The Use of English in Flemish Media: Communicating a Subcultural Identity
When the ever-spreading use of English is discussed, almost immediately notions such as globalization, linguistic imperialism and ELF (English as a Lingua Franca) come to mind. Often the case seems quite simple: people of different linguistic backgrounds increasingly have to communicate with each other, and when they do so, English often is the common denominator.
In a situation where most speakers share the same home language other than English, though, use of English is not expected. Yet in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium, English is increasingly used in local media programming. Flemish radio- and television presenters, addressing a Flemish audience on a Flemish network, often use English words and sentences, or even host an entire program in English, rather than Dutch.
This paper explores the possible reasons for this state of affairs. Our findings indicate that subcultural preferences play a very significant role, in the amount of English as well as in the variety of English being used. The use of a particular variety of English often is an important tool in the creation, experience and communication of the subcultural identity that a particular program or network wants to portray. It appears that the use of English in Flemish media is linked with processes of glocalization rather than globalization.
An Kuppens (Belgium)
Department of Communication Studies Faculty of Social and Political Sciences
University of Antwerp
An Kuppens graduated in June 2002 as a Master in Communication Studies (University of Antwerp). After doing some shorter research assignments regarding child language acquisition, she now works as an assistant in Communication Studies. Her current research interests are situated on the intersection between media, subcultures and language.
(30 min. Conference Paper, English)