From Brexit to Frentrance? The Brexit Discourse as an Arena for Language Battles

Publication: Chapter in book/Conference proceedingChapter in edited volume


Brexit has raised concerns about its political, administrative and economic consequences. It has also prompted questions about which language(s) should be used in the discussions about Brexit and in an imaginary post-Brexit European Union (EU). Through struggles over the use of language in EU institutions after Brexit and during Brexit talks, various politicians are using debates about Brexit to renegotiate European and national identities and hierarchies, both linguistic and extra-linguistic. In these “language battles”, English is rejected and French paradoxically praised as a symbol of a multilingual Europe, discursively deconstructing the EU and Europe itself by excluding the United Kingdom and the English language and then discursively reconstructing the EU as language-democratic and multilingual – preferably in a francophone tradition, as suggested by several discourse actors. As the French language was thus so conspicuously present in the Brexit discussions, its language-related dimension deserves scrutiny by discourse analysis. This paper consequently examines media coverage on Brexit from 2016 to 2020 against the backdrop of the metalinguistic comments and language choices of EU politicians.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn the Discursive Deconstruction and Reconstruction of Europe
EditorsSabine Heinemann, Uta Helfrich , Judith Visser
Place of PublicationWiesbaden
Pages101 - 128
ISBN (Electronic)9783662648933
ISBN (Print)9783662648926
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

SeriesLinguistik in Empirie und Theorie/Empirical and Theoretical Linguistics

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 602004 General linguistics
  • 602042 Romance studies
  • 602048 Sociolinguistics

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