Language Policy
LG474 notes
Language Rights
Peter L Patrick
Univ of Essex
What is Policy?
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A linear, rational, systematic process? Created by
individuals on the basis of research and vision?
A product of socio-cultural and political contexts?
Expressing the people’s will and prejudices?
A product of institutional histories & contingencies?
Development predictable via costs/benefits/budgets,
or chaotic/contradictory due to rhetoric & clashing of
local/national agendas?
How much effect do individuals targeted by policy
have on making or altering it?
What is language policy?
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Planned interventions pronounced and implemented
by states, supported/enforced by law
Nearly always in multi-lingual/-cultural ecologies
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(Fettes 97)
Policies compare/evaluate language status/function
and differentially impact the varieties they recognize
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“theories/practices for managing linguistic ecosystems”
As well as those that were left out for whatever reasons
Necessarily reflect power relations among groups
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Various political & economic interests – internal & external
Latter include (ex-)colonial powers, international business
concerns, neighbour states, politically aligned groups, etc.
Language Policy &/Or Planning?
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Some argue policy should be the output of planning,
Or necessarily includes it, eg Schiffman, Ricento
But “a great deal of language policy-making... [is]
haphazard or uncoordinated... far removed from the
language planning ideal” (Fettes 1997: 14)
Others argue policy subsumes planning, eg Spolsky
All recognize they are linked and intertwined, so
“LPP” is a common and useful shorthand for this
“Theories/practices for managing linguistic ecosystems”
Accounting framework for LPP
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More generally, as Cooper (1989:98) asks,
“What actors attempt to influence
which behaviors
of which people
for what ends
under which conditions
by what means
through what decision making process
with what effect?”
LPP Types and Approaches
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Hornberger (1994) typology (in Ricento ed.)
Contrasts types of LPP
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Status: allocating functions w/in a speech community
Acquisition: focus on users, language learning/teaching
Corpus: changes for or structure of language
with approaches to LPP
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Policy: macro focus on nation/society, Standard Lgs
Cultivation: micro focus on literacy, ways of speaking
Cross-cut focus society (status/acq) vs language
(corpus), with function (cultivation) vs form (policy)
Theory+Data+Value+Cost/Benefit
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Language theory/analysis– of acquisition, use, shift,
revitalization, loss – has little value per se as a tool to
argue for specific language policies (Ricento 2006:11)
Instead, academics need to demonstrate empirically the
costs/benefits to society of particular policy choices,
Defining the value of their recommendations explicitly,
Backed up by data from a range of disciplines and
perspectives, which support the value of their choice.
While not yet LgPol, this is a necessary component in
attempts to influence public policy choices & outcomes
Examples of official LPs
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Assam Language Act 1960 made Assamese compulsory
in govt, led to ethnic tensions/violence w/Bengali migrants
Tanzania changed language of secondary education from
English to Kiswahili (2001) – however,
Ghana changed from using vernacular languages in first
3 years of primary school to English (2002)
Council of Europe (2001) urged govt. of Macedonia to
allow use of Albanian in schools, courts & administration
Egyptian govt requires fire extinguishers in Cairo taxicabs
to have instructions written in Classical Arabic
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In fact most taxi drivers cannot read them…
Examples of un-official LPs
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Consider non-official policies, too – states may be
dysfunctional, contested, newly-formed, multinational
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Kansas City school suspends child for using Spanish in
class– no policy?– school board rescind suspension (2005)
Arab funding of Somalian schools leads to Arabic replacing
Somali as language of education (2004)
Linguistic landscape studies (street signs, site and place
names) show different bilingual patterns in Israel:
• Hebrew/English in Jewish areas, Arabic/Hebrew in Arab
ones, Arabic/English in East Jerusalem.
• (Official languages are Hebrew and Arabic.)
Elements of language policy 1
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Language practices of community or polity:
patterns of selection from linguistic resources
/repertoire, for particular domains
• Domains: constellations of institutional factors
which affect language selection (Fishman 1965, 1972) –
typically,
• settings, occasions and role relationships;
• Or, locations, topics and participants
Elements of language policy 2
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Language ideologies and attitudes about
language and use
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Ideology: a system of symbolic forms which work to
create and support systems of social power
Language ideologies systematically associate
language choices and speakers with e.g. economic,
political, and moral dimensions
Language planning then is an attempt to
change practices, which must engage with
language ideologies.
Contrasting definitions of LP
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Spolsky (2004): Language policy is comprised of all
three components (practices + ideology + planning)
Shohamy (2006): Language policy falls between
ideology and practice.
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Includes both overt & covert mechanisms which create &
maintain both official policies & de facto ones (=practices)
"Real" policy may be covert & need decoding of such tools
Examples of such mechanisms:
• Overt: school language policy, citizenship or voting test
• Covert: street sign, school language test, monolingual
health info
Contrasting definitions of LP
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Schiffman (1996): Language is main vehicle for the
construction, replication, transmission of culture itself
Language policy is primarily a social construct,
rests primarily on other conceptual elements:
• Belief systems, attitudes, myths
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Whole complex can be treated as linguistic culture
"Language policy is not only the specific, overt, explicit,
de jure embodiment of rules in laws or constitutions,
but a broader entity, rooted in covert, implicit, grassroots, unwritten, de facto practices that go deep into
the culture."
Covert practices vs overt policy
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Latter 2 views stress that covert practices shape the
overt policies, given their effect on everyday practice
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They promote ideologies favored by state/powerful groups,
Marginalize or exclude minorities, or powerless majorities;
But they could be used to raise language awareness, change
attitudes, protect language rights & reform policy.
Ie, LP could be a way to turn language ideology into practice.
Overt LPs can afford to pay lip service to inclusive language,
diversity and democratic processes,
as long as covert mechanisms are functioning to execute
policies with contrary aims.
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Economics of Language (Policy)
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First wave of research: effects of language on income
Early research heavily embedded in national contexts:
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Quebecois analyses of French/English differential in Canada
US focus on earnings gap between Hispanics & Anglophones
Emphasis on native language as an ethnic attribute
affecting earnings – connect w/language discrimination
2nd wave: language (usually 2ndL) as human capital
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Eg what’s rate of return for US Hispanics on acquiring English?
Later: language as criterion for distributing resources;
costs of minority-language maintenance/promotion, etc
Economic nature of Language
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Language differs from most other economic goods:
W.r.t. its function as a communication tool, The more
it’s used, the more value it acquires for its users.
Goes beyond “non-rival consumption”, eg of public
lighting, which are not zero-sum and consumption
can’t be limited to those who have paid for it, to
“Super-public goods” or “hyper-collective goods”
Of course, the assumption is too narrow: Language
is far more than just a communication tool...
Types of “Market failure” in LPP
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Why should state intervene in LPP? Why not just
leave language matters to the free market, which
provides adequate goods/services at minimum cost?
Cases of market failure justify state intervention:
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“Super-public goods” or “hyper-collective goods”
Lack of info for actors to make good decisions
Transaction costs prevent deals of mutual benefit
Absence of markets (eg language futures)
Market imperfections (eg monopolies)
Externalities: A’s behavior affects B’s welfare w/o economic
compensation (ex: pollution from SUV vs homeowners)
All kinds of MF occur but even 1 is enough
(Grin 2006)
Past Focuses of LPP Activity:
1950s-1960s
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Solving “language problems of developing nations”
Focus on widely-accepted orthography and “prestige
(standard) dialect to be imitated by socially ambitious”
New nations of Africa, Asia, S America/Caribbean
‘needed’ grammars, dictionaries, orthographies for
indigenous languages – ie, mostly Corpus Planning
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Language development:
• Graphization, standardization, modernization
Nation-building seen as primary mission (=StatusP)
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Choose national language variety for various functions
• Unifying; separatist; participatory; historicity; authenticity
Past Focuses of LPP Activity:
1950s-1960s
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A positivist approach: neutral, technical, objective
Assumptions:
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Competition & selection are necessary
validity of European standard-language models
right of ‘foreign experts’ to advise/administer them
Right of IMF/World Bank/etc. to require, fund them
Later: negative effects, limits of development models
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All LPP lingu8istic aims serve sociopolitical goals
Modernization emphasized 1-nation, 1-(std)-language
But LP in whose interests?
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Q of how language is used to reproduce social and
economic inequality, & role of experts, loomed larger
Use of post-colonial Euro language in technical/formal
domains, Indigenous/Vernacular for others, led to
Imposed stable diglossia, status loss for I/V, and
privileging of educated elites, like colonial model
How are language policies used as instruments of
Western extension of control over other peoples?
Do they favor majority/elite/client interests over those
of minorities/masses/independence-seekers?
Postmodern views of language I
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Shohamy further argues that the very conception of
language/s by most linguists as socially-bounded,
grammatically-closed systems, is manipulated for
political/ideological agendas that cast languages as
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Fixed, stagnated, pure, unchanging, hegemonic,
standard, oppressive
Through school teaching, mass media and other
ideological agents.
This postmodern critique problematizes idea of
language-as-fixed-code (Hopper, Shohamy, Pennycook)
New emphasis on ideology, agency, ecology in LPP
Postmodern views of language II
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Instead of distinct languages, only shared discourses
Systematicity is an illusion, born of overlapping
community practices & communicative experiences
In this view, Languages can't have fixed functions,
statuses or values attached to them– open to change
Thus linguicide or linguistic imperialism (LHR) are
seen as naïve - ‘English’ carries no cultural baggage
Also because of changing geopolitical/global realities
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Are states really best seen as the primary, powerful
actors, controlling populations in their jurisdiction?
Focus shift from Languages> Discourses, Ideologies
Attack on core linguistic concepts
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In this view, linguists had not described reality but rather
created new languages (think status not corpus)
Failed to question/reproduced, positivist/modernist idea:
language as discrete/finite/bounded, structure-driven
Ignored speakers’ experience of code choice process as
flexible, dynamic, agentive, speaker-driven, political
Concepts such as diglossia seen as “an ideological
naturalization of sociolinguistic arrangements”
Native speaker, mother tongue, competence questioned
or abandoned as inadequate & invested by Critical LPP
(Can language analysis/description be done from here?)
Critical views of language shift
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Are Western ideas of monolingualism and cultural
homogeneity – with diglossia as “2nd-best” fallback –
…And a “rational-choice” model of decision-making,
with capitalism and market values underlying it,…
Assumed as prerequisites for modernization, social/
economic progress, democracy and national unity?
Histories of standardization reveal it as product of
modern state-formation processes and ideologies;
Why is this pathway presumed good for developing,
multilingual countries w/indigenous diverse peoples?
Linguistic Imperialism & LHR
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Societal multilingualism should be set as the norm,
Accepted as prerequisite for functioning democracy.
Groups can better participate on level ground with
institutional recognition given their language/culture.
Is Lx assimilation of minorities a legitimate LPP goal?
LHR is one way to champion such goals both at level
of states and international protections & instruments.
LHR also aimed against linguistic imperialism – the
continued dominance/exploitation by large powers,
using their languages as weapons and contributing
heavily to language shift and loss (so it’s argued).
Linguistic hegemony at home
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“Monolingualism but…” is common among nations –
Hegemony of one national or official language, named
in a constitution or legislation, but with
Tolerance for 1 or more regional/minority languages
achieved by (variously enforceable) legal means
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Eg, US 14th Amendment and Civil Rights Act Title VI
One LPP goal is to codify such tolerance, determine
who it should extend to, & make it accessible to them
NB: such “Lx tolerance” only makes sense where
ethnic/nationalist monolingualism is assumed to rule
Paradigm set by Act of Union, French Revolution, post1812 treaties, then German & Italian nationalism...
Print Capitalism & Nations
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Print capitalism –
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dissemination of the written word in the standardized
form of a national language, as commercial enterprise
…was crucial to the formation of modernity &
building of nation-states.
Print capitalism also was agent for the development
and marketing of language ideologies,
…which place citizens within national contexts by
linguistic means. - “Greeks speak Greek, wherever they are”
Educational systems were organised, in part, to
guarantee the success of this enterprise, and of the
new national identity it supports and is emblematic of
Selling
National Language Ideology
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A principal type of successful language ideology
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1) Creates hierarchies of language,
2) Valuing most highly the written standard form of a
national language, abstracted from elite speech,
3) Makes it subject to (upper middle) class norms
through education, and
4) Sells it to the whole society as the Only True Form
of Language.
5) Other forms are then erased & made NotLanguage.
Functions of a Monoglot Ideology
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“Monoglot ideology” invests in monolingualism as a
fact, and denies evidence of linguistic diversity.
How? by coupling belief in pure standard language,
With membership of ethnolinguistically-defined group
+ Right to reside in a region occupied by them.
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“We’re English. We speak English here!”
Herder: Volk + language + territory = nation-state
This ideology produces identities (=of citizens), and
Works effectively to prohibit public linguistic diversity.
Case Study: Tanzania, /
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Multilingual nation, c36 million population today
De facto national languages are (Ki)Swahili, English
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200,000 Arabic speakers in Zanzibar; 430k Maasai …
Bantu speakers (3.2m Sukuma, 1.3m Gogo, 1.2m Haya,
1.2m Nyamwezi, 1m Ha, 0.75m Hehe, 0.7m Luguru, 670k
Bena, 500k Asu, …over 100 other languages)
German colony, then British, independence in 1961
Shares ethnolinguistic groups with Kenya, Uganda,
Rwanda, Burundi, DR Congo, Zambia, Mozambique
Nyerere govt committed to pan-African socialism,
ujamaa
Case Study: Tanzania, II
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English used after 1961 for while in govt, parliament,
but no longer – still the language of high courts
1984 official linguistic policy: Swahili = L of political
and social sphere, primary and adult education
English used in 2ary/university, but Sw now mixed in
Some Swahili L1 traditionally, most speak local L1
(mostly Bantu)– learn Sw at 1ary, Eng at 2ary school
‘Double-overlapping’ diglossia: away at 2ary,
students use Swahili for L functions, English for H
Swahili has ousted English in many public functions
Case Study: Tanzania, III
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Sw defined as Lg of ujamaa socialist values; ideal
mwananchi “citizen” = socialist, Swahili-monolingual
National identity thus not ethnic but political/linguistic
Success would be a monolingual-Sw nation, homogeneous in language and socialist values – hence,
Other languages/ideologies must disappear; not only
English (capitalist/imperialist/oppressor language),
but indigenous ones (pre-colonial backward cultures)
and urban non-standard Swahili & code-switching
Case Study: Tanzania, IV
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Modern Herderian: 1 language/culture/territory/state
LP to achieve this by purification & standardization,
but use colonial methods: Western expertise, formal
education aiming at normative literacy (incl. English)
English as reference point: Swahili to be comparable
in elaboration, range of functions, correctness
Spread of Std Swahili achieved: it’s the public code,
used for one idealized national identity (mwananchi)
But not the monoglot ideal: other varieties maintained,
involved in other identities – no totalizing hegemonyyou can plan specific domains, but as niched activity
Discussion questions
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Who should be involved in creating LPP?
Is LP really a form of public policy like policy for
transportation, health, environment? Why?
What is market failure? how is it relevant to LPP?
Can you find exs. of how covert policy (=practice)
differs from overt LPP in your own experience?
How true is it that British people are aggressively
monolingual? Are there any justifications for this?
What problems does it create or reinforce?
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Language Policy - University of Essex