Well. I have two different full-length papers in mind, a couple of short “journalistic” pieces, and somehow I imagine the four of these will come together at some point in the future. In the meantime, this is my best attempt at encapsulating what the discursive data from my 100 hours (!) of interview data with interpreters at Parliament will enable me to say:
The European Union has wagered the future of democracy on linguistic diversity. Codified in the Rules of Parliament regarding the rights of Members of Parliament to rely upon simultaneous interpretation (Rule 138), economic pressures, monolinguist assumptions, and service reductions now threaten Parliament’s capacity to instantiate the dream of a multilingual community. Can a pan-European identity be constructed in alternity to the essentialized/izing monolingualism of the United States? A critical discourse analysis of spoken language interpreters’ reports of working for the European Parliament exposes linguistic inequalities and minimizations of voice that undermine the precise distinction posed as the measure of a better kind of democracy &emdash; the freedom to speak one’s mother tongue. A deconstructionist lens supports the argument that spoken language interpretation is the only institutional site where plurivocality is genuinely practiced and hence is the most vital and precious asset of any democratic EU political imaginary.