T11d Multi-lingualism and Cross-lingual Communication: How China and Europe can learn from each other
Barriers in communication often comes out as a key issues in globalisation. In different historical periods, there are different dominant languages, which serve as a media in politics, trade and exchange of ideas – ancient Greek in ancient times, Latin in Middle Age Europe, Persian and Chinese in Middle Age Asia, French in the 18th century and English in modern times. However, the progress of decolonization in the past four decades has promoted multi-lingualism, and people are demanding their “voice” to win equality and identity. In international conferences, using one’s mother tongue to make a speech has become an approach to display national identity and make cultural rights recognized, while in other occasions, insisting on using one’s mother tongue would create conflicts and communication gaps.
In history, Europe and China have been the cultural center in the east and the west, and they have witnessed the flourishing of multi-culturalism and multi-lingualism. After the Cold War, the communication between China and Europe has entered the third peak. Interaction between the two regions has become so extensive that it has increased the complexity of interpersonal communication, cultural understanding, social integration and diplomatic relations. When discussing intercultural communications, people would always face these questions: Are cultures more alike than different? Should we take different cultures individually and seek measures to promote intercultural understanding and mutual acceptance? When talking of language, culture and communication, should we focus on their commonality or differences?
To answer these questions, we set up our discussion group – “Multi-lingualism and Cross-lingual Communication: How China and Europe can learn from each other”. Our aim is to bring together Chinese and European experts and practitioners who have different social background and positions to exchange their ideas. Under the framework of China-Europa Forum, we are holding this research dialogue for people using different languages in different places to get together and discuss these issues. In the discussion, members of the group could exchange their thoughts on multi-lingualism and intercultural communications, so as to provide a new approach to eliminate misunderstandings and promote mutual understanding.
Topics for debates
1. Language as a media to transmit information and as a tool to exchange ideas: definitions made by Chinese and European scholars.
2. Language as a culture carrier and its translatability.
3. Language as a social signal: identity, differences between social groups and instrumentalisation of ideologies.
4. Diversity of multi-lingualism and commonality of human values.
5. Possible research cooperation in the future.