‘A badge of Europeanness’: Shaping identity through the European Union’s institutional discourse on multilingualism

Franco Zappettini

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This paper contributes to the advancement of the established body of literature on language and identity by ascertaining how discursive representations of multilingualism at an institutional level have interplayed with the construction and the definition of European identities. Using the Discourse Historical Approach (Wodak 2001), the analysis focuses on a corpus of official speeches given by the European Commissioner for Multilingualism to identify discursive strategies and linguistic devices and link them to wider socio-political and historic dynamics. Findings suggest that the institutional construction of Europeanness has primarily occurred through macro discourses predicated on cultural, civic and economic dimensions of multilingualism with some inherent tensions in contrasting representations of ‘diverse’ and multilingual EU-rope. It is suggested that through heterogeneous representations of multilingualism torn between identity politics and commodification, European identities emerge as hybrid and fragmented constructs in between national, post national and global dimensions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-402
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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