Tout comme la culture ou le territoire, la langue est souvent perçue comme une caractéristique essentielle pour rassembler les individus au sein d’un État. Une véritable révolution démolinguistique se déroule actuellement au Royaume-Uni, en effet selon l’office national des statistiques, 546 000 personnes parlent le polonais en Angleterre et en Irlande du Nord faisant ainsi du polonais la langue la plus parlée après l’anglais.
In 2004, 8 Eastern European countries including Poland joined the EU leading to an estimated one million migrants entering the UK in the following eight years resulting in Polish beers and foods becoming commonplace in pubs and shops as many work in the service and construction industries. Thanks to massive migration, Polish is increasingly spoken: it has even been the second most widely spoken language in the UK since 2001.
This is surprising because Polish wasn’t one of the most spoken languages in the UK (not even in the top 10) in 2001. This could be related to high unemployment rates in Poland and to the fact that Poland joined the European Union in May 2004, making migration easier for workers. The situation was the same for other Eastern European countries like Latvia or Lithuania. Thus, the number of Polish citizens increased from 75,000 to 532,000 between 2003 and 2010, far more than expected. The peak of migration was reached in 2007 with 96,000 immigrants from Poland.
Poles are often linked to agriculture and light industry in small towns while the number of Polish food shops keep increasing in bigger cities like London. Also, it should be said that many Poles fought in Britain during World War II, even cracking crucial secret codes, which has created bonds between the two nations. Besides, Ed Miliband, who could become Prime Minister in 2015, is half Polish, which illustrates how well integrated Poles have become and how multicultural a state the UK actually is.
Besides Polish, many other languages are spoken in the UK. Punjabi and Urdu are still among the most spoken languages in the UK since it has long been easier for Indians and Pakistanis to emigrate to the UK thanks to the Commonwealth agreement. French is also commonly spoken, with roughly 400,000 French people in Britain. London is even France’s sixth biggest city with about 120,000 French dwellers.
Some Britons fear an invasion and feel as if they were losing their very identity even though English remains the majority language by far. This may partly account for the success of far-right parties like UKIP. The British National Party even wants to forbid Polish immigration.
It should be mentioned that other languages have always had an influence on the English language and vice versa: new words are added like ‘pyjama’ (from Hindi) and new forms of languages appear like “Ponglish“.
Anthony BIZI & Nicolas CAULT