The paper is a published version of a keynote address delivered at the 16th Slovenian Slavistic Congress in Lendava, Slovenia, 6-8 October 2005. It discusses the process of building up a knowledge base for American university students about the notion of "Eastern Europe," contrasting an American viewpoint, for which national language policy is largely irrelevant and a European viewpoint, for which national language policy is a centrally important issue. The author considers the effect of the Enlightenment on language death and language maintenance.
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