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When the language bonus becomes an onus : a Belgian case study

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Abstract
Belgian public servants are entitled to a language bonus, ranging from €20 to €110 per month, when they need to use two official languages, mainly Dutch and French, in their jobs. Some of the employees (window clerks) of a state-owned, public service company (company X) receive this bonus, but only those who work in Brussels, because it is an official bilingual area (French/Dutch). To get an insight into the language practices and beliefs of their Flemish colleagues, we analysed the answers of a survey study of 129 participants working in the monolingual area (Dutch). The language bonus is a source of dissatisfaction for clerks working in monolingual regions, such as Antwerp, because they also need to be multilingual to perform their jobs, but do not receive the bonus. The results indicate that there is a discrepancy between the language policy of Belgium (the language laws) on the one hand and the policy of company X and the language beliefs and practices of the clerks on the other. We conclude our article with a discussion about the language bonus and make an assessment about expenditure on it in Belgium, which we estimate at €51 million per year. We argue that the bonus has to be viewed as a language management strategy and thus has to be evaluated regularly to become fully effective.
Keywords
Language management, language practices, language policy, language bonus, Belgium

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MLA
Van Herck, Rebecca, and Dieter Vermandere. “When the Language Bonus Becomes an Onus : a Belgian Case Study.” Ed. Michael Kelly. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE POLICY 8.2 (2016): 191–207. Print.
APA
Van Herck, R., & Vermandere, D. (2016). When the language bonus becomes an onus : a Belgian case study. (M. Kelly, Ed.)EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE POLICY, 8(2), 191–207.
Chicago author-date
Van Herck, Rebecca, and Dieter Vermandere. 2016. “When the Language Bonus Becomes an Onus : a Belgian Case Study.” Ed. Michael Kelly. European Journal of Language Policy 8 (2): 191–207.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Van Herck, Rebecca, and Dieter Vermandere. 2016. “When the Language Bonus Becomes an Onus : a Belgian Case Study.” Ed. Michael Kelly. European Journal of Language Policy 8 (2): 191–207.
Vancouver
1.
Van Herck R, Vermandere D. When the language bonus becomes an onus : a Belgian case study. Kelly M, editor. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE POLICY. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press; 2016;8(2):191–207.
IEEE
[1]
R. Van Herck and D. Vermandere, “When the language bonus becomes an onus : a Belgian case study,” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE POLICY, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 191–207, 2016.
@article{8526019,
  abstract     = {{Belgian public servants are entitled to a language bonus, ranging from €20 to €110 per month, when they need to use two official languages, mainly Dutch and French, in their jobs. Some of the employees (window clerks) of a state-owned, public service company (company X) receive this bonus, but only those who work in Brussels, because it is an official
bilingual area (French/Dutch). To get an insight into the language practices and beliefs of their Flemish colleagues, we analysed the answers of a survey study of 129 participants working in the monolingual area (Dutch). The language bonus is a source of dissatisfaction for clerks working in monolingual regions, such as Antwerp, because they also need to be multilingual to perform their jobs, but do not receive the bonus. The results indicate that there is a discrepancy between the language policy of Belgium (the language laws) on the one hand and the policy of company X and the language beliefs and practices of the clerks on the other. We conclude our article with a discussion about the language bonus and make an assessment about expenditure on it in Belgium, which we estimate at €51 million per year. We argue that the bonus has to be viewed as a language management strategy and thus has to be evaluated regularly to become fully effective.}},
  author       = {{Van Herck, Rebecca and Vermandere, Dieter}},
  editor       = {{Kelly, Michael}},
  issn         = {{1757-6822}},
  journal      = {{EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF LANGUAGE POLICY}},
  keywords     = {{Language management,language practices,language policy,language bonus,Belgium}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{2}},
  pages        = {{191--207}},
  publisher    = {{Liverpool University Press}},
  title        = {{When the language bonus becomes an onus : a Belgian case study}},
  url          = {{http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/ejlp.2016.12}},
  volume       = {{8}},
  year         = {{2016}},
}

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