Language practices and policies in conflict: an ELF perspective on international military communication

Concepción Orna-Montesinos 1
  • 1 University of Zaragoza, Avda. Huesca s/n, 50090, Zaragoza, Spain
Concepción Orna-Montesinos
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  • University of Zaragoza, Avda. Huesca s/n, 50090, Zaragoza, Spain
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  • Concepción Orna-Montesinos is an ESP teacher at the Defense University, affiliated to the University of Zaragoza (Spain). Her research interests include the use of English as the language of international professional and academic communication and the acquisition of intercultural communication competence. She is also interested in genre analysis and specialized languages.
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Abstract

Ensuring linguistic operability in supranational organizations has led to the de facto imposition of an English-only policy in otherwise lingua-culturally diverse environments. This paper uses a combination of a literature review of military-related language policy documents and semi-structured interviews to explore the impact of those policies on the use of English as the working language of a professional context, the Spanish military. Broadly, the findings show that the standardization of linguistic certification procedures, a requirement for their participation in international operations, places these professionals in a disadvantage scenario in which lack of linguistic proficiency translates into the questioning of their personal, professional and institutional validity. The analysis of Spanish soldiers’ perceptions and attitudes helped to shed light on the conflicting interaction of language policies, practices and beliefs. Although English is valued as the language of work and therefore as a vehicle for interaction with other armies, for socialization or for contact with the local population, it is nonetheless viewed as an imposition of the globalized world, accepted with pragmatic and instrumental criteria, which entails the requirement of language certification standards they struggle to meet.

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Journal of English as a Lingua Franca is the first journal to be devoted to the rapidly-growing phenomenon of English as a Lingua Franca. The articles and other features explore this global phenomenon from a wide number of perspectives, including linguistic, sociolinguistic, socio-psychological, and political, in a diverse range of settings where English is the common language of choice.

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