Can Scholarly Communication Be Multilingual? A Glance at Language Use in US Classical Archaeology
- Several European languages (mostly English, German, Italian and French) are normally employed in classical archaeology, particularly for publications. In addition, there are some, so to speak, ‘minor’ languages in use, which are associated with some countries where much archaeological field work is done (Modern Greek, Spanish and, recently, also Turkish).
- A multilingual concept of specialized communication in the field is prevailing among scholars. Researchers (but even students) are expected to learn foreign languages in order to gather necessary information for their studies. The idea of only one scholarly language is firmly rejected by nearly every archaeologist questioned in the survey, both Italian and German speaking.
- The grade of self-esteem, however, as well as views about the future language use are found to depend on the different macrocultural trends. German speaking classical archaeologists emphasize the importance of historical and present-day scholarly literature in German and express the conviction that specialized communication in the discipline will remain multilingual in the foreseeable future, while Italians fear particularly for the prospects of their own mother tongue.
2. Linguistic Situation and Opinions about Language Use in US Classical Archaeology (Survey)
2.1. Language Use and its Perception
|Country [=nationality of the editing institution] (number of responses)||Journals (number of responses)|
|USA (51)||AJA (21), JRA (15), Hesperia (11), other (4)|
|Germany (41)||AM (12), JdI (11), RM (10), AA (6), other (2)|
|GB (16)||JHS (6), JRS (4), BSA (4), other (2)|
|France (11)||BCH (6), RA (3), MEFRA (2)|
|Italy (7)||NSc (3), BollCom (2), other (2)|
|Greece (4)||ArchDelt (2), other (2)|
|Switzerland (German speaking area) (1)||AntK (1)|
- Rarely; as the majority of my classes are freshmen survey classes (100-level), most of the students do not have a sufficient mastery of foreign languages to allow them to read non-English scholarly papers.
- We (US faculty members) can require (and do require) graduate students to learn foreign languages. However, your survey fails to account for the majority of the students that we teach: undergraduates. Almost none of them knows German, certainly not German and French and Italian. This makes it very difficult to teach a class that incorporates the most important and the latest research. If classical archaeology in American is to remain a vibrant field, we must attract very bright undergraduates. We can only do this by presenting them with the best literature and the most important debates in the field. However, this is usually impossible, because of the language barrier.
- It is not possible to study Roman architecture or sculpture without German, as well as English. Many excavation reports are in French or Italian or modern Greek.
- […] there is not one language more important than another, particularly in the subfields. You can't be a Romanist (as I often am) without Italian; for Archaic Greece, it drops down the list. In my Anglophone world, command of French, German, Italian are seen as indispensable.
- […] If you work (conduct fieldwork or contextually based studies) in Greece or Italy and since current fieldwork is dominated by local archaeological authorities and universities in those countries, then it is paramount that you read Greek and Italian (most basic reports are in these languages); and then English, French and German for the basic fieldwork of the foreign schools. The most comprehensive handbooks and compendious, synthetic and descriptive or synoptic studies are written in German (e.g., sculpture) and French (e.g., architecture); most theoretical approaches and culture histories are in English and so on. […]
- always. for any professional and serious archaeologist.
- yes, always if the archaeologist wants to stay abreast.
- good ones always. most not enough. beginning grad students are not as well prepared as in the past.
- I think many try to stay abreast, but not all succeed. US university libraries have had their budgets cut severely and foreign publications are often the first to go. Free access to digital publications would help enormously.
- Part of the problem in working in other languages is the cost of the publications—academic libraries are not buying materials as they used to, especially if the work will ‘only’ benefit a couple of researchers at a University, and materials are costly for an individual, even if one can find out about them […]
- To some extent, American scholars are at the mercy of the buying policies of their university libraries. Librarians prefer to buy books in English; they don't mind buying books in French too much, because they probably studied French at some point; it is much harder to get them to buy in German and especially Italian. The argument is that the students will not read those books, and it makes no sense for the library to buy for only one person (i.e., the person requesting the book). It becomes harder and harder for scholars in US institutions that do not have a dedicated program in archaeology to keep up with non-English publications, unless we receive regular circulars from non-English publishers. Non-English publications seem also to be published in shorter runs and to go out of print faster, so we often miss getting them when they are available. […]
- Decreased; all languages; with the extensive use of translatable programs, such as Google, personal knowledge of foreign languages has been reduced. Now, people are increasingly having their computers translate for them, thus circumventing the need to know the language personally.
- The absence of serious language training in pre-graduate US education is endangering the postgraduate study of classical archaeology in the US. […] Students do not receive serious language training in middle school, are not required to learn or to develop their language skills in college and we are under increasing pressure to get graduate students through the Phd [sic] in 6 years. Unless they have somehow bucked the trend and acquired languages earlier, in spite of these impediments, it is impossible for them to do a serious degree in classical archaeology (with proper language training) in that period of time. In my youth, students were still expected to have some at least passing knowledge of a foreign language to enter or at least to graduate from college. […].
2.2. Views and Opinions about Language Use and Multilingualism
- Having a shared scholarly language makes international research and cooperation much easier. English has begun to play that role across the last thirty years, but it'll be a long time before it becomes the only important language in the field (perhaps another thirty years).
- I doubt it will come to this. In Greece, the move is in the opposite direction, with journal [sic], such as AEMTh, taking a central place for regional studies.
- While I'd be delighted if everything were written in English (and, whereas English is a fairly good scientific language because [sic] of both its extensive vocabulary choices and its grammatical specificity), I think it extremely arrogant to force anyone to write in other than her/his native tongue […]
- I still believe that it is important for classical archaeologists to be multi-lingual. Requiring English is a form of ‘cultural imperialism’.
- Scholars should enjoy the freedom to publish in whatever language they wish to publish. This is an element of academic freedom.
- Obviously, it would be more convenient for those of us who use English natively, but practically, this cannot work. Not having to read a foreign language would make archaeological work much easier for anyone. However, there is no ethical way to argue that one language should be given preference. With all of us being required to read scholarly material in whatever language it appears, all of us face the same challenge. Moreover, even if one could enforce such an exclusion, it would not address the vast body of scholarship in various languages, which one still has to deal with. Thus, little would be gained by decreeing that from now on, only one language can be used.
- Classical archaeology has been an international, multi-lingual discipline from its beginnings in the 18th c. The field would not benefit from changing this, and even if everything were written in English from now on, students and scholars would still need to read the older publications.
- I don't think your study takes into account the need of scholars to examine old publications. We will always have to learn French, German, Italian, Russian, Greek, etc. to look at the primary data collected in the 19th and 20th centuries […]
- I have had the job of editing submissions in English from scholars for whom English is not the mother tongue. I would have preferred them to have written in their mother tongue! Even if English is used increasingly in academic publishing, reading recent articles is only a small part of a scholar’s job. He/she should be fluent in German, Italian and French.
- Although it would be most convenient for us (and our students) to have everything published in English, I respect the right of foreign nationals to use their own language(s)—not least because sophisticated communication in the humanities is difficult enough without the extra burden of doing it in a foreign tongue. If non-English speakers want their voices and ideas to be heard, read, disseminated and discussed, however, as a matter of practicality, these languages should be restricted to the four or five listed above. Conferences are another matter.
- We have seen at conferences that English is becoming a way for Italian, French, German, Turkish, Israeli, Greek, etc., scholars to communicate with one another: having English as a second language helps enormously to share information, across all the language communities. For the languages not well studied at all internationally for the humanities, like Polish or Dutch or Arabic or Hebrew, etc., publishing in one of the four major scholarly languages (English, French, German, Italian) is indispensable to make an impact, in any case […]
- North America, and to some extent, the UK and Australia, remains a source of graduate training grants and jobs that young scholars from around Europe [sic] and the UK wish very much to penetrate to get a good degree and a job, especially from the countries with the most corrupt and restricted systems for job procural and promotion: for career, being able to speak scholarly English and perhaps even to write in it (or pay a translator) is increasingly valuable for the survival of brilliant young people […]
- The US job market, although not great at the moment, may offer more opportunities than the European market, in which case, there is pressure on potential European applicants to publish in English, both to demonstrate their language skills and to get a careful read from committees reviewing their dossiers (committee members are frequently not in classical archaeology—we are not as specialized here as in Europe) […]
Many of my colleagues in the US are indeed fighting hard against the loss of knowledge of foreign languages among students and, generally, against a tendency in the American academia to acknowledge or even establish English as the only academic language. […] And since I am teaching in the US, it became very obvious that there are no explicit attempts to establish English as the global academic language in classical archaeology, but rather, an overall development to privilege English scholarship on reading lists, in bibliographies, in footnotes, in the acquisition policy of libraries, etc., a tendency, which is very obviously not based on an assessment of the international importance or the amount of scholarly contributions in English, [but] resulting from an increasing neglect of consulting international scholarship, as well as from the inability to read any foreign languages.Vice versa, it is interesting to see what a US archaeologist thinks about his European colleagues’ attitude towards language use:As an American classical archaeologist who has lived and worked in Germany for a number of years, I am acutely aware of the issue you are investigating. In my view, the Germans are complicit in the demise of German as a scholarly language by being overly eager to give papers and publish in English.
References and Notes
- Robert Kaplan. “English – the Accidental Language of Science? ” In The Dominance of English as a Language of Science. Edited by Ulrich Ammon. Berlin-New York: De Gruyter, 2001, pp. 3–26. [Google Scholar]
- Ulrich Ammon. Ist Deutsch noch internationale Wissenschaftssprache? Englisch für die Lehre an den deutschsprachigen Hochschulen. Berlin-New York: De Gruyter, 1998. [Google Scholar]
- Augusto Carli, and Ulrich Ammon, eds. Linguistic Inequality in Scientific Communication Today. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2007.
- Grazia Maria Saracino, ed. Writing for Scholarly Publication in English. Issues for Nonnative Speakers. San Cesario di Lecce: Pietro Manni, 2004.
- Ulrich Ammon. “Linguistic inequality and its effects on participation in scientific discourse and on global knowledge accumulation – With a closer look at the problems of the second-rank language communities.” Applied Linguistics Review 3, no. 2 (2012): 333–55. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
- Harald Weinrich. “Sprache und Wissenschaft.” In Deutsch als Wissenschaftssprache. Edited by Hartwig Kalverkämper and Harald Weinrich. Tübingen: Narr, 1986, pp. 183–93. [Google Scholar]
- Els Oksaar, Sabine Skudlik, and Jürgen von Stackelberg. Gerechtfertigte Vielfalt. Zur Sprache in den Geisteswissenschaften. Darmstadt: Luchterhand, 1988. [Google Scholar]
- Wulf Österreicher. “Mehrsprachigkeit als Bedingung wissenschaftlicher Produktivität in den Geisteswissenschaften.” In Mehrsprachige Wissenschaft – europäische Perspektiven. Eine Konferenz im Europäischen Jahr der Sprachen. Edited by Konrad Ehlich. 2002, http://www.euro-sprachenjahr.de/Oesterreicher.pdf.
- Emilia Calaresu, Cristina Guardiano, and Klaus Hölker. Italienisch und Deutsch als Wissenschaftssprachen. Bestandsaufnahmen, Analysen, Perspektiven / Italiano e tedesco come lingue della comunicazione scientifica. Ricognizioni, analisi e prospettive. Berlin: LIT, 2006. [Google Scholar]
- Antonie Hornung, ed. Lingue di cultura in pericolo – Bedrohte Wissenschaftssprachen. L’italiano e il tedesco di fronte alla sfida dell’internazionalizzazione – Deutsch und Italienisch vor den Herausforderungen der Internationalisierung. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2011.
- Rainer Enrique Hamel. “El español en el campo de las ciencias: propuesta para una politica del lenguaie.” In Congresso Internacional sobre Lenguas Neolatinas en la Comunicazión Especializada. Edited by Centro de Estudios Lingüisticos y Literarios, Agence Intergouvernamentale de la Francophonie, El Colegio de México; Mexico: Unión Latina, 2005, pp. 87–112. http://www.hamel.com.mx/Archivos-Publicaciones/2005%20El%20espanol%20en%20el%20campo%20de%20las%20ciencias%20-%20Propuestas%20para%20una%20politica%20del%20lenguaje.pdf.
- Konrad Ehlich. “The Future of German and other Non-English Languages of Academic Communication.” In Globalisation and the Future of German. Edited by Andreas Gardt and Bernd Hüppauf. Berlin-New York: De Gruyter, 2004, pp. 174–85. [Google Scholar]
- Konrad Ehlich. “Mehrsprachigkeit in der Wissenschaftskommunikation – Illusion oder Notwendigkeit? ” In Die Wissenschaft und ihre Sprachen. Edited by Konrad Ehlich and Dorothee Heller. Bern etc.: Peter Lang, 2006, pp. 17–38. [Google Scholar]
- Winfried Thielmann. “Wege aus dem sprachpolitischen Vakuum? Zur scheinbaren wissenschaftskulturellen Neutralität wissenschaftlicher Universalsprachen.” In Mehrsprachige Wissenschaft – europäische Perspektiven. Eine Konferenz im Europäischen Jahr der Sprachen. Edited by Konrad Ehlich. 2002, http://www.euro-sprachenjahr.de/Thielmann.pdf.
- Ulrich Ammon. “Entwicklung der deutschen Wissenschaftssprache im 20. Jahrhundert.” In Deutsch als Wissenschaftssprache im 20. Jahrhundert. Edited by Friedhelm Debus, Franz Gustav Kollmann and Uwe Pörksen. Stuttgart: Steiner, 2000, pp. 59–80. [Google Scholar]
- Julia Behrens, Lars Fischer, Karl-Heinz Minks, and Lena Rösler. Die Internationale Positionierung der Geisteswissenschaften in Deutschland. Eine empirische Untersuchung. Hannover: Hochschul Informations System GmbH, 2010, http://www.bmbf.de/pubRD/internationale_positionierunggeisteswissenschaften.pdf.
- Karl Gerhard Hempel. “Nationalstile in archäologischen Fachtexten. Bemerkungen zu ‘Stilbeschreibungen’ im Deutschen und im Italienischen.” In Die Wissenschaft und ihre Sprachen. Edited by Konrad Ehlich and Dorothee Heller. Bern etc.: Peter Lang, 2006, pp. 255–74. [Google Scholar]
- Karl Gerhard Hempel. “Presente e futuro del plurilinguismo nelle scienze umanistiche. Il tedesco e l’italiano in archeologia classica.” Lingue e Linguaggi 6 (2011): 49–88. http://siba-ese.unisalento.it/index.php/linguelinguaggi/article/view/11644/10620. [Google Scholar]
- Karl Gerhard Hempel. “Gegenwart und Zukunft der Mehrsprachigkeit in den Geisteswissenschaften. Deutsch und Italienisch in der Klassischen Archäologie.” trans-kom 5, no. 1 (2012): 60–123. http://www.trans-kom.eu/bd05nr01/trans-kom_05_01_04_Hempel_Mehrsprachigkeit.20120614.pdf. [Google Scholar]
- Alberto A. Sobrero. “Intorno alle lingue della comunicazione scientifica.” In Italienisch und Deutsch als Wissenschaftssprachen. Bestandsaufnahmen, Analysen, Perspektiven / Italiano e tedesco come lingue della comunicazione scientifica. Ricognizioni, analisi e prospettive. Edited by Emilia Calaresu, Cristina Guardiano and Klaus Hölker. Berlin: LIT, 2006, pp. 1–14. [Google Scholar]
- http://www.dainst.org/medien/de/richtlinien_abkuerzungen.html (accessed on 13 February 2013).
- Some of the participants gave various responses with reference to various languages, each of which has been counted; thus the number of answers to this question exceeds the number of respondents.
- Charlene Kellsey, and Jennifer E. Knievel. “Global English in the Humanities? A Longitudinal Citation Study of Foreign-Language use by Humanities Scholars.” College & Research Libraries 65, no. 3 (2004): 194–204. http://crl.acrl.org/content/65/3/194.full.pdf. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
© 2013 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Hempel, K.G. Can Scholarly Communication Be Multilingual? A Glance at Language Use in US Classical Archaeology. Humanities 2013, 2, 128-146. https://doi.org/10.3390/h2020128
Hempel KG. Can Scholarly Communication Be Multilingual? A Glance at Language Use in US Classical Archaeology. Humanities. 2013; 2(2):128-146. https://doi.org/10.3390/h2020128Chicago/Turabian Style
Hempel, Karl Gerhard. 2013. "Can Scholarly Communication Be Multilingual? A Glance at Language Use in US Classical Archaeology" Humanities 2, no. 2: 128-146. https://doi.org/10.3390/h2020128