Negotiating the Language-Identity Link: Luxembourg

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Sep 16 15:37:19 UTC 2004

Author: Kristine Horner

Dissertation Title: Negotiating the Language-Identity Link: Media
Discourse and Nation-Building in Luxembourg

Dissertation Abstract:

The image of multilingual and multicultural Luxembourg, with its
official recognition of Luxembourgish, French and German, is widely
circulated on the international level.  However, debates in the
national arena often portray linguistic diversity and cultural
pluralism as a threat to social cohesion and the continuity of the
nation.  This study, based on a collection of over 500 documents taken
primarily from the print media, illustrates how: 1) the multiple and
(seemingly) contradictory discourses that surface in language debates
are inherently intertextual with other discourses, such as those about
World War II and the founding of the European Union.  2) Various
discursive strategies are used to construct boundaries within
Luxembourg as well between Luxembourg and other European Union
member-states.  3) The augmented value of Luxembourgish is
discursively linked to changes in the linguistic landscape as well as
to greater social, political and economic fluctuations.  Since the
1970s, there have been significant developments, including the rise of
the banking industry, the arrival of EU institutions and employees,
and record levels of in-migration as well as border-crossing
commuters: 38% of the resident population and 36% of the employment
sector in the Grand Duchy is composed of non-Luxembourgish citizens.
The results show that identification with Luxembourgish and/or with
multilingualism is open to negotiation and is related to
nation-building along ethnic and civic dimensions.

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