English as a lingua franca: A threat to multilingualism? Juliane House [email protected] http://www.uni-hamburg.de/fachbereiche-einrichtungen/sfb538/ 1. Clarifying the term „English as a lingua franca (ELF) 2. ELF as a threat to multilingualism or a chance for global understanding from three perspectives: (1) socio-political (2) linguistic (3) psycholinguistic (linguistic relativity) 3. Conclusion 1. ‚English as lingua franca’ (ELF) Functional flexibility, global spread over many domains of language use, openness for foreign forms (Firth 1996) Decreasing influence of „inner circle“ (Kachru 1992) as a hegemonic variety ELF is not a language for specific purposes, a pidgin- or creole language, „foreigner talk“ or learner language The interlanguage paradigm is inadequate The multilingual individual and its „multicompetence“ as norm (Cook 1992) Simultaneous activation of L1 und ELF (Grosjean 2001) ELF as „register“ (Widdowson 2003) and as a language for communication (House 2003) Crucial difference between a language for communication and a language for identification 2. ELF viewed from three perspectives (1) The socio-political perspective Why English? Crystal‘s (1997) so-called „triumphalism“. Former British empire, present day US global power Preference for a „simple language?“ ELF as Threat, Killer Language, Agent of Linguistic Imperialism? Voluntary use of ELF as language with wide communicative range Subjectively felt difference between languages for communication and for identification Artificial dichotomy through assumption of monolingual individuals and societies ELF as language for communication und L1(s) as language(s) for identification are NOT in competition, but supplement each other “I really don’t mind speaking English at all, I speak it fairly well – and I have to in this multinational company. But German, my mother tongue, is something completely different. German will for me be linked for ever with my childhood, my family, my grandparents and my dreams” (MCInt 13,3) "As for English I do speak the language but I don't think I'll ever talk it. English flows from the mind to the tongue and then to the pages of books... I only talk Vietnamese. I talk it with all my senses. Vietnamese does not stop on my tongue, but flows with the warm, soothing lotus tea down my throat like a river giving life to the landscape in her path. It rises to my mind along the vivid images of my grandmother's house and my grandmother...“ (Kramsch 2002: 98-99). “Linguistic Human Rights” ? ELF speakers often know what they’re doing when they choose to use ELF De Swaan: “Alas, what decides is not the right of human beings to speak whatever language they wish, but the freedom of everybody else to ignore what they say in the language of their choice.” (2001:52) Double Bind Situation for ELF speakers A Chinese colleague from Hongkong: "I always feel that non-native speakers of English are forever caught in a kind of double bind. Take for example those of us who were brought up in Hong Kong. I got criticized at school and at university if I didn't speak English, but I also got criticized (mostly by those who pretended to be politically correct) if I spoke English. It was only in the last few years that I stopped wishing I had two mouths. English, I believe, can never replace our mother tongue, certainly not where the emotional intensity of feelings is concerned.“ Paradox: Use of ELF as language for communication often provokes and strengthens use of indigenous languages and dialects for identification purposes and as a vehicle of protest against ELF dominance Strong counter-currents even in modern music scene and INTERNET, classic „killers“ of other languages: ELF and native varieties increasingly coexist or merge - Expression of Chinese rhetorical traditions in medium of English (Bloch 2004) - New „mixed varieties“ of ELF and Chinese used to demonstrate and expand their multilingual competence (Lam 2004) (2) The Linguistic Perspective Main argument against ELF: Disadvantage of non-native speakers („reduced personality“) Results of empirical studies of ELF interactions contradict this claim (Firth 1996; House 2002; Lesznyák 2004) No misunderstandings, no repairs (stark contrast to native/non-native interactions) Tolerant “Let-it-Pass“ behaviour, „Robustness“ and „Normality“ of ELF talk despite its „seemingly linguistically lawless nature“ (Firth and Wagner, to appear) The Hamburg ELF Project Data Basis 1. Interactions in L1 English 2. Interactions between L1 English speakers and ELF speakers 3. ELF interactions between speakers of different L1s 4. Retrospective interviews re 3 for collaborative interpretation Results: Confirmation of previous findings Three further ELF characteristics. 1. Transfer of L1 Discourse Conventions Example: Asian ELF speakers‘ tendency towards cyclical topic management. Result: Non-sequitur turns. This is however consistently ignored by other participants: Discourse remains totally „normal“ and „ordinary“. DATA Excerpt 1 Joy: Does maybe the nationalism erm in Quebec Wei: For us we don't have problem I mean Asian people Chinese for example ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Brit: I've seen several movies in Japanese recently like Manga Comics are very popular Wei: Since perhaps twenty years (2 sec) a lot of Chinese people began to learn a second foreign language it’s..@ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Joy: When you speak English so you can @ translate in English or you can use the one language and not three languages Wei: You know the problem is Taiwan Hongkong and Mainland China and the different and the difference (2 sec) how to say and the very different history this is the problem @ ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Brit: But people have an interest in keeping their languages (1 sec) like Wales or erm in Ireland they try to revive the Gaelic Irish (2sec) I think it's got something to do with identity Wei: I think in South-East Asia perhaps the first foreign language be English and a second foreign language perhaps Japanese or German (5sec) perhaps a Chinese 2. Frequency of Multi-functional Gambit „Represent“ (Edmondson and House 1981): (Parts of) previous speaker‘s moves are “represented“ - Why? Supports working memory in comprehension and production Creates coherence (construction of lexicalparadigmatic clusters) Signals receipt and confirms understanding Functions as meta-communicative procedure, thus strengthening awareness Data Excerpt 2 Joy: And you mean that English (2sec) is really getting important or taken for the education because the grammar is syntactic erm the grammar is very easy Wei: is easy is very easy Represents (also “echo-, “mirror- or “shadow elements“ ) are typical of psychotherapeutic interviews, instructional- and aircraft control discourse, where information is deliberately restated to create coherence ELF speakers‘ imitation of this convention is proof of their strategic competence! 3. Solidarity and consensus through co-conconstruction of utterances Demonstration of consensus in the face of cultural differences leads to a feeling of community and group identity (Tajfel 1981) ELF as egalitarian tool („We are all in the same boat“). Speakers support each other, even pay each other compliments („My English is I think very bad“----“No no no it’s much better than mine“, Firth und Wagner, to appear). Data Excerpt 3 Joy: I recently read an article in a Korean erm (2 sec) Moment (4 sec). Brit: Newspaper, Internet? Joy: Yes thank you @ erm the article is about new foreign language education in Japan Data Excerpt 4 Mau: I think it begins erm of course with the colonialism I think too because the history of this development how the language in the very early period erm (3 sec) Joy: Build up this basis Mau: Yes Joy: To be a world language Mau: Yes ELF users‘ strategic competence intact: They are able to carry out meaningful, normal discourse. No reduced personality syndrom! ELF as a useful tool for communication and understanding whenever no other common language available Another argument against ELF: It „contaminates“ other languages This argument can be relativised on the basis of the results of another empirical research project. The Project “Covert Translation“ in the German Science Foundation‘s Research Center on Multilingualism Intitial Hypothesis: Due to ELF‘s global status and massive uni-directional translations from English, it influences – over and above lexical invasions – communicative norms in other languages Communicative Norms English – German (House 1996) English Indirectness Orientation towards persons Implicitness Verbal routines German Imitation Change Directness Orientation towards content Explicitness Ad-hoc-Formulation interactional transactional involved detached Corpus English-German originals and translations (French and Spanish control texts) Popular Science Texts – Scientific American, New Scientist and their satellite journals – Micro-diachronic: 1978-1982; 1999-2002 – 500 000 Words Economic Texts – Annual reports by internationally operating companies Letters to shareholders, Missions, Visions, Corporate statements – Reverse Translation Relation: German-English, French/SpanishEnglish – 130 000 Words Method Combination of qualitative and quantitative methods Qualitative: House Translation Evaluation Model Quantitative: Frequency Counts Renewed qualitative analysis Three Phases of Study Phase 1: Qualitative Analyses - Result: differences in subjectivity and addressee orientation in originals and translations Phase 2: Quantification - Result: differences in frequency of linguistic means of expressing subjectivity and addresssee orientation Phase 3: Re-contextualising qualitative analyses: isolation of all occurrences of vulnerable elements - Manual annotation to locate co-occurences with e.g. tense, mood - Do equivalent elements occur in same linguistic context? - Are equivalent elements used for same communicative function? - translation relation, genre-contrastive Statistics: Multivariate analyses, complex co-occurrence patterns Refined Hypothesis: Increased frequency of certain means of realising subjectivity and addressee orientation in German texts over past 25 years imitating Anglophone communicative norms. E.g.: - Speaker-hearer deixis - Modality - Mental processes Popular science articles Orientation towards persons Genre-specific results Preliminary Results Changed use of certain forms expressing subjectivity and addressee orientation Only for German, not for French and Spanish texts! Interpretation Did communicative norms change because of direct contact with English in translation? Mono-causal interpretation of results too easy. Also: in some cases, originals change more than translations! At least three explanations: 1. The Booh-Faktor: Translation as Mediator of the English Take-over Translation EFFECTS change! 2. The X-Faktor: Universal Impact of Globalisation: Translation reflector of change, not instigator thereof Translation REFLECTS change! 3. The Green Factor: Translation as cultural conservation Translation RESISTS change! (3) Psycholinguistic Perspective (Linguistic Relativity) Claims that masssive import of English lexis influences thinking and concept formation in L1 is compatible with strong Humboldt-Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Accordingly, L1 speakers‘ thinking is exposed to „acts of organized violence“ through ELF, which damages their L1mediated knowledge This strong linguistic relativity hypothesis can be refuted for at least three reasons: 1. The universal possibility of translation (Jakobson 1966) 2. Languages in use are „anachronisms“: their forms do not normally rise to our consciousness (Ortega y Gasset 1960) 3. Converging evidence suggests that multilinguals possess a „deep“ common conceptual store to which „lower level“ language-specific systems are attached (Grosjean 2001; Myers-Scotton 2006) Neurolinguistic studies of translation (e.g. Altarriba 1992; Price et al 1999) show: multilinguals move flexibly from L1 to L2, and L2-L1, the two systems being distinct but permeable. With experts, processing often „shallow“, i.e., no semantic-conceptual processing at all (Sanford & Graesser 2006). No proof of a direct link of only one particular language to thinking and conceptualizing. Consequence: Increased use of ELF as language at tertiary levels of education must not necessarily inhibit knowledge in students‘ indigenous language. 3. Conclusion ELF not necessarily a threat to multilingualism. Useful tool for communication, additional language, never a substitute for L1s. Neurolinguistic studies of translation and codeswitching do not confirm that ELF inhibits or damages conceptualization in L1 ELF is both a pheno- and a geno-typically hybrid language: Transfer from L1 widespread. ELF users‘ L1s live on underneath the English surface! Because of ELF speakers‘ inner dialogicity evaluation norms should not be L1 English speakers‘ competence, but multilingual ELF experts. Influence of ELF on German, but not French and Spanish, communicative norms, confirmed for specific linguistic forms, origin however unclear. Association of ELF with global US economic power. English language is but an instrument. Power via language may lead to deplorable sameness, e.g. in service encounters in global chains (Cameron 2000). But: Mounting resistance! Challenge to the academy: instead of blaming ELF from academic distance, research that may help expose and change real social and political injustice, discrimination and oppression. Thank you very much!