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Language Policy. LG474 notes Language Rights Peter L Patrick Univ of Essex. What is Policy?. 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?

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language policy

Language Policy

LG474 notes

Language Rights

Peter L Patrick

Univ of Essex

what is policy
What is Policy?
  • 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
What is language policy?
  • Planned interventions pronounced and implemented by states, supported/enforced by law
  • Nearly always in multi-lingual/-cultural ecologies
    • “theories/practices for managing linguistic ecosystems” (Fettes 97)
  • Policies compare/evaluate language status/function and differentially impact the varieties they recognize
    • As well as those that were left out for whatever reasons
  • Necessarily reflect power relations among groups
    • Various political & economic interests – internal & external
    • Latter include (ex-)colonial powers, international business concerns, neighbour states, politically aligned groups, etc.
language policy or planning
Language Policy &/Or Planning?
  • 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
Accounting framework for LPP
  • 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
LPP Types and Approaches
  • Hornberger (1994) typology (in Ricento ed.)
  • Contrasts types of LPP
    • 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
    • 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
  • 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
Examples of official LPs
  • 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
    • In fact most taxi drivers cannot read them…
examples of un official lps
Examples of un-official LPs
  • Consider non-official policies, too – states may be dysfunctional, contested, newly-formed, multinational
    • 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
Elements of language policy 1
  • 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
Elements of language policy 2
  • Language ideologies and attitudes about language and use
    • 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
  • Languageplanning then is an attempt to
  • change practices, which must engage with
  • language ideologies.
contrasting definitions of lp
Contrasting definitions of LP
  • Spolsky (2004): Language policy is comprised of all three components (practices + ideology + planning)
  • Shohamy (2006): Language policy falls between ideology and practice.
    • 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 lp14
Contrasting definitions of LP
  • 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
  • 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, grass-roots, unwritten, de facto practices that go deep into the culture."
covert practices vs overt policy
Covert practices vs overt policy
  • Latter 2 views stress that covert practices shape the overt policies, given their effect on everyday practice
  • 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.
economics of language policy
Economics of Language (Policy)
  • First wave of research: effects of language on income
  • Early research heavily embedded in national contexts:
    • 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
    • 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
Economic nature of Language
  • 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
Types of “Market failure” in LPP
  • 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:
    • “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
Past Focuses of LPP Activity: 1950s-1960s
  • 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
    • Language development:
      • Graphization, standardization, modernization
  • Nation-building seen as primary mission (=StatusP)
    • Choose national language variety for various functions
      • Unifying; separatist; participatory; historicity; authenticity
past focuses of lpp activity 1950s 1960s20
Past Focuses of LPP Activity: 1950s-1960s
  • A positivist approach: neutral, technical, objective
  • Assumptions:
    • 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
    • All LPP lingu8istic aims serve sociopolitical goals
    • Modernization emphasized 1-nation, 1-(std)-language
but lp in whose interests
But LP in whose interests?
  • 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
Postmodern views of language I
  • 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
    • 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
Postmodern views of language II
  • Instead of distinct languages, only shared discourses
  • Systematicityis 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
    • 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
Attack on core linguistic concepts
  • 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 diglossiaseen as “an ideological naturalization of sociolinguistic arrangements”
  • Native speaker, mother tongue, competencequestioned or abandoned as inadequate & invested by Critical LPP
  • (Can language analysis/description be done from here?)
critical views of language shift
Critical views of language shift
  • 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
Linguistic Imperialism & LHR
  • 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 (soit’s argued).
linguistic hegemony at home
Linguistic hegemony at home
  • “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
    • 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, post-1812 treaties, then German & Italian nationalism...
print capitalism nations
Print Capitalism & Nations
  • Print capitalism –
    • 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
Selling National Language Ideology
  • A principal type of successful language ideology
    • 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 Not-Language.
functions of a monoglot ideology
Functions of a Monoglot Ideology
  • “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.
    • “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
Case Study: Tanzania, /
  • Multilingual nation, c36 million population today
  • De facto national languages are (Ki)Swahili, English
    • 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
Case Study: Tanzania, II
  • 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
Case Study: Tanzania, III
  • 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, homo-geneous 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
Case Study: Tanzania, IV
  • 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 hegemony- you can plan specific domains, but as niched activity
discussion questions
Discussion questions
  • 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?