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The role of European languages in future – German-Russian experiences and prospects

Conference
May 24 - 25, 2007
Moscow, Russain Federation
+7 495 9362457
info@moskau.goethe.org
Situation:

The relevance of German as a major cultural language in all areas of social life may be undergoing a process of change.

The number of academic publications appearing in German keeps declining, and more and more universities in Germany are offering courses in English.

Viewed in the long term, there is the risk that German will lose its power of coinage (K. Ehlich) in the field of science, and that there will be fewer and fewer scientific terms in German.

Similar tendencies can be seen in other areas of society, such as the internet or commerce: in German companies which operate internationally, English is increasingly becoming the corporate language.

Questions:

Is this loss of significance just a superficial phenomenon which is itself subject to change, or is it the expression of a deeper-reaching process of change?

Do we accept this situation as being unalterable, even if it means that there will be fewer and fewer work-related reasons to learn German? That German will continue to exist as a lingua franca, as an everyday language, as a literary language, but that German may cease to be a full-value language in all essential cultural fields?

A further exciting question in this context is: how do other European countries / linguistic communities handle similar situations? For example, Russian is an ancient and rich cultural language. Here, some of the developments are comparable to German, but the responses differ. What conclusions can be drawn from the impending loss of significance? What might be potential solutions?

The Goethe-Institut Moscow intends to investigate these and similar questions in a one or two-day conference with German and Russian experts in March 2007.

The aim of the conference is to heighten awareness that the change in function of a language engenders socio-political effects, to initiate an exchange of information / experience amongst representatives of two European languages with the possibility of mutual learning, and to develop solutions / strategies for dealing constructively with the developments.

It is necessary to clarify whether the countries participating in the conference possess academic studies on these questions which can be discussed at the conference. In any case, the questions need to be subjected to an academic analysis so that we can move beyond plausibility assumptions.

The results of the conference are to be documented in a publication.

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