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    Current challenges of language policy and planning for international organisations

    McEntee-Atalianis, Lisa (2022) Current challenges of language policy and planning for international organisations. Chinese Journal of Language Policy and Planning 2 (2), pp. 12-23. ISSN 2096-1014.

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    This article reviews the language policy and planning challenges currently facing international organisations. Using the United Nations as a case study and exemplar, it discusses the specific challenges faced by the organisation when trying to balance the demands of linguistic equity among language users, efficiency in communication and cost associated with the maintenance of multilingual provision. The paper describes the development of the UN’s multilingual language policy and the ongoing difficulties experienced in its implementation, with marked disparity found in the use of the organisation’s six official languages and the ever-increasing hegemony of English. The article contends that the time is ripe for a review of the regulatory principles, provisions and linguistic practices and suggests a way for the organisation to assess and reform its current language regime. This, it is argued, will demand first modelling and then operating different language scenarios, which are able to accommodate and adapt to shifting priorities or (resource) constraints. Models of different configurations (using the current official/ working languages) are presented. These simulate changes to the constitution of language provision in diff erent settings. These scenarios can be applied when taking into account a number of variables, e.g. the amount of financial support for any setting; equity of language provision; the linguistic expertise of personnel in any grouping; expediency of communication; access to language interpreters/translators; preference for lingua franca usage etc. It is argued that there is much to learn from the work of language economists who, in their analyses of multilingual contexts, consider allocative and distributive eff ects, i.e. comparative cost and efficiency of diff erent scenarios and the relative impact of changing language scenarios on individuals and groups. It is also argued that in addition to economic and operational constraints, user preferences and beliefs should also be analysed to ensure success of take-up. Modelling will support a review of current practices and ideologies (of administrative staff , member state representatives and other stakeholders) and test the feasibility of introducing and operating multiple language scenarios within and across diff erent departments, agencies and bodies of the UN, which has relevance for other inter/supernational organisations too. Modelling can inform planning and go some way to ensuring a balance can be struck between the persistently challenging trilogy of: equity, efficiency and cost.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): Inter/supranational organisations, the United Nations, policy analysis, language regimes
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Creative Arts, Culture and Communication
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2021 12:48
    Last Modified: 15 Jan 2024 01:10


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