LINGUIST List 25.958|
Wed Feb 26 2014
Review: Discourse Analysis; Sociolinguistics: Paffey (2012)
Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons
From: Lorena Cordova <lorenacordova64gmail.com>
Subject: Language Ideologies and the Globalization of 'Standard' Spanish
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-4425.html
AUTHOR: Darren Paffey
TITLE: Language Ideologies and the Globalization of 'Standard' Spanish
SERIES TITLE: Advances in Sociolinguistics
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Publishing (formerly The Continuum International Publishing Group)
REVIEWER: Lorena Cordova, Center for Research and Graduate Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS)
Darren Paffey’s “Language Ideologies and the Globalization of ‘Standard’
Spanish” aims to analyze and interpret language ideologies (LI) -- ideological
representations about the language -- about standard Spanish as used in two
newspapers (“El País” and “ABC”). The author understands Spanish as a
sociocultural and political resource by which, in media discourse, ideological
debates appear whose origin is framed by the influence of the “Real Academia
de la Lengua Española” (RAE). The RAE is a linguistic authority creating views
about how Spanish should be used in publications, public speech and “new
media”. Paffey also analyzes language in a political context no longer limited
to political and national boundaries, due to the development of Spanish
standardization processes (so-called pan-Hispanic linguistic norms). Finally,
he aims to establish other interpretations of the standardization process in
newspapers, i.e., the press as a vehicle for ideological transmission.
Through five chapters, Darren Paffey does not evaluate whether standardization
is right or wrong, but analyzes the standardization as an ideology that
emerges in an institution promoting the idea of a proper and prestigious
standard variety. From this, he seeks to understand “how the discourse of
language authorities in the Spanish press is permeated with ideological
framings, presuppositions and expressions of the worldview of discourses
producers” (p. 4). In this sense, according to Paffey, it is necessary to
analyze political and economic ideologies in Spanish language and thus observe
the changes and events about standardization discourses.
In chapter one, “Language Ideologies, Critical Discourse Analysis and Media
Discourse”, Paffey draws on theoretical and methodological aspects to provide
an approach to the concept of ideology “to understand the ideological
relationships between purely ‘linguistic’ factors of language debates and the
socio-political and historical factors which provide the context for them” (p.
15). This chapter is the book’s core, presenting the critical apparatus with
which the author approaches the analysis of LI.
In the first part of this chapter, influenced by the American School of
Linguistic Anthropology and following the work of Kathryn Woolard, Paffey
emphasizes: “‘ideologies of language are not about language alone’ (Woolard,
1998:3) and so it is important to understand the factors that language
ideologies are about” (p. 17). In this sense, there are different types of
relations between language ideology and social, political and historical
factors. Paffey is also interested in knowing the discursive practices in
which ideologies are constructed, reconstructed, reproduced and disseminated.
That is, he proposes to study the locus of production of ideology reproduction
from three levels: linguistic practices, metalinguistic discourse and implicit
Subsequently he acknowledges variation and change in modern languages. From
this, the agency of speakers works as an agent of change for language and its
decisions shape linguistic ideologies. Social actors who manage institutions
are ideological and cultural brokers (cf. Bloommaert, 1999) and are “making
possible new ways of speaking and understanding” (Nichols, 2009:6). LI are
generated/naturalized and begin to form part of the common sense of the public
or social group that receives them.
Paffey treats Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as well. He sees CDA as a
perspective that goes beyond text connotation and denotation and helps to
reveal power relations, ideological positions, and additional tools to make
critical analyses of texts. CDA makes it possible to identify the conceptions
and implications of ideological content that builds a particular
representation. “The focus of CDA is to reveal how language use is structured
in order to achieve a position of dominance for particular discourses, and
subjugation of others. … In response to the social problems and inequalities
manifested by -- and in -- both powerful and ‘powerless’ discourse agents in
elite and popular texts/discourses, the principled basis of CDA is evidenced
in its emancipatory objectives” (p. 23).
Similarly, the author proposes three approaches to the analysis of the corpus:
analyzing content (explicit meaning: topics, description, contents), analyzing
hidden agendas of the text (implicit meaning, local meaning or argumentation
strategies) and “how unwritten presuppositions influence and determine the
indexing and construction of ideological power relations as that takes place
within individual texts” (p. 30).
Within the theoretical-methodological proposal, the author analyzes
intersections between language ideologies and CDA. First, taking into account
hidden agendas, the study of language ideologies and CDA decipher the implicit
language ideologies in discourses (cf. Wodak, 2001). Second, ideologies are
shaped by attitudes that come from the historical role, utility, value and
quality of the language. Third, CDA analyzes how language ideologies are
naturalized through phrases or terms which are repeated in discourse. Fourth,
research in LI and CDA targets sites where the ideological discourse is
situated (linguistic practices, the choice of language variety, textual
factors, and so on). Finally, CDA and studies of Hegemony aims to understand
where the language is being used in the LI.
Paffey refers to two differences between LI and CDA. The first is the role of
language in social processes. The CDA picks up the language again as a medium
of production/reproduction/contestation of social division or inequalities,
while in the LI are interested in language image building processes through
identity and aesthetic categorizations, etc. Second, from the role of social
theory, the CDA is a key to the emancipatory target of critical work, while LI
studies, not only the link with social theory to intervene in the work of
narrative dominance is discussed, but it is also questioned.
Both disciplines are complementary despite their differences. However, to the
author their divergence is in the epistemological origin of each. The CDA
emerges from a modernist or Marxist position “uncovering the truth” (p. 36)
and, meanwhile, the LI has a post-structuralist approach “that does not
recognize one single truth to be uncovered” (p. 37). According to Paffey, the
CDA and the LI are transdisciplinary and in both perspectives the researcher’s
ideology frames or determines the analysis or research. “While my own
ideologies may not necessarily rise to discursive consciousness, it is
important to engage in some self-reflexivity regarding the position from which
I write, and the reasons I embarked upon the writing of this book” (p. 37).
In the last part of the chapter, the author refers to media discourse as a
position of power. Media are an ideological performative way of transmission
in which journalists make decisions that will directly consumed and decoded
(cf. Hall, 2001) by readers. In this process it is playing the role of a model
reader, so that media discourse is one of the more powerful forms (print or
online) for disseminating linguistic and rhetorical strategies.
The second chapter, “Language Authorities and Standardization of Spanish”,
aims to analyze the role of an ideological agent who acts as linguistic
authority in the process of Standardization of Spanish Language (SSL), the
language academy, particularly the RAE. The author gives an approach to the
Standard Language Ideology (SLI). This LI promotes the legal and planning of a
language. “SLI discursively constructs a belief that there is (and ought to
be) a common linguistic ideal to which language users within a determined
community (whether local, regional, national or supranational) should aspire”
(p. 50). The SLI comes from graphicentrism with a linguistic ideal of
universal access to a range that facilitates communication. Also, with this
ideal, the goal is to obtain uniformity, authority, and respect to a
prestigious language variety. For Paffey, the linguistic authority of a
prestigious linguistic norm is institutionalized and disseminated by language
academies, normative publications (dictionaries, grammars, orthographies),
government, educational institutions, and media (television, film, radio,
internet, style guides, popular books, etc.), as well as represented by an
elite class. The normalization by authorities targets the written language,
and they often consider the spoken language a problem for normalization.
In the third chapter, “Spanish Linguistic Unity and The Global Community of
Speakers”, the author critically reviews how linguistic authorities (RAE)
define, discuss, and strengthen particular visions of Spanish. The linguistic
authority has other agents and allied institutions which, metaphorically, are
the guardians of the language. These guardians pursue a unified Spanish and a
common variety with which to build “language community” (p.84), whose
homogeneity allows the construction of a nationalist discourse where the
“Spanish is designated the common heritage (patrimonio común)” (p. 85). From
this perspective, the characteristics of the “non-standard Spanish” are
represented by the local or regional varieties, the spoken language, and the
working class and uneducated people speaking.
In this chapter, Paffey also refers to the ideology around Spanish as a factor
of unity. This ideology should be understood from two perspectives, on the one
hand the structural unity into the Spanish itself and on the other hand as an
identity factor that unifies people through a communication system. “Spanish
is designated a language of a friendship, understanding, harmony, concord,
sharing and unity; a language which breaks down barriers, draws together
common purposes and creates a flow of shared values and aspirations, and which
-- due to its democratic credentials -- thereby carriers moral authority” (p.
From there, the author problematizes around the ideal of “Spanish as a Free”,
since in the Latin American context “to speak Spanish as, in fact, many were,
the Spanish imperial conquests actually wiped out entire populations, cultures
and languages” (p.87). The linguistic authorities reformulate colonial
arguments, and while recognizing the imperial meaning of language, they also
reinterpret these arguments. Authorities “reformulate the grammatical
arguments of “Antonio de Nebrija” (1441-1522). Spanish] language was a tool of
empire, but directly negate it and draws on topoi or history, religion and
bilingualism to present a competing, positive interpretation of Spain’s
historical colonial project” (pp. 87-88). In this sense, myths about
bilingualism begin to emerge (cf. Aracil, 1986) and the linguistic conflict
disappears but social reality does not (cf. Ninyoles, 1995).
Finally, in this chapter, Darren Paffey refers to ideological discourses that
emerge from a liberal economy where there are an “inevitable market forces”
and “a metaphorical representation as a valuable industry of Spain” (p. 103).
The increase in Spanish speakers as well as the neoliberal economic context is
enabling greater linguistic exchange. The “discourse about linguistic
competence” (cf. Martin-Jones, 2003) turns into a discourse of “the legitimate
competence on the legitimate linguistic market” (cf. Bourdieu, 1977:654).
Chapter four, “The Role and Authority of the Real Academia Española and Other
Guardians of Spanish”, shows how language guardians (journalists and other
commentators) perform activities that are announced and publicized in the
press and legitimizing the linguistic authority. The RAE is the “natural
guardian of the Spanish language” (p. 116). Similarly, there are other
guardians of the language, such as King Juan Carlos I of Borbon, the architect
of unity among all speakers of Spanish who has some responsibility of the
ideal pan-Hispanic world. Also, the king is the honorary chair of the
Instituto Cervantes. This institute promotes “español común, represented by a
particular ‘pure’ variety, free from ‘distorting noise’” (p. 127).
In the fifth chapter, “The Spanish Language in the World”, the author refers
to the discussions emerged from the expansion of Spanish. Paffey analyzes the
economic advantages of speaking Spanish and how the RAE is proposing a new
standardization intended to generate a large-scale agenda. The proposal is to
build new linguistic authorities, which will be guided by the RAE. The
construction of these new hegemonic forms are a response to the tendency of
Spanish expansion has to diversify its use, but also a way to start thinking
in Spanish as a global language that can be an alternative to global English.
Finally, in the “Conclusions”, the author reaffirms that “standardization of
language in many societies has taken as its model the written form of spoken
language educated and powerful social elites, and this is the case in both
Spain and Latin American Spanish-speaking countries” (p. 173). The ideal,
focusing on linguistic authorities in Spain, is to use the unified written
Spanish, which ensures continuity and cohesion of the language. Also, there
are contradictions in institutional ideologies, “el ‘español común’ has no
identifiable national ‘owners’ (only influential professional groups from
science, literature and the media)” (p. 176). So when making reference to the
LI back to standardization, the author concludes the book by stating that
“ideologies of language standardization in the Spanish-speaking world (and
beyond) are very clearly embedded in -- and influential upon -- issues of
political, social, national economic and other forms of power” (p. 181).
This book makes a valuable contribution to the study of the LI surrounding
Spanish. One of the book’s great contributions is to address similarities,
differences and complementarities between the CDA and LI. Also, the analysis
of the attitudes of the linguistic authorities surrounding social phenomena
embedded in the expansion of a language, the blurring of political boundaries
of the Nation state, and linguistic requirements of neoliberal global economy
is vital. But I would like to point out three aspects that, in my opinion,
could enrich the contribution.
In the study of LI, it is important to identify from which perspective certain
concepts are being taken because their interpretation depends on this.
However, Paffey did not deal with fundamental aspects to the study of the LI.
As a matter of fact, one cannot find an epistemological approach to key
concepts such as LI or ideology.
First, Paffey takes concepts and proposals from other authors, ascribed to the
American School of Linguistic Anthropology, but he does not explain why he
draws on this school of thought. For example, he says that he does not want to
evaluate ideologies of linguistic standardization as correct or incorrect, so
his perspective is far from Marxist ideologies -- which consider ideologies as
a false consciousness. However, the author does not explain whether his
conception of ‘ideology’ is related to other perspectives or not. For example,
whether ‘ideology’ considers all beliefs and knowledge (true or false) as
socially conditioned, as stated in the sociology of knowledge (cf. Mannheim,
1936), or as other perspectives in which ‘ideology’ is related to the notion
of identity-thinking (cf. Adorno, 2008), or even Lacanian perspectives such as
those in which the ideological mystification is analyzed in discourses (cf.
Second, Paffey does not specify whether his approach to LI will be from a
perspective concerned with language structure and pragmatic features (cf.
Silverstein, 1979, Makihara, 2004, Kroskity, 2010) or he is more interested in
LI in a way more concerned with socio-political and identity processes which
determine a specific use and, at the same time, this creates specific beliefs
systems (cf. Heath, 1980; Irvine, 1989; Irvine and Gal, 2009). Although
throughout the book there is a clear trend toward the second perspective, the
author is not explicit about choosing this trend. Therefore, when he takes up
issues such as LI and its relationship with nationalism, hegemony, power, and
so forth, he does it in a superficial or obvious way, and does not generate a
fine analysis from the CDA, surrounding what is not said, i.e. the hidden
discourse, he does not analyze concealment or tricky characteristics presented
in a discourse and ideology itself (cf. Žižek, 2012).
Finally, Paffey recognizes variation as a normal feature of languages.
Throughout, he tries to note how linguistic authorities conceive of standard
Spanish against non-standard Spanish. However, the author does not compare how
the linguistic practices is used in the main newspapers. That is, Paffey
focuses on analyzing the discourse of those agents representing to linguistic
authorities, but he does not show how this analysis of standard Spanish is
used by journalists in newspapers. This would lead the reader to a greater and
closer outlook on how the LI of linguistic authorities are being used or not
in the everyday writing. Therefore, one could obtain clearer evidence about
media as a means of ideological transmission.
Notwithstanding the above, Paffey’s book invites further research on how
belief systems are built around language. It also shows how language can be a
tool of political, social and economic power, and, according to different
contexts, the advocacy and dissemination of a linguistic variety above all
others, is and will be a means of social inclusion and/or exclusion.
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ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Lorena Cordova is a PhD student in Anthropology at the Centro de
Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social, Mexico City, and
professor at the School of Fine Arts at Universidad Autónoma 'Benito Juárez'
of Oaxaca (Oaxaca, Mexico). Her research interests include language
ideologies, language endangerment, social semiotics, political ecology, and
multilingualism in borderline contexts,etc. Cordova is co-author of Guía de
revitalización lingüística: para una gestión formada e informada (Guide for Language
Revitalization: for a Formed and an Informed Management) (2012). She is
currently working on her doctoral thesis on how to create strategies and
educational materials from an ecology of language approach in order to promote
revitalization of the Chuj Maya language in Mexico.
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