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LINGUIST List 20.2777

Sat Aug 15 2009

Diss: Socioling: Price: 'A Political Sociology of Language in...'

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        1.    Gareth Price, A Political Sociology of Language in Taiwan: Local, national and global contexts

Message 1: A Political Sociology of Language in Taiwan: Local, national and global contexts
Date: 13-Aug-2009
From: Gareth Price <garethowenpricegmail.com>
Subject: A Political Sociology of Language in Taiwan: Local, national and global contexts
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Institution: University of Essex
Program: PhD Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Gareth O. Price

Dissertation Title: A Political Sociology of Language in Taiwan: Local, national and global contexts

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
David Britain
Yasemin Soysal

Dissertation Abstract:

Changing political and social structures affect language ideologies and
practices in unexpected ways; in turn, language practices and ideologies
themselves influence sociopolitical processes, and produce unintended
effects. The study of the interface between language and social and
political structures has been the concern of theorists of nationalism at
least since Renan.

Political or social interventions in language practices and beliefs are
broadly conceived as 'language policies', usually implemented at the
national level (Spolsky, 2004). However, in the post-national era (Soysal
1994), these issues cannot solely be explained from the nation-state
perspective, as they are influenced by both local and global contexts.
Taiwan is used as a case study for a number of reasons. As a multilingual
society with a long history of colonisation, re-colonisation, and
decolonisation, the battles fought over the politics of language mirror
other contexts.

However, Taiwan's political and sociolinguistic situation has had a unique
historical trajectory, and it now finds itself articulating a national
identity while being at the same time diplomatically isolated from the
international community. Policies to promote indigenous and autochthonous
languages are in tension with policies to promote English to 'connect
Taiwan to the world.'

What socio-political structures and historical processes have influenced
Taiwan's linguistic situation? How are linguistic nationalisms produced in
and by local contexts? How are they articulated in the post-national and
denationalised context of globalisation? If it is possible to dislodge the
nation-state as the dominant unit of analysis, why is it more difficult to
decentre the concept of a 'national language'?

This thesis adopts an interdisciplinary perspective to address these
questions. Drawing on (and critiquing) paradigms from sociolinguistics,
sociology, and political theory, it develops a notion of a political
sociology of language (cf. Mueller, 1973; Mazrui, 1976; de Swaan, 2001)
from a comparative historical perspective. It finds that monolingual
policies do not necessarily produce monolingual polities; the absence of a
policy is not evidence of a lack of political intervention in language; and
that pluralism is no guarantee of multilingualism.

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