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One Language, One Nation? Language Policies in Multilingual Settings.

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Presentation on theme: "One Language, One Nation? Language Policies in Multilingual Settings."— Presentation transcript:

1 One Language, One Nation? Language Policies in Multilingual Settings

2 2 One Language, One Nation? Language planning and policy is the management of multilingualism Language Planning: [Cooper (1989:45)] – ‘deliberate efforts to influence the behaviour of others with respect to the acquisition, structure and functional allocations of their language codes.’ Language policy of a speech community (Spolsky 2004:5) –language practices (which languages people select to use, and where –Language ideologies –(!) beliefs about language and language use –Efforts to influence practices and beliefs through intervention, planning or management India – languages Papua New Guinea – languages UK – English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish: languages in London schools alone

3 3 So … language planning and policy does not occur in monolingual states? No … for several reasons: 1There is ‘no such thing as no language policy’ (Schiffman, 1996) 2There aren’t any really properly monolingual societies Iceland – Mainly Icelandic … but some Danish. Sign Languages? Also English … societies exist in globalising networks with other societies And even without Danish or English, who would decide on ‘standard’ Icelandic Possibly North Korea … highly isolated, but some contact with e.g. China, international community. And ‘standard’ Korean – different from non- standard dialects

4 4 relatively monolingualabundantly monolingual India >1000 PNG >429 Taiwan >18 Iceland ~3 North Korea 1 + dialects

5 5 So … if monolingual nation states rarely – if ever – exist, why do we believe in the myth of one language, one nation? Before the nation state = feudalism Peasantry lived along a dialect continuum Portuguese and Italians wouldn’t understand each other (but then, there was no Portugal or Italy) But walking from Portugal to Italy, each village would probably understand each other Nation-State: No longer feudal. 16C – 18C Wisdom of Kings and ‘divine rule’ challenged Political power/legitimacy rested with the people

6 6 The State Nation / Nation State State-Nations: Conquering territory: claiming people within it a nation, seeking homogenisation (e.g. linguistic) through centralisation, education (though also possible that people are pre-disposed to act as groups) Nation-State: homogenous population with common language and culture, seeking to acquire territory. Both privilege linguistic homogeneity – monolingualism as national identity

7 7 One nation, one language? National identity: unity of the nation Common culture, institutions, language For communication and economy To distinguish from other nations And to keep the outsider or the invader visible (non- nationals seen as threat = bilinguals seen as having ‘questionable loyalty’) Were early state-nations or nation-states monolingual though? No … see modern borders between France and Germany – borders drawn for e.g. religious unity or ethnic purity, not language

8 8 Language Ideologies Monolingualism: a language ideology Not single ideology just to ‘hide’ the truth (Althusser) But ONE ideology produced by a set of complex discourses (unity of the nation, defence from the outsider, for economics and communication) Other ideologies (common history, national flag) also produced by those discourses Discourses shift depending on power relations The production of knowledge (e.g. a common history, a standard common language) = an operation of power = power/knowledge as inter-linked. Ideologies do not necessarily have to be false, only play a part in the creation or maintenance of (multiple) relations of domination E.g. It can be ‘proved’ that Black Englishes are phonologically different from standard Englishes: it does not mean it is true that they are inherently inferior – though they may be perceived that way.

9 9 So … in our enlightened times, have we got rid of monolingualism as the national ‘default’?

10 10 Early approaches to understanding multilingualism: diglossia Ferguson’s model of diglossia: H / L High language: standard variety Low language: regional dialects Useful, in that it saw multilingualism as possibly being two varieties of the same language (or related languages) used in different contexts E.g. Function (church, home, news, cartoon) Prestige (e.g. denying a language exists and claim to be speaking something else) Saw diglossia as ‘stable’ (that is, that long held beliefs about language persist) Saw linguistic features (phonology, standardisation acquisition etc.) as being fundamentally related to socio-cultural situations. But: failed to account for why prestige and stability was achieved and maintained Failed to propose any notion of conflict between languages: they all sat happily in their functions (home etc.) without bothering each other

11 11 Language Planning and Policy Language Planning: [Cooper (1989:45)] – ‘deliberate efforts to influence the behaviour of others with respect to the acquisition, structure and functional allocations of their language codes.’ Language policy of a speech community (Spolsky 2004:5) –language practices (which languages people select to use, and where –Language ideologies –(!) beliefs about language and language use –Efforts to influence practices and beliefs through intervention, planning or management

12 12 Status / Corpus / Acquisition Planning Status: the relative prestige a language has due to its place in society (i.e. which languages to be used, and where) Corpus: the ‘body’ of these languages: which alphabets to use, correct usage, modern terminologies, etc. Acquisition: how to get the population to learn (acquire) these languages But … these are not just linguistic concerns: politically, socially and economically (ideologically) motivated …

13 13 ‘Language Planning and Policy Goals: An Integrative Framework’ (Hornberger, 2006:29)

14 14 relatively monolingualabundantly monolingual India >1000 PNG >429 Taiwan >18 Iceland ~3 North Korea 1 + dialects Where does the UK go on this scale? What languages do we count in a multilingual society? Indigenous languages? Immigrant languages? Foreign Languages? = Various explanation: ideologically motivated about who you think you are, and how you see the society in which you live For sociolinguists: probably all languages in order to understand how, where and why they are used in society, and by whom?

15 15 Language and decolonisation But sociolinguistics not free of ideology. Reaction to decolonisation – countries across Africa (and elsewhere) were suddenly drawn up, with multilingual populations Well meaning language planners tended to opt for a lingua franca in the area Though this reinforced ideologies of monolingualism being the national default And of multilingualism being a ‘problem’

16 16 All languages are potentially equal – but for social reasons, not always so (Hymes 1992: 2 -10; in Hornberger 2006:27) But … that does not necessarily mean that we can give equal resources to every language Though we should strive to identify inequality in opportunity, and attempt to rectify it.

17 17 Critical Language Policy Research Aims to analyse policies in terms of: What areas of language can policy affect? What are the goals of language policy? How can language policies alleviate inequality – or cause it?


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