Southern Illinois University School of Law–Legal Globalization & Comparative Law 2014

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Language, Culture, and the European Court of Justice

The visit to the European Court of Justice left me with one of the strongest impression of our study tour for its exposure with the European people, most notably their language skills. Our host immediately impressed us all with his fluency in five languages (English, German, Spanish,French and Italian). When I mentioned how impressive his language skills were, he responded that he was among the least language-talented person in the EUCJ; on average the typical person at the EUCJ would master fluently between seven to ten languages. Moreover, during our visit to Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands, I learned that it is quite common for the average European to speak three languages.

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Language is more than a communication vessel.  Language is the reflection of the culture of the people who speak the language.  The more languages you know, the more cultures you are familiar with; and the more cultures you are familiar with, the wordier you become.  

Europe indeed is agreat example of the strength that lies within globalization. The Europeans seemed not to be afraid of new people immigrating and integrating into Europe, indeed holding such diversity to be one of their strengths. When walking in the streets of European’s cities one immediately notices how diverse the people are. Some of that diversity is internal migration within the European Union, and some is the results of immigration from a non-European countries. Whatever the reason is, it seems to build a pluralist community. From the limited exposure I had with the Europeans during our visit, I felt that the Europeans are more open to new ideas and different ways, as a direct result of this emphasis on multiculturalism and language skills. Europe learned to elevate the potential that lays with new ideas, and therefore, leverage how Globalization “shrinks” the borders between nations and strengthens the global feeling of belonging over the narrower local identity.

Europe is a growing world player that learned ofthehuge potential that lies within team efforts,and this characteristic contrasts sharplywith the Americanfocus on individuality.  In America we built an outstanding frameworks, both legal and non-legal, that were exemplaryfor thewholeworld. When that happened, America, just like Europe today, valued theteam effort. 1776revolution was not possibletodaywhen individualism and personal success alone trump other collective virtues.  I believe that America is facing today an important cross-point that will determine our future, and maybe even our very existence.  And when that time comes, I truly hope we will learn to value the necessary balance between individualism and personal success on the one hand, and the strength of community on the other.  In this manger, we may have a lot to learn from Europe.

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~RS

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