 mn)

  • EU Multilingualism: ImplicationsEU treaties, regulations and decisions must be translated into all official languagesMost documents are prepared in English (62%), French (26%) or German (3%)Translation: 1.3 million pages per year (2002)2710 translators and additional 1900 other staffInterpretation: 50-60 meetings per day with 1-60 interpreters per meeting962 interpreters, plus 200 other staff

  • EU Multilingualism: ImplicationsLong backlog of documents to be translatedRelay translations increasingly usedMEPs are asked to use simple sentences and to avoid making jokes

  • EU Multilingualism: Future ProspectsOfficial status requested for Catalan, Valencian, Galician and Basque.Future enlargements: Croatian and Turkish.Alternatives: English only;English, French and German only;Esperanto;English (for everyone except English native speakers) and French (for English native speakers);Those whose languages are used should compensate the others;Self financing.

  • EU MultilingualismLanguage policy should facilitate communication effectively and efficiently Most nation-states implement restrictive language policy: single language typicalEU: extensive multilingualism This is effective but is it also efficient? Costs and benefits need to be considered

  • CostsEU25 at full speed: 1,045 million per year (17% of the administrative budget)Erroneous and/or confusing translationsMEPs are asked to use simple sentences and to avoid making jokesPotential for disagreements about interpretation of legal documentsDelays in implementation of legal/regulatory decisions

  • Benefits: Preventing Linguistic DisenfranchisementA person is linguistically disenfranchised (excluded) if the EU does not use a language that they understandNot all languages are equal: some are more popular than others Special Eurobaromenter 255: Europeans and their Languages, 2005Optimal language policy needs to reflect this

  • Model of Language Policy ChoiceUnion with n linguistic groupsPopulation of group j is NjPopulation of the union is N= Nj.Public good Language-dependentProvided in a core language Subsequently translated into other languages. Translation can be full or partialj ranges between 0 and 1Utility from receiving in ones own language: U(j), U(j)>0 and U(j)0

  • Model of Language Policy ChoiceIndividual utility from translation of under self-financingOptimal extent of translation, j, is chosen according toUtility from translation of under centralization

    and optimal extent of translation, , is chosen according to

  • Model of Language Policy Choice1.If all groups are equally sized, full sharing is preferred by all (except the core-language group):2. Optimal extent of translation regime depends on group size: full sharing results in over-provision of translation for small groups and under-provision for large groups.3.Groups of below-average size prefer full-sharing while above-average ones prefer self-financing.

  • Data on Language ProficiencyEurobaromenter 54: Special survey on languages, 2000.Candidate Countries Eurobarometer, 2001.Special Eurobaromenter 255: Europeans and their Languages, 2005Respondents asked about mothers tongue and other languages that they speak wellNationally representative surveyswe can extrapolate to get the number of speakers of different languages in EU countries

  • Not All Languages Equal

  • DisenfranchisementPeople are disenfranchised if the EU does not use a language that they understand.Only preventing disenfranchisement consideredNational pride, patriotism and international recognition are ignored.

  • Disenfranchisement (EB 2000-01)

  • Disenfranchisement corrected for proficiency (EB 2005)

  • Cost per LanguageTotal cost: 686 million in EU15, 1,045 million in EU25.Average cost per language per year: 68.6 million in EU15 and 55 million in EU25.Average cost per person: 1.8 in EU15 and 2.30 in EU25.There are important differences across languages.

  • Average Cost per Person/Language

    Pop

    Cost

    Pop

    Cost

    German

    90.1

    0.6

    Hungarian

    10.1

    5.4

    French

    64.5

    0.9

    Swedish

    8.9

    6.2

    English

    62.3

    0.9

    Slovak

    5.4

    10.2

    Italian

    57.6

    1.0

    Danish

    5.3

    10.4

    Spanish

    39.4

    1.4

    Finish

    5.1

    10.8

    Polish

    38.6

    1.4

    Lithuanian

    3.6

    15.3

    Dutch

    21.9

    2.5

    Latvian

    2.4

    22.9

    Greek

    11.3

    4.9

    Slovene

    2.0

    27.5

    Portuguese

    10.8

    5.1

    Estonian

    1.4

    39.3

    Czech

    10.3

    5.3

    Maltese

    0.4

    137.5

  • Cost per Disenfranchised PersonAverage cost misleading Calculation assumes that all speakers of non-official languages are disenfranchised Alternative: cost per language ( 55 million) divided by the number of those who would be disenfranchised if their language was left outAlternative scenarios: from English only to English-French-GermanStatic analysis, bargaining or sequencing not taken into account

  • Cost per Disenfranchised Person

    Total Population

    Disenfranchised Population (millions)

    Cost per person disenfranchised (EUR)

    E

    EF

    EG

    EFG

    E

    EF

    EG

    EFG

    English

    62.3

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    0

    French

    64.5

    37.5

    0

    36.6

    0

    1.5

    0

    1.5

    0

    German

    90.1

    42.1

    40.3

    0

    0

    1.3

    1.4

    0

    0

    Italian

    57.6

    35.1

    27.7

    34.0

    27.1

    1.6

    2.0

    1.6

    1.9

    Polish

    38.6

    30.9

    30.1

    25.9

    25.5

    1.8

    1.8

    2.1

    2.2

    Spanish

    39.4

    25.2

    22.5

    24.8

    22.1

    2.2

    2.4

    2.2

    2.5

    Hungarian

    10.1

    8.6

    8.5

    7.6

    7.5

    6.4

    6.5

    7.3

    7.3

    Portuguese

    10.8

    7.0

    6.4

    6.9

    6.3

    7.8

    8.6

    8.0

    8.8

    Greek

    11.3

    5.9

    5.9

    5.8

    5.7

    9.4

    9.4

    9.5

    9.7

    Czech

    10.3

    7.8

    7.8

    5.6

    5.5

    7.0

    7.1

    9.9

    10.0

  • Cost per Disenfranchised Person

    Total Population

    Disenfranchised Population (millions)

    Cost per person disenfranchised (EUR)

    E

    EF

    EG

    EFG

    E

    EF

    EG

    EFG

    Slovak

    5.4

    4.7

    4.6

    3.9

    3.8

    11.7

    11.8

    14.1

    14.3

    Dutch

    21.9

    8.4

    4.3

    5.6

    3.3

    6.5

    12.9

    9.8

    16.9

    Lithuanian

    3.6

    2.9

    2.8

    2.6

    2.5

    19.1

    19.3

    21.2

    21.7

    Finnish

    5.1

    2.0

    2.0

    1.9

    1.8

    27.7

    27.7

    29.1

    30.0

    Latvian

    2.4

    1.8

    1.8

    1.6

    1.6

    29.8

    30.2

    33.7

    34.2

    Swedish

    8.9

    1.9

    1.8

    1.7

    1.6

    29.4

    30.9

    32.5

    34.3

    Estonian

    1.4

    1.0

    1.0

    0.9

    0.9

    56.9

    56.9

    63.4

    63.7

    Danish

    5.3

    1.3

    1.3

    0.9

    0.9

    41.5

    43.2

    64.9

    64.9

    Slovene

    2.0

    0.9

    0.9

    0.6

    0.5

    58.5

    59.8

    98.2

    102.2

    Maltese

    0.4

    0.07

    0.07

    0.07

    0.07

    808.8

    808.8

    808.8

    831.3

  • Optimal Sets of Official LanguagesSelecting the optimal set of official languagesHow many?Which ones?The optimal se