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International Knowledge and Linguistic Delimitation

A simple explanation would say that international science speaks English and Education speaks the NLINE (Native Language Is Not English). International science has been speaking English for a long time. In restricted contexts, French or Spanish or German are also found. It decidedly does not yet have Portuguese as a science central language in use and, even in Portugal, the birthplace of Camoes’s language, the scientists publish also in English. However, as shown in Chap. 1, there is a growing weight of the knowledge published in Latin languages such as Portuguese.

If this does not result as problematic for the researchers in the area of hard sciences (or Fundamental and Applied Sciences), this procedure becomes a heavy hindrance in the great area of Social Sciences and Humanities, especially in emerging countries where English is not yet a part of the curricula of undergraduates and graduates. There is even a dualistic classification: countries whose native language is English and the NLINE countries (countries whose Native Language Is Not English). In addition, the global system world, who does not live in NLINE and does not use English, is illiterate since one will not be able to garner scientific capital if the symbolic and prestigious currency is the publication in Anglophone journals and the correspondent quotation (Ortiz, 2007; Scielo, 2014). If Bourdieu, the French intellectual, who unearthed so many questions in the scientific field, lived now, would he also publish in English? And if we are speaking about differences, would this be an appropriate language for Chinese and Indian people, the world’s biggest populations? Contradictions aside, it is worth remembering an important side of this symbolic currency—the communication between scientists, between researchers and academics—is done through collaborative networks in a communicative and personal process that overcomes the barriers of language.

The linguistic delimitation is not causal—instead, it has quite evident causal links to the historic and geopolitical constitution of the international scientific society. The most prominent players in scientific communication are not exactly the ones whose official language is English—as such, an affirmation could mislead one to point some poor countries as scientific powers in the Global World, in the economic world, in the world of international sciences. The English scientific communication is rather concentrated among the developed nations, a group easily identifiable as the member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In this scenario, Southern, developing countries lack visibility and prestige as

... a symptom of a poorly internationalized knowledge system that relies upon a peculiar definition of what an international journal is. In practice, international journals are the ones selected by specific databases such as SCI’s heir, the Web of Science (WoS), or SCOPUS. For researchers from the South, participating in the grand conversation of science really corresponds to finding ways to be admitted into the scientific conversation presently active in the OECD countries (Vessuri et al., 2013, p. 4).

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