Languages as Borders: The NAFTA Experience and Perspectives in Language Governance

  • Stephan Sberro


As noted by James Rosenau,1 “we are on the verge of living in a world which constitutes one single economic system.” Twenty years after that prediction, formal boundaries are indeed undeniably fading away, and even more so in regional blocs, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the European Union (EU). In Westphalian Europe, state boundaries were almost always matched by linguistic boundaries.2 As a matter of fact, language was the least disputable instrument in legitimizing these boundaries, unlike historical memories and religious differences. Will it still do so in “Rosenau’s multi-centric world?” While a formal comparison follows at the end of the chapter, insights can be gleaned from my discussions of language as a cross-border force beforehand.


European Union International Relation Language Policy Mother Tongue European Central Bank 
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© Imtiaz Hussain 2013

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  • Stephan Sberro

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