A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? English Terminology in French Annual Reports of the European Central Bank from 1991 to 2008

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A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing? English Terminology in French Annual Reports of the European Central Bank from 1991 to 2008
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  The Journal of Specialised Translation   Issue12 – July 2009 A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing? English Terminology in French Annual Reports of the European Central Bank from 1991 to 2008 Camilla Ferard, London Metropolitan University ABSTRACT Nineteenth century ‘standard’ English was based on a rationalist and empiricist assumption of one sole ‘external’ reality which twentieth century ‘scientific’ linguistics transferred into the ‘internal’ mind. However, in the 1930s, Whorf’s studies suggested that different languages reflect different ways of seeing reality. In the 1980s, cognitive linguists also claimed that language works as a catalyst for creativity within different cultural environments. The present study aims to measure the impact of English financial terminological borrowing in French Annual Reports of the European Central Bank through a detailed comparative and socio-cognitive analysis of six French and English terms. The findings revealed that, where cultural gaps or linguistic gaps existed, initial exploration was usually superseded by English term adoption and, where no gaps existed, terms were often replaced by an English language term, or an English language European Union neologism was imposed. This reflected an ‘Anglo-Saxon economic viewpoint’. The study concludes that, ‘standard’ English is not the ‘neutral’ vessel for international communication it claims to be, and that it may even have colluded in its own demise as non-western multilingual communities are now developing their own ‘Englishes’. However, it suggests that the European Union could try to emulate these multilingual communities’ increased capacity for reflexivity and understanding through the development of its own ‘pivot’ language, such as Esperanto. KEYWORDS Standard English, linguistics, cognitive linguists, terminological borrowing, European Central Bank, socio-cognitive, cultural gaps, linguistic gaps, European Union, multilingual, Englishes, Esperanto. 1.   Introduction  “Europe as […] the continent of liberty, solidarity, and above all diversity, meaning respect for other’s languages, cultures and traditions.” Laeken Declaration on the future of the European Union, European Council, 15 December, 2001 This article sets the use of English terminology in French texts of the Annual Reports of the European Central Bank (ECB) against past and present trends in linguistics, sociolinguistics, philosophy and politics, in order to analyse why English borrowing was and is occurring, what its effects might have, and what implications this may have for the future. In the process, it seeks to shed light on whether the above quote represents an attainable future reality. The European Economic Community (EEC) was set up when France, Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Italy and Belgium signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957. The Committee of Governors (inaugurated in 1964 to track economic issues 103    The Journal of Specialised Translation   Issue12 – July 2009 in the EEC) published the first financial annual report in 1992. The Committee was replaced by the European Monetary Institute (EMI) in 1994 and by the European Central Bank (ECB) in 1998. The Committee drafted biannual meeting minutes from 1964 until 1990, which were not produced in English until 1988. So, given that the UK and Ireland joined the EEC in 1973, what can account for the dramatic rise in English language use in the European Union (EU) since the 1990s? The two main factors involved seem to be the move towards monetary union from 2002 and the accession of second language English speaking countries (Sweden and Finland from 1996 and Eastern European countries from 2004). The past and present linguistic, cultural and political issues behind these factors will be examined in the next section. 2.   Background 2.1   The rise of linguistics and English as an ‘international’ language Medieval Europe assumed knowledge came from God-given innate principles. But scientific advances from the seventeenth century gave rise to a new philosophical branch of epistemology or the search for ‘true’ knowledge, of which the main movements were rationalism and empiricism. Descartes believed that the senses could deceive and that real knowledge could only be obtained through thought. In his Meditations  of 1647 he wrote: “I am, I exist, is necessarily true, every time I express it or conceive of it in my mind.” (Warburton 1998: 50). And, in 1689, Locke claimed in  An Essay in Human Understanding  that, whilst all knowledge came from sensory experience, reflection, reason or memory could build complex  ‘ideas’ from simple representational images in the mind (Warburton 1998: 81-82). Although these views diverged, Pennycock maintains that (as far as language is concerned) both subscribed to a representationalist view where  “meaning is said to lie in the linguistic representation of a prelinguistic material reality or in the prelinguistic thoughts of an individual.” (14: 119). Saussure is often cited as the figure responsible for moving meaning away from representationalism to modern ‘scientific’ structuralism. In his Course in General Linguistics  (based on his 1906-11 lectures and published posthumously in 1916), he claimed that “meaning was not dependent on a correspondence with an outside world but was dependent on internal structural relationships.” (Pennycock 1994: 120). He called these structural relationships (or ‘concepts’) ‘language’ of which their manifest outward expression was the ‘word’. For Pennycock, however, Saussure’s ideas follow in the representational tradition because they did not challenge the idea of there being ‘one’ fixed meaning that accord with one reality. Meaning merely moved from the ‘outside world’ into the "internal structure" of the mind (1994: 121). Moreover, for Saussure, these internal structures were "a fixed code shared by a homogenous speech community as the guarantor of shared meanings. ”   (Pennycock 1994: 121) .  So, whilst linguistic codes may be different, their 104    The Journal of Specialised Translation   Issue12 – July 2009 common purpose was to decode meaning, which was believed to transcend individual languages. In fact, he believed that monolingualism was a natural condition for humankind and synonymous with national identity (Pennycock 1994: 120). And, it is no surprise that the birth of structural linguistics coincided with the idea of the western nation state unified by a single language (Fairclough 1989 cited in Pennycock 1994: 117). In Britain itself, an era of rising workers movements and a rapidly expanding empire led to intense interest taken in the history of the British people and the subsequent promulgation of a "sociolinguistic fiction" of a homogenous people and language (Harris 1987 cited in Pennycock 1994: 116). Prescriptive rules on how English should be written and spoken (‘standard English’) controlled and stratified social class, separating the  “educated, cultured, good” from the “vulgar, rude, coarse.” (Crowley 1989 cited in Pennycock 1994: 114). Furthermore, the exportation of ‘standard English’ served to reinforce the similar stratification which existed between ‘superior’ British culture and the ‘inferior’ conquered cultures of the empire (Pennycock 1994: 116-117). A preference was also expressed for the spoken word (backed up by Saussurian ideas of universal meaning) which could reveal “the pure unsullied thoughts of our primitive selves” led to an emphasis on phonocentrism which the deconstructionist, Derrida, has linked to a western obsession with “logocentrism” or the “Unitary Self” (1976 cited in Pennycock 1994: 123). For Pennycock, this phonocentrism ignores the “complex social and cultural implications of literacy and […] the possibilities that reading and writing open up for more reflexive and more numerous interpretations of meaning.” (1994: 136). And, in fact, the same assumptions can be seen behind the creation of the various forms of ‘simplified’ Englishes such as BASIC (British American Scientific International Commercial) English developed by Ogden in 1930. In 1943, during a speech delivered at Harvard, Churchill claimed that “such plans [Basic English] offer far better prizes than taking away other people's provinces or lands or grinding them down in exploitation. The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.” (Ogden 1968 cited in Pennycock 1994: 131). This would become a post-war reality when the discipline of Applied Lingusitics was set up, along with its so-called ‘neutral’ and ‘scientific’ language teaching methods, which Luke, McHoul and Mey have suggested only served to “concur with or reinforce extant relations of power and authority.” (1979 cited in Pennycock: 138). Furthermore, a preference for monolingual and native speakers, as well as a general lack of reflection on how other cultural or social values could be taken into consideration in a positive sense to make teaching more learner culture centred, betrayed “disrespect for other languages and cultures.” (Pennycock 1994: 137). In 1940, Whorf described Basic English as “an eviscerated British English, with its concealed premises working harder than ever [...] to be fobbed off on an unsuspecting world as the substance of pure Reason itself.” (1956: 244). His book Science and Linguistics  (posthumously published in 1956) developed what later came to be known as the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis. Working on 105    The Journal of Specialised Translation   Issue12 – July 2009 studies of a native North American Indian language, Hopi, he provided evidence of a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of a language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it. Whorf wrote: “Every language and every well-knit technical sublanguage incorporates certain points of view and certain patterned resistances to widely divergent points of view.” (Whorf 1956: 247). He therefore concluded that “to restrict thinking to the patterns merely of English, and especially to those patterns which represent the acme of plainness in English, is to lose a power of thought which, once lost, can never be regained.” (1956: 244). Nevertheless, structural ‘scientific’ linguistic theories have been tenaciously resilient throughout the twentieth century. In Syntactic Structures , written in 1957 in part as a riposte to Whorf, Chomsky argues that all humans are born with a “universal grammar” that transcends individual languages. For Pennycock, these ‘innatist’ theories only relegate “all variation to the random vagaries of performance” so that language can be dealt with entirely in terms of its internal structure and without reference to its cultural social historical and political contexts (1994: 122). He argues that this is as restrictive as ‘behaviourism’ (a theory that Chomsky also purported to criticise), because it attempts to locate understanding in a pre-conceived fixed innate form which is later mapped onto words (Robinson 1975 cited in Pennycock 1994: 124). Derrida sees evidence here of a western rationalist and empiricist obsession with the Cartesian dichotomies of mind and body, the sacred and profane etc., “by which […] an order is imposed on reality and by which a subtle repression is exercised as these hierarchies exclude, subordinate and hide the various potential meanings.” (Lamont 1987: 590). The sole result can be “tyranny, which can only be sustained by the evil of repression and by excluding what is uncertain.” (Derrida 1976 cited in Temmerman 2000: 55). Derrida was, however, not just talking about totalitarian political regimes, but also about the more subtle repressive forces at work such as a growing globalisation of the world spearheaded by United States capitalism. Under the guise of neutral market-oriented policies, exported subsidiaries of companies world-wide take advantage of cheap labour and resources to reap profits to import back into the US. Schiller argues that acquiescence with this situation is achieved by simultaneous exportation of corporations and their values (the  ‘American Dream’), which “provide in their imagery and messagery, the beliefs and perspectives that create and reinforce their audiences’ attachments to the way things are in the system overall." (1979 cited in Tomlinson 1999: 81). So, by teaching English and then exporting ‘popular’ cultural English language products such as films, music etc. that reflect US capitalist values, they create their own  justification and convince “developing nations” that all they need to do is follow the “development path” of a system which, in fact, is responsible for maintaining them in that inferior position (Schiller 1979 cited in Tomlinson 1999: 82). 106    The Journal of Specialised Translation   Issue12 – July 2009 2.2. The fiction of a European language policy So, if imposition of one sole language implies “a provisional analysis of reality” (Whorf 1956: 244), is the pragmatic argument of a monolingual world in fact just a wolf in sheep’s clothing? The EU has 23 official languages but most of its scientific and administrative documentation is produced exclusively in English. For Kraus, English hegemony at the EU “reflects the results of a process which applies the logic of market integration to the communicative integration of Europe. This means that Europe refrains from tackling the language issue by political means" and falls back on the "all-too-easy litany which keeps on adding member state language to member state language.” (Kraus 2008: 96 and 99). The euro notes offer an interesting parallel as they "visualize a space that remains strangely devoid of people and has been detached from the realms of a tangible collective cultural experience: Euroland, srcinally envisaged as a symbolic home to European citizens, thus becomes a no-man's-land.” (Kraus 2008: 93). However, Kraus believes that Europe could become a “breeding ground for an intercultural empathy” and a  “laboratory for learning an intercultural competence which can be politically effective,” bringing “first order diversity into forms that do not simply reproduce it but transform it reflexively.” (2008: 98-100). He cites bilingual Canada as an example of a cooperative overlapping heterogenic entity of which no part seeks to dominate and which explores the "possibilities of creating a common context of political identification whose particular feature is its acceptance of the legitimacy of varying degrees of identification with the overarching community it represents.” (2008: 98). Yet in the absence of a language policy that is both practical and maintains cultural and linguistic diversity, Kraus believes that “Europe’s diversity will ultimately become speechless.” (2008: 97). Grin, however, gives us seven possible approaches to an EU language policy: “panarchic” (all 23 languages have equal status), “hegemonic” (English as the pivot language), "monarchic" (English as the official language), “oligarchic” (English German and French as official languages) "triple symmetrical relay" (English German and French as pivot languages), “synarchic" (Esperanto as the official language) and “technocratic” (Esperanto as the pivot language). Grin favours the latter two (2008: 77-78). However, the 1905 Declaration of Esperanto clearly favoured the “technocratic” option, when it claimed that it did not pretend to push out existing national languages, but only to facilitate worldwide communication by increasing mutual linguistic respect (cited in Philipson 2003: 173). But, to date, no international institution, apart from the League of Nations in the 1920s (blocked by fears from the French it would be replaced as the language of diplomacy), has experimented with the idea. For Philipson, Esperanto would “contribute towards maintaining a healthier, less hierarchical ecology of the official languages of the EU.” 107  
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