Abstract: In this lecture I will discuss the important question of whether and how the increasing importance of English as a global language and an international lingua franca in many facets of contemporary societies poses a threat to multilingualism and the practice of translation worldwide.
I will first take a closer look at the notion ‘English as a lingua franca’ (ELF), and also briefly turn to the question of why it should be English that has adopted this pre-eminent role and not some other language. Secondly, I will discuss whether ELF can really be called a threat to multilingual communication and translation or whether ELF is simply a useful ‘neutral’ tool for effective global understanding in academic, business and other contexts. I will here make a distinction between ‘a language for communication’ and ‘a language for identification’ arguing for a compromise position between a wholesale condemnation of ELF and a naïve acceptance of its benefits. This position will be supported from three different perspectives: linguistic, psycholinguistic and pedagogic. Thirdly, I will discuss the question of whether translation as an important type of multilingual communication and an effective means of maintaining cultural identity is threatened by the ever increasing use of English worldwide.
Biographical data: Professor Juliane House is Professor emerita of Applied Linguistics at Hamburg University and and a senior member of the Sonderforschungsbereich "Mehrsprachigkeit" (Research Centre on Multilingualism), where she directs projects on translation and multilingual business communication. She also directs a project on multilingualism and multiculturalism in German universities. Her research interests include translation theory, contrastive pragmatics, discourse analysis, English as a lingua franca and intercultural communication. She has written and edited numerous books and research articles (list of publications: http://www.slm.uni-hamburg.de/iaas_slf/pub-jh.htm).Juliane House received her first degree in English, Spanish, translation and international law from Heidelberg University, her BEd, MA and PhD in applied linguistics from the University of Toronto, Canada, and an honorary doctorate from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.