Dealing with language and multilingualism in official settings: a comparison between Belgium and the FYROM

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Language is a tool of power and as such intertwined with the policy developed by governmental agents. This is certainly an issue in countries or regions featuring more than one official language, particularly due to the relationship between language, ethnicity and social boundaries. It provokes tensions and conflicts implying an often precarious balance between the language groups involved. Recent societal and governmental transitions have increased the complexity of these interactions. On the one hand there is the globalisation, its inherent influx of immigrants, their multilingualism and impact on very specific and local issues. On the other hand scholars depicted a profound governmental transition thereby "eroding" or "reshaping" the nation states, implying the rise of regions and cities and the relevance of supranational institutions.
Both in Belgium and in the Republic of Macedonia the politics of language have been at the centre of the political debate as a central factor in the process of nation building. This contribution starts from the process of state reform, fixed in a five successive "Revisions of the Constitution? in Belgium and the "Ohrid Framework Agreement?, the? Constitution? and the "Law on the City of Skopje? in the Republic of Macedonia. Based on these legal instruments and interviews with key persons in political life and the civil society, the concepts, ideas and norms regarding the language policies are compared and discussed (the definition of an official language, the use of languages, the definition of minorities, the different domains where language use is regulated by law etc...). It also deals with the tools used by authorities in order to implement the above mentioned concepts and ideas. It results in the pros and cons of the various mechanisms developed to protect language minorities and to implement language agreements and legislation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConcepts and consequences of multilingualism in Europe
PublisherSouth East European University Tetovo
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)978-608-4503-68-2
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2011


  • multilingualism
  • language po

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