LANGUAGE POLICY AND NATIONAL IDENTITY Jan Blommaert Different Types of Identities • Achieved or Inhabited – people themselves articulate or claim • Ascribed or Attributed – given to someone by someone else Nation and State • Two different concepts • Nation-state: One specific combination of the two • Object of investigation: – Countries where an effective state system manages to conduct nationalist policies through language policy • National language policies can be imposed by super-state forces or, • These policies can be an effect of national governments seeking new international alliances with certain partners – Multilingualism in the EU – Emphasis on English in the peripheries based on an imnage of globalization – The promotion of English in Mozambique and Congo: desire of national governmets to align themselves with the US, or the World Bank Language, Policy and Identity • The importance of language in the process of nation-building. • Main argument: • The notion of language ideologies grew out of Sapirian and Whorfian linguistic anthropology, and it stands for socially and culturally embedded metalinguistic conceptualizations of language and its forms of usage. Main Argument • Language users have conceptions of language and language use – Quality, value, status, norms, functions, ownership, etc. • They guide the communicative behavior of language users. • They use language on the basis of conceptions they have and so reproduce these conceptions. Main Argument • These are ideological constructs and sites of power and authority. • Language use is ideologically stratified • The best language/language variety is distinguished from less adequate varieties in every instance of use. – Written vs. Spoken – Standard vs. Dialect – Specific expert registers vs. General lay registers • With the advent of print capitalism: a highly elitist view of language • Language needs to be purified • Sociolinguistic regime • Ownership, memebership and authority – This is our language – We are Americans and speak English – This doesn’t belong here – He doesn’t speak the language well • Linguistic Communities – Groups claiming attachment to the standard Language : We speak English. • Speech Communities – Groups characterized by the actual use of specific speech forms (professional jargons, dialects, even standard varieties of languages.) Monoglot Ideology • A society is in effect monolingual • Denial of practices toward factual multilingualism and linguistic diversity Effects of Monoglot Identity • It ınforms practical language regimes. • It produces and regulates identities. – National identity is an ascriptive identity attributed by the state. This may lead to an inhabited identity. • It has a tremendous impact on scholarship. Tanzania • The postcolonial Tanzanian state declared Swahili as the national language of the country. • It became an official language together with the colonial language, English. • Swahili was introduced as the medium of instruction in primary education together with the inherited medium of instruction. • It also became the language of political life and the mass media. Tanzania • Swahili boosted with the massive campaign of nation-building. • The language: the language of Africansocialist • Citizen: a socialist and an African, and a monolingual, Swahili speaking individual • National identity was defined in politicalideological and linguistic terms, not in ethnic or other cultural terms Tanzania • The ideal situation: monoglot • The target: Homogeneism with the disappearance of English-the language of imperialism, capitalism and oppression and the local languages even nonstandard varieties of Swahili Tanzania • To achieve full languageness for Swahili English was used in higher education to produce a class of elite intellectuals. • Swahili was spread to all corners of the country • However, post-primary education remained (and still is) in English. Tanzania • Neither English nor local languages and impure varietites of Swahili disappeared. • The one-party system collapsed in the late 1980s. • What does this mean? • There was a widening gap between the intended ascriptive identity constructed by language planners-the monolingual, Swahili speaking, socialist Tanzanian- and the inhabited identities of the people. Tanzania • People used Swahili for: interaction across ethnolinguistic boundaries, administrative contacts and primary education. • Politics was only one domain. • People continued to use local languages for other domains. • So to the extent that only one identity was envisaged, the campaign was a failure. In conclusion: • Singular projections of language onto national identity do not work any more. • Language policy should be seen as a niched (specialized) activity, and the same goes for its desired outcome, national identity.