Language policies and organizational features of international organizations
Language policy, which is directly concerned with organizational operation, functions, and objectives, has become an increasingly important issue in international organizations (IOs). However, research on IOs’ language policies, especially exploration based on large-scale data, is rather limited. Using data from the Yearbook of International Organizations (2020–2021), this study explores how IOs select their languages. It is found that: (1) Federations of IOs and IGOs are more likely to choose languages other than English, whereas universal membership organizations and NGOs are much more likely to use English; (2) IOs headquartered in Western countries adopt more diverse languages than those in Asia, and those headquartered in developed countries are more prone to choose local language(s) than those in developing countries; (3) IOs with a longer history tend more towards multilingualism; (4) IOs dealing with religion, law, society, transportation, and communication are more inclined to be multilingual; and (5) IOs with individual members generally choose fewer languages than those with IO members. These findings reveal that IOs’ language management is shaped not only by internal and external organizational features, but also by the interactions between these features and language values.
Keywords: international organizations, language policies, English, language management, Yearbook of International Organizations
- 2.Literature review on the language management of international organizations
- 3.1Data and sample
- 3.2Data analysis
- 4.Analysis and results
- 4.1Overview of official and working languages declared by the sampled IOs
- 4.2The number of declared languages
- Subject of concern
- 4.3Declaration of languages other than English
- Type A vs. Type B
- Government involvement: IGO vs. NGO
- 4.4Declaration of (de facto) national language(s) of headquarters countries
- Socioeconomic development of headquarters countries: Developing vs. developed countries
- 5.Discussion and conclusions
Published online: 21 March 2022
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