In a series of different speeches on the idea of Europe, Umberto Eco insisted on two ideas that recurred in all his conferences and works on this theme and that—as a semiotician and linguist—interest me enormously. The first idea regards the connection between a new European identity, the “sexual function” of the Erasmus student exchange program and a special linguistic condition, which Eco defines by two examples: bilingualism and “Swiss language”. It is as if European identity were transmitted through a new, advantageous form of bilingualism, through the compresence of mother tongues and father tongues, but also through the compresence of foreign tongues: “orphan” languages that citizens may speak or understood without quite mastering them, as in Switzerland with its four official languages. The second idea that interests me is Eco’s identification of the Erasmus exchange program with “Swiss language”, that is, the compresence in the same place of persons speaking different languages they have not mastered in the same way as their own mother tongue. Eco argues that these people “adapt”,as if a “minor language” subjects a “major language” to treatment, in which the words minor and major reflect not the supposed importance of different languages but bilingualism itself: the compresence ofa “dominant language” and “minority language”, in the terminology of the linguists and cognitive scientists who study this phenomenon (see Gathercole and Thomas 2009; Môn Thomas et al. 2014). From this arises what I view as the most interesting and least visible aspect of Eco’s argument: that bilingual children and Swiss language are not only connected but in fact two variants of the same phenomenon, just as the letter “z” as pronounced in southern Italy and in my own region of Emilia-Romagna are variants of the same phoneme. What is this phenomenon? What is the “phoneme” of which Swiss language and bilingualism are each a variant? These are the questions that I explore in this chapter. The answer, perhaps, lies in the Erasmus program itself and its “sexual function”, that which drives us to have more bilingual children.

European Identity and the Sexual Function of Erasmus Program. Nomadism, Bilingualism and “Swiss Language” / Paolucci, Claudio. - ELETTRONICO. - 4:(2021), pp. 47-58. [10.1007/978-3-030-69240-7]

European Identity and the Sexual Function of Erasmus Program. Nomadism, Bilingualism and “Swiss Language”

Paolucci, Claudio
2021

Abstract

In a series of different speeches on the idea of Europe, Umberto Eco insisted on two ideas that recurred in all his conferences and works on this theme and that—as a semiotician and linguist—interest me enormously. The first idea regards the connection between a new European identity, the “sexual function” of the Erasmus student exchange program and a special linguistic condition, which Eco defines by two examples: bilingualism and “Swiss language”. It is as if European identity were transmitted through a new, advantageous form of bilingualism, through the compresence of mother tongues and father tongues, but also through the compresence of foreign tongues: “orphan” languages that citizens may speak or understood without quite mastering them, as in Switzerland with its four official languages. The second idea that interests me is Eco’s identification of the Erasmus exchange program with “Swiss language”, that is, the compresence in the same place of persons speaking different languages they have not mastered in the same way as their own mother tongue. Eco argues that these people “adapt”,as if a “minor language” subjects a “major language” to treatment, in which the words minor and major reflect not the supposed importance of different languages but bilingualism itself: the compresence ofa “dominant language” and “minority language”, in the terminology of the linguists and cognitive scientists who study this phenomenon (see Gathercole and Thomas 2009; Môn Thomas et al. 2014). From this arises what I view as the most interesting and least visible aspect of Eco’s argument: that bilingual children and Swiss language are not only connected but in fact two variants of the same phenomenon, just as the letter “z” as pronounced in southern Italy and in my own region of Emilia-Romagna are variants of the same phoneme. What is this phenomenon? What is the “phoneme” of which Swiss language and bilingualism are each a variant? These are the questions that I explore in this chapter. The answer, perhaps, lies in the Erasmus program itself and its “sexual function”, that which drives us to have more bilingual children.
2021
Images of Europe The Union between Federation and Separation
47
58
European Identity and the Sexual Function of Erasmus Program. Nomadism, Bilingualism and “Swiss Language” / Paolucci, Claudio. - ELETTRONICO. - 4:(2021), pp. 47-58. [10.1007/978-3-030-69240-7]
Paolucci, Claudio
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/841510
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