Language Selection Policies in International Standardization: Perception of the IEC Member Countries

Language Selection Policies in International Standardization: Perception of the IEC Member Countries

Hans Teichmann (Erasmus University, The Netherlands) and Henk J. de Vries (Erasmus University, The Netherlands)
DOI: 10.4018/jitsr.2009070102
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Abstract

International standards setting organizations have different language selection policies. In this study, the ethnolinguistic background of international standardization is assessed. The language selection policies of regional and of global organizations have, besides their financial aspects, also an important cultural/ political dimension. Language selection concerns both the working language(s) and the language(s) for communicating. The perception of the (then) 65 National Committees (NCs) of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) has been investigated by means of a questionnaire. The main findings are: a moderate preference for the use of both English and French for the technical work (standards development and publication), and a strong preference for the use of English only for communication. In the perception of the IEC member countries, an organization with this language policy can still be regarded as truly international. Finally, our conclusions regarding language selection policies are presented.

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