When Language Policies Fail: The Problem of Implementation Harold F. Schiffman University of Pennsylvania Stockholm, September 2006 Implementation: the ‘Achilles Heel’ of Language Policy Failure of a language policy to have the outcomes that language planners wish, can often be attributed to poor implementation of the policy. Why should this be so? Why not blame other factors? Maybe it depends on who decides on language policy Language policy—often set (decreed, determined, ordained) by amateurs Novices at language planning: Hand down a few decrees Make grandiloquent statements, promulgations, decrees Sit back and expect things to just happen. The devil is in the details… Deciding on concrete steps Allocation of financial resources Devising timetables for completion, evaluation, enforcement, and crosschecking Taking the 'long view' of the process (may not outlast the impatience of politicians seeking quick fixes for a problem) The French Revolution: the Decret Barère January 27, 1794: Barère, on the floor of the Convention, denounces languages (other than French) as enemies of the Republic: “Federalism and superstition speak Breton; emigration and hate for the republic speak German; counterrevolution speaks Italian, and fanaticism speaks Basque. Let us destroy these instruments of damage and error!” The decree passes, taking on the name of Barère, its most outspoken proponent. But what does this decree actually DO? The real name: The act of l’An II, 8 pluviose Ordained the teaching of French in all areas where French was not in use Followed by the law of An II, 2 thermidor: The Convention nationale imposes the use of French in the formulation of all public acts. And then what? What happened next? Bilinguals are to be recruited to be trained as teachers An école normale for this purpose is set up in Paris, and tries to find students. But most bilinguals are already busy doing other things, so The école normale fails, and is disbanded. In other words… The much vaunted laws and decrees were not implemented. Personnel were not found and trained No mention of funding … Nobody followed through… But the myth that the law/decree actually had an effect was born. The rhetoric of Barère is remembered as if it were the text of the law! Another example: Sri Lanka Sinhala-only law of 1956 disenfranchised Tamil; after many protests, and a protracted civil war, 13th and 16th amendments to the Constitution of 1978 made Sinhala and Tamil official, and English the ‘link’ language So what’s wrong? The main problems are the dearth of qualified staff and lack of institutional machinery A large number of vacancies in the post of Tamil typists and translators in several government institutions had not been filled Government had decided that Secretaries of every Ministry, Heads of Departments, Chief Secretaries of Provincial Councils, Heads of Government Corporations and Statutory Bodies would be designated as Chief Official Languages Implementation Officers (COLIO) responsible for the due implementation of the Official Languages Policy, and Senior Assistant Secretaries (Administration) of every Ministry and Deputies (Administration) in every Department, Local Body, Provincial Council, Government Corporation and Statutory Body would also be designated as official languages implementation officers in their central and divisional offices Add more bureaucracy? What about training the Tamil typists and interpreters? What about funding for this training? What about a timetable for implementation? What about penalties for failure to implement, and rewards for implementing the policy? http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2005/10/02/new25.html French Canada: confusing status planning with corpus planning Change in status of French, to give it status in higher domains than before Top-down decision from Gov’t of Canada Not something speakers of French demanded Province of Québec (+ other provinces) were supposed to implement this In Québec: confusion of status and corpus planning Question then arose about what kind of French should be given the status? What was ‘good French’? Was Canadian French good French? Metropolitan French was ‘better’ (especially in the eyes of the rest of English Canada) In English Canada Other provinces are supposed to implement, but they have no incentive to do so Federal Government doesn’t have the jurisdiction to act in the provinces So the other provinces have in general failed to act (Mackey 1983:198) Perhaps only the rise (and prestige) of (totally unplanned) ‘French immersion’ has counteracted this failure Implementation failure in Singapore The Tamil case: what are the issues? Singapore’s languages: 77% Chinese 14% Malay 7% of Indian origin Of this, 60% speak Tamil, i.e. 4% of the population ‘Egalitarian’ policy, but is it really? Can egalitarianism exist at this level? Tamil: additional problems Singapore in general: ‘exonormic’ policy All languages taught use external norms Thus in Tamil: Focus on ‘pure’ Tamil (rather than communicative skills) Use of ‘Indian Tamil’ purist norms rather than spoken Singapore variety Children see little economic value for this variety Additional issues ‘Mother tongues’ are used for ‘moral education’ to prevent spread of amoral western values Science, technology, other subjects are taught in English Students become compartmentalized bilinguals English has more economic value, so Tamils’ (and others too) allegiance shifts to English Students feel they don’t ‘own’ Tamil—it is the preserve of purists who are never satisfied Singapore English (Singlish) All Singaporeans acquire Singlish (local variety of English) before they acquire ‘standard’ English, which is based on BANA norms BANA: British-Australian-North American Singaporeans view Singlish as a marker of Singapore identity So the Gov’t of Singapore now wants to annihilate, ban, extirpate Singlish! ‘Speak Proper English’ Campaign Gov’t of Singapore now attempting to get Singaporeans to abandon Singlish and ‘speak proper English’ The policy on Tamil makes Singapore Tamils want to shift to English, but the Gov’t of Singapore now trying to ban Singlish Does the right hand know what the left hand is doing here? Failure of Tamil policy Policy on Tamil lacks clear goals shared by all Policy has no timetable or schedules Policy lacks evaluation and enforcement metrics: No checking to see if goals are being met No evaluation metrics other than exit testing No carrots, only sticks Carrot and Stick? No carrot: students see no economic value to language, feel they don’t own it Stick: students must pass Cambridge Olevel exams in ‘mother tongue to get into National University of Singapore Any failures or shortcomings result in a ‘blame game’ Blame Game Teachers blame the students for ‘lack of love of the language’ Students blame MOE and CDB, see teachers as people who can’t do anything else MOE and CDB blame students and parents (for not speaking ‘good’ Tamil at home) Everybody blames someone else Nobody sees their own failures, or attempts to fix the problem Internal Criticism Internal criticism is not tolerated in Singapore, so internal critics have to pussyfoot around and couch criticism in coded terms Foreigners can critique things, but are mostly ignored Academics such as at National Institute of Education are aware of problem but are ignored Ministry of Education and Curriculum Development Board live in a world untouched by reality Some changes may be in the offing Top-down planning may now give way to consideration of factors ‘from below’ Crisis in shift to English (by all language groups) now seen as a problem (especially by Chinese) Language policy is not maintaining the languages More money now being allocated for empirical research: $30 million Does anyone anywhere have a sensible implementation policy? The European Union faces many problems Constantly enlarging, adding new languages Policy requires translation from every language to every other language, e.g. Maltese to Estonian, Slovenian to Irish Is this a workable policy? Can it be implemented? European Parliament supports multilingualism but 'pragmatic solutions' needed over rising interpretation costs See report from Eurolang: 2006 Brussels, Thursday, 07 September "The House also considers that multilingualism is an expression of the EU's cultural diversity, which must be preserved, and that, therefore, while the increasing number of official languages calls for pragmatic solutions in the preparatory work within the institutions, multilingualism must be guaranteed to ensure the legitimacy and diversity of the European Union." Total cost of all the linguistic services of the EU institutions, translation and interpretation combined, represents only 1 % of the total EU budget. Is there some ambiguity here? Goes on to say that In 2003, the EP spent €4m on interpretation services made available but not used due to late requests or cancellations. MEPs also ask that last-minute cancellations and lastminute requests be discouraged. In other words, use the services of translators judiciously, and save money Some Resources… EUROPA - Translation DG - Enlargement - Nine new languages EUROPA - Translation and drafting aids Home Page Official and Minority languages… What about the cost? Enlargement plan: EUgiles\actionplan2005.htm Become an interpreter: EUROPA - Translation and drafting aids Home Page Plans for expansion, training, recruitment Scholarships for potential trainees Action plan for other years, too. EUgiles\enlargement2004.htm Can this plan succeed? Even with the best of implementation schemes, we must ask: Is a plan that makes 20+ languages ‘equal’ likely to succeed? Is the monetary cost of this plan worth it? (Will the funds still be there down the road?) Is the original egalitarianism set up for the early ‘common market’ six countries now being extended ad absurdem? What do other multilingual nations do? EU States Chart predicting costs for translation with 20 languages: Another example: South Africa, with 11 languages Is this workable and realistic? Or is this ‘compensatory’ –trying to make up for past wrongs? Some of these languages are spoken by less than 4% of the population South Africa’s Languages: where spoken, and by number of speakers IsiZulu IsiXhosa Afrikaans Sepedi English Setswana Sesotho Xitsonga SiSwati Tshivenda IsiNdebele Other 23.8% 17.6% 13.3% 9.4% 8.2% 8.2% 7.9% 4.4% 2.7% 2.3% 1.6% 0.5 % What are some other (more realistic) possibilities? India: Three-language formula: many ‘official’ languages, but one ‘national’ language (Hindi) and one other link language (English). All citizens supposed to learn all three. Soviet Union: Russian as link language, other languages had regional rights Austro-Hungarian Empire: German and Xish The principle of TERRITORIALITY, but with a minimum number of administrative ‘working’ languages. India’s linguistic states: EU: why not use the model of India or Switzerland? Q: Why not have 2 or 3 working link languages? A: France doesn’t want it. If 3 languages: (English, French, German). Most would choose English or German If 2 languages (English and French), Most would choose English (and already have). If given a choice of 2 or 3 languages, Not enough would choose French… How I view language policy: Consists of overt elements (‘official, explicit, top-down, written, de jure’…) and Covert elements (‘unofficial, grass-roots, implicit, unwritten, de facto’) Covert policy may be: Subversive (Catalan in Franco Spain…) Complicit: meant as ‘window dressing’ or ‘face-saving’ devices (English in Nagaland) Unintended consequences? Covert policy may be something unintended— the seeds of the destruction or failure of the policy are in the policy, but the policy-makers don’t know it. Example: failure of 19th-century German language schools in America which were covertly assimilationist but were unaware of the consequences of the policy. Stundenplan for 19th century ‘German’ schools in the US: 50% English, 50% German Covert policy: Most of the overt policy is visible at the top There may be more to the covert policy than meets the eye The whole policy is immersed in the ‘linguistic culture’ of the polity Covert policy may also be: Cynically subversive: the authorities want it to fail and have planned for it to fail—by setting unrealistic goals. Nefarious and hypocritical: they deny that they want it to fail (Shohamy: ‘hidden agendas’) They have chosen it on condition that it never be implemented or that it be guaranteed to fail Examples: some ‘bilingual’ programs in the US which are intended to result in ‘replacive’ bilingualism, rather than ‘additive’ So French policy with regard to EU language policy is… On the surface egalitarian, with all languages on an equal footing, regardless of the cost Covertly designed to keep English at bay, no matter what the cost Deeply, cynically hypocritical, since minority languages in France, though recognized by the EU Charter, are in fact not recognized since France has not ratified the Charter! Q: Are there any effective language policies? Do any policies result in the outcomes explicitly planned for them? Does any polity structure its policy to cover all the points that are required? Do any avoid unintended consequences? Explicit and realistic goals Adequate Budget Timetable and schedules Periodic evaluation and Monitoring Rewards for achieving goals Penalties for failure A: I’m still looking… Luxembourg does a pretty good job Lëtzebuergesch for early grades German then phased in for elementary school French phased in, to be used for secondary education Everybody’s literate in German, some know French well Domains are specified… Lëtzebuergesch has specific domains: home, school, humor, satire, funerary German: (covert, but) journalism, parliament, law, business… French: higher formal domains Example of Triglossia in the domain of Law: ”Ein Ausländer, der einer Verhandlung vor einem luxemburgischen Polizeigericht beiwohnt, wird aus dem Staunen nicht herauskommen, vor allem dann nicht, wenn er irgendwo gelesen hat, dass die Amtssprache in Luxemburg das Französische sei. Er wird nämlich feststellen, dass die Verhandlungen ausschliesslich auf Lëtzebuergesch geführt werden. Der Vertreter der Staatsanwaltschaft und der Verteidiger aber sprechen beim Requisitorium und Plädoyer französisch. Wüsste er, dass das schriftliche Urteil in deutscher Sprache verfasst wird, wäre er vollends aus dem Konzept gebracht.” `A foreigner who observes the proceedings of a Luxembourg police court will be profoundly shocked, especially if he has read somewhere that the official language in Luxembourg is French. He will note that the proceedings are conducted exclusively in Lëtzebuergesch . For the requisitorium and the plea, however, the Counsels for the prosecution and for the defense speak French. To then learn that the written sentencing is done in German would leave him completely confused.' (Hoffmann 1979:ix.) Geography: Administrative units and position with regard to its neighbors: Lëtzebuergesch for primary literacy: Humor: In Letzebuergesch, but notice French in the signage on the wall behind the doctor! ‘He shouldn’t drink any more; he has to drive.’ I’m sorry; I’ve tried everything you … can afford The downside: Foreign guestworkers have no linguistic rights, have to learn three other languages Can’t become citizens if they can’t pass a test in Letzebuergesch (Europe in general doesn’t do much for guest worker languages, or non-territorial languages) It’s a very small country… Conclusion: Language policies may fail if they are too ambitious, or try to be too egalitarian ‘Ambitious’: trying to work with too many languages, or convert L-varieties to Hvarieties by legislative fiat Mostly they fail because they fail to implement the policy, or because of hidden agendas. Bibliography An extensive bibliography on the subject of implementation can be viewed at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/plc/clpp/bibliogs/implementbiblio.html> Abstract The question of language policy implementation is one that is typically thought of as problematical in some way--sometimes referred to as the Achilles Heel of language policy--since the failure of a language policy to have the outcomes that language planners wish, can often be attributed to poor implementation of the policy. Frequently, language policy makers are novices at language planning, and tend to view it as something that can be, or should be, easily implemented--a few broad strokes to give the basic outlines of the policy, and one is done. I however tend to see implementation as the most problematical area of language planning, since it involves many details--deciding on concrete steps, the allocation of financial resources, devising timetables for completion, evaluation, enforcement, and cross-checking--and it may also involve a 'long view' of the process that may not outlast the impatience of politicians seeking quick fixes for a problem. This paper will examine language policy failure in a number of different polities, and try to point out why these policies have problems, and how the role of implementation is typically ignored or downplayed.