Contribution to the 2nd European Green Party Congress, 13-14 October 2006
Towards a European Green Party language and communication policy that reflects Green values
In Europe, where so many languages are spoken, language is often a barrier to communication about political issues. Difficult or obscure wording can also discourage people from participating in democratic processes. As Greens, we should do our best to aid communication between European language communities, starting with our own texts and discussions.
The initial decision to make English the sole working language of the EGP made sense, given the limited means of the EGP, but it should not be seen as a permanent solution, for both practical and ethical reasons. For example:
1. Members of national parties who do not speak fluent English are excluded from direct participation in EGP democratic processes.
2. The level of EGP Congress and Council delegates' participation in debates and discussions may be determined by their command of English rather than by the relative importance of political issues.
3. English texts produced by non-native-speakers are unlikely to have a useful political impact in English-speaking countries and may contain serious language mistakes which block understanding both in English-speaking and non-English speaking countries.
4. Encouraging European Greens to use only one European language effectively closes the window onto many other European cultures the EGP could otherwise provide.
We call on the European Green Party assembled here in Geneva to move towards a language and communication policy in tune with Green values such as solidarity, tolerance and cultural diversity, gradually introducing tools and structures to improve mutual understanding. Such a policy might include the following measures:
1. Providing a style guide for writers of EGP texts to ensure that texts are as short and unambiguous as possible.
2. Providing guidelines for successful communication with speakers of other languages in the working language(s) of the EGP.
3. Where texts are produced in a natural language, ensuring that they are copy-edited by native-speakers following the above guidelines.
4. Allowing national parties to submit texts and amendments in their own language(s) plus the/a working language of the EGP.
5. Coordinating production of translations into languages other than the EGP working language(s) and facilitating creation of aids to understanding such as glossaries of frequently used terms, multilingual databases etc.
6. Giving serious consideration to possible uses of an artificial language within the EGP.
7. Promoting access to foreign-language originals in both English and other languages, via choices such as subtitling rather than dubbing, consecutive rather than simultaneous interpreting and bilingual or multilingual publications.
8. Offering appropriate language tuition in the EGP working language(s).
9. Creating opportunities for Greens across Europe to communicate directly with each other, face to face or at a distance, in a variety of languages.
Odette Brach (Les Verts), Brigitte Brozio (Les Verts), Jérôme Desquilbet (Les Verts), Greet Goverde-Lips (Groenlinks), Claire Grover (Les Verts), Simon Imbert-Vier (Les Verts), Michael Leibman (Les Verts), Gilles Pradeau (Les Verts), Victoria Selwyn (Les Verts)
Email: AVE (c/o M. Westermayer)