Language Policies and Language
Ideologies:
Comparisons between the Irish and
Galician Contexts
Dr Bernadette O’Rourke, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh
[email protected]
February 2008
Irish and Galician Contexts
Linguistic Differences



Irish - Celtic
English - Germanic

7th Celtic Nation?
Galician/Castilian Romance
Linguistic Proximity and
Language Shift

Dutch to English (Clyne 1988)

‘dialectalization’ (Kloss 1967)


…the politically-motivated process which occurs when
enough structural similarity exists between a dominant
and a subordinate language to classify the latter variety
as a substandard dialect
A language is a dialect with an army (Weinreich
1968)

Power relations
Demographic Differences
Irish
Galician

1851 - 5% monolingual

1877 - 88% monolingual


2001 - 91%

1922 - 18%
2006 - 43 %

Active use

Active use

5 - 10 %

68 %
Euromosaic Definition of
Minority Language

The concept of minority by reference to language
groups does not refer to empirical measures, but
rather, to issues of power. That is, they are language
groups, conceived of social groups, marked by a
specific language or culture, that exist within the
wider societies and states, but which lack the
political, institutional and ideological structures
which can guarantee the relevance of these
languages for the everyday life of members of such
groups (Nelde et al 1996: 1).
‘ Who ’ speaks the language

‘ sociolinguistically naive ’ (Dorian 1981)

Profile of Galician speakers



Older age group
Rural
Lower socio-economic groups
Language ‘ tip ’

In terms of possible routes towards language
death, it would seem that a language which
has been demographically highly stable for
several centuries may experience a sudden
‘tip’, after which the demographic tide flows
strongly in favor of some other language
(Dorian 1981: 51)
‘demographic tide’ in favour of
Castilian Spanish


Symptoms of language decline (Joshua
Fishman 1991, 2001)

Decline amongst younger generation

Intergenerational transmission of language
43.9% drop in past 50 years (MSG 1994)
Socio-political Differences


Irish
Official language of
State
Privileged ‘state ostensibly
dedicated to its
protection ’ (Fishman
1991)

Galician
Co-official Autonomous
Community of Galicia

Spanish official
language of Spanish
State

Galician ‘right’,
Castilian ‘obligation’
Language as symbol of political struggle

Irish context – independence ‘removed urgency’ (Paulston 1994)

Galician context - ‘militant’ form of ethnicity (Paulston 1994)

Galician Nationalist Party (Bloque Nacionalista Galego -BNG)

Galician language ---- nationalist ideologies (Iglesias 1998;
O’Rourke 2005; 2006)

Increased language use
Complexity of Factors affecting
Language Maintenance and Shift
Similarities

Socio-historical trajectories



Non-autochthonous centres of political, economic and
cultural power
England (later Great Britain)
Castile (later Spanish State)


Language stigmatised
Similar socio-demographic profiles
Low-prestige Languages

Languages are seldom admired to death but
are frequently despised to death (Dorian
1998)

Language policy and planning focus



Raising low-prestige status
Changing negative language attitudes and
ideologies
Removing deep-rooted stigmas
Language Policies in Ireland and Galicia

Irish - Post-independence (1922-present)

Galician - Post-autonomy (1981-present)
Language Policies

Language policy has to do with decisions
(rules, regulations, guidelines) about the
status, use, domains and territories of
language(s) and the rights of the speakers of
the languages in question (Schiffman 2000)
What does language policy look like?

Overt



Constitutions
Laws
White Papers

Covert



Language practices
Language beliefs
Laws, regulations,
customary practices
Who develops language policy?

Government (top-down)

Institutions (schools, businesses, hospitals
etc.)

Individuals (bottom-up)
Language Policies and Language
Ideologies

Assumptions and beliefs about what kind of
linguistic order is beneficial for a community or
nation influence the foundation of language-planning
goals (Rajend et al 2000)

Language policy reflects the ideological views or
orientation of society, government, institution,
individual…(Schiffman 2000)

[language policy reflects]…visions of language as a
resource, problem, or a rights or ideologies of
linguistic pluralism… (Woolard 1998)
Irish and Galician

Overt Language Policies

Top-down and Bottom-up Language Policies

Phases in Language Policy

Language Ideologies
Overt Irish Language Policy

Article 8 Irish Constitution
…the Irish language as the national language
is the first official language … the English
language is recognised as a second official
language
Overt Galician Language Policy
Article 3 of Spanish Constitution
 1. Castilian is the first official language of the State.
All Spaniards have the duty to know it and the right
to use it.
 2.
The other Spanish languages are also official in
their respective Autonomous Communities in
accordance with their Statutes.
 3. The wealth of Spain’s different linguistic varieties
is its cultural patrimony which will be the object of
special respect and protection.
Language Policy Time Span

Irish - 1922 -present (8 decades)

Galician - 1981 - present (3 decades)
Phases in Language Policy for Irish
(Ó Riagáin 1997)

1922 – 1950s
Revival

1950s – 1970s
Stagnation

1970s –present
Laissez-faire
1922 – 1950s

‘gaelicisation’

Irish key symbol construction and legitimisation of
a collective national identity.



Revival
education system, media and public sector.
Implicit goal - Irish-speaking country
Ideology - strong intervention on part of the
state


top-down control
Rewards for competence in Irish
1950s – 1970s

1965 White Paper on the Restoration of the
Irish Language


‘bilingualism’ national aim
1973 - end to compulsory passing of Irish




Stagnation
Teaching Irish as subject
Weakening of state policies
Move away from authoritarian implementation of policies
Ideology


De-emphasises traditional symbols of identity.
Modern element - language as a ‘right ’
1970s –present

Bottom-up policies





Laissez-faire
Gaelscoileanna movement
RnaG
TnaG – TG4
...reluctance on the part of the government to
clearly define policy and planning initiatives
for the Irish language according (Ó Flatharta
2004)
‘ Survival ’ policies (Ó Riagáin 1997)
Recent Language Policy Initiatives

The Official Languages Act 2003

First piece of legislation to provide a statutory
framework for delivery of public services in Irish

Objective - ensure better availability and higher
standards of public services through Irish
A Policy Based on Individual ‘Rights’

…the more language policy singles out Irish speakers
as the target for language policies on the grounds of
their rights as a minority group the less plausible it
becomes to sustain existing policies to revive Irish
(Tovey 1988: 67)

… the provision of state services to Irish speakers
may find that such speakers do no exist in enough
numbers nor are they sufficiently concentrated to meet
the operational thresholds required to make the
service viable (Ó Riagáin 1997)
2006 Government Statement on the Irish
Language.

The aim of the 20th century government policies
was to reinstate Irish as the main language
spoken by the people, but the Government now
plan to focus firmly on the practical development
of a bilingual society where as many people as
possible use both Irish and English with equal
ease (Taoiseach Bertie Ahern 2006)
21 year strategy

13 objectives including...





Full implementation of the Languages Act
The provision of services to parents who wish to raise
their children through Irish
The continued development of high quality Irish
language programmes on TV and radio
Continued teaching of Irish as a subject at school
Further development of all-Irish secondary schools
Language Policy in Galicia

1981- 2004
Laissez Faire

2004- present
Revival
1981- 2004 Laissez Faire

Centre-right government





Ideology – Harmonious bilingualism


Lukewarm policies
Maintaining status quo
Non-interventionist
Equal co-existence of Castilian and Galician
Ignores socio-historical context - Galician
subordinate
Bottom-up nationalist support
2004- present

2005 - change in socio-political context


Revival
Galician Socialists and Galician Nationalist Party (BNG)
Ideology – Language conflict




Positive discrimination
2007 – Act (Decreto 124/2007) regulating use of Galician in
education
Minimum 50% subjects in Galician – maths, history,
geography, science
‘Catalan model’ – Libertad Lingüística (Linguistic Freedom)
Trends in Top-down Language Policy in
Ireland and Galicia

Irish
1922-1950s – momentum

1950-1970 – stagnation

1970-present – laissez faire

…language policy in
relation to Irish is at a
critical stage (Ó
Riagáin 2001)

Galician
1980-2004 – laissez faire

2005-present - momentum
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Language Policies and Language Ideologies: …