The last forty years of the eighteenth century saw a surge of geographical discovery in the Pacific. Expeditions from several European countries mapped a myriad of islands in the vast ocean, while naturalists on the discovery vessels collected an overwhelming bounty of flora and fauna. Their lot was not an easy one, for both on board ship and ashore danger alternated with boredom and discomfort; quarrels with the ships’ officers, who had very different priorities, were frequent. Nor did these difficulties end upon the naturalists’ returning home, where their specimens were often neglected and recognition for years of work proved elusive.
Kant’s universalism had a profound influence upon the formation of the modern state and on subsequent debates about the relationship between the state, language and culture. While proclaiming its own individuality each European state also subscribed to a universalism that was inscribed in democracy. The EU is now confronted by the dilemma of seeking to subscribe to universal principles while promoting linguistic diversity. Simultaneously the hierarchy of European languages is changing through the effect of globalisation and modernisation. Language group relations vary across the states of Europe, and the march of a reflexive modernity obliges a consideration of how different European states contribute to the European project. As the new Europe unfolds we are obliged to consider the extent to which language planning can effectively sit alongside these processes of modernisation and globalisation in reaching the stated goal of a European Union that is multilingual and multicultural while subscribing to effective management.