Language choice within the Brexit negotiations: a Critical Discourse Analysis of Michel Barnier's code-switching between French and English

Andreia Catarina Patricio Teixeira

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Brexit has brought face-to-face not only two sides of Europe but also two languages, evoking a centuries-old dispute between French and English for the place of lingua franca of international politics and business. Despite the EU’s multilingualism policy, English has replaced French as its de facto lingua franca. At the same time, efforts to increase the relevancy of the French language in the EU and worldwide have been noted, and the exit of the UK from the EU sparked the debate about a change in the linguistic paradigm in Europe.
Although not an infrequent practice within the EU’s multilingual environment, the presence of code-switching in the discourse of the EU’s Chief negotiator for Brexit, Michel Barnier, is relevant for the future of this linguistic dispute, particularly in terms of its ideology, power and identity meaning. Michel Barnier’s alternation between French and English reveals that, by using both English and his mother tongue, French, in the same communicative setting, he can communicate more clearly and effectively while displaying his multiple identities, both ethnic and professional. As a result, the message is strengthened towards both sides of the negotiation, while the speaker and the institution he represents are portrayed as adaptable, solidary and ‘fair’. Code-switching thus proves to be a powerful rhetorical tool in the exercise of authority and power, not only for the benefit of the speaker but also of the two languages, as their use and coexistence is perpetuated in the public sphere.

UddannelserKommunikation, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Master
Udgivelsesdato2 jan. 2020
Antal sider77
VejledereIda Klitgård