Quo Vadis English? The Post-Brexit Position of English as a Working Language of the EU

Elżbieta Kużelewska
2020 International Journal for the Semiotics of Law  
"Brexit" as a word entered the European language's scene eight years ago as a term describing what seemed as a surrealistic scenario for the British. Since then, it has become the 'political word of 2016,' paved its way to the Oxford English Dictionary, and globally into the computer dictionaries which no longer underline it in red as an unknown term. 'Brexit,' as a political campaign motto, has also transformed into a realistic political strategy and eventually into a complicated, exhausting,
more » ... cated, exhausting, dividing, yet finalized process. By the time it was accomplished, everyone in Europe was tired of it, but tiredness did not change the fact that Brexit was an historical period of turmoil of an unprecedented nature. Brexit occurred on a multitude of dimensions, including the EU language policy dimension. For the past 20 years, English has been by far the most commonly used language in the Union, not only as one of the 24 official languages of the Member States, but as a working language of all the institutions, all negotiations, and all political debates. This contribution aims to analyse the legal status and the practical dimension of the European Union working languages and to explore the position of the English language among them—both presently and with possible scenarios in the future Union, without the United Kingdom as the biggest English-speaking Member State. The initial assumption states that the geopolitical weight of the English language will diminish even if the Irish and Maltese will hold the language's position as an official language of the Union. In mathematical terms, there will be more native speakers in Hungarian or Slovak than in English. In political terms, Germany and France will have a chance to improve their influences by advocating for more efficient use of their languages. 'Quo vadis English?' seems a timely question to ask.
doi:10.1007/s11196-020-09782-x fatcat:unzoez6p2jeuflxya45cnc5pda